The Watcher

The dark days at the end of the year and the cold days of January are always ripe with thrillers, horrors and chillers. There's something almost comforting about curling up under a cosy blanket with some excellent post-Christmas snacks and a big old cup of tea and reading something dark and twisty. I always seem to read lots of these genres when the weather is cold, misty and dreich - nothing like a bit of suspense in the winter's chill.

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong (HQ, releases today) is the latest thriller I've read in this season, and it's a great, taut little psychological thriller. The story begins with a familiar set up - the nosey neighbour! From the publisher: Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. A keen birdwatcher, she can’t help spying on her neighbours. One day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her neighbour Jean is found dead. Lily, intrigued by the social divide in her local area as it becomes increasingly gentrified, knows that she has to act. But her interference is not going unnoticed, and as she starts to get close to the truth, her own life comes under threat.

I enjoyed this book and truly didn't see a few of the twists and turns in the narrative. The first-person style of the writing added an immediacy to proceedings and meant you were always left wondering how reliable our narrator might be. This device lent the novel a sense of unease and claustrophobia, ideal for this Rear Window-esque story. The writing of London also chimed well with me - I used to live in an area much like the one where Lily lives, where different lifestyles, housing set-ups and tax bands live next door to one another, and the overlap and the tension this can create at times is written in an involving and observant way.

Inasmuch as I enjoyed this read, there are elements in the later chapters that I feel may divide readers - but surely that's half the delight of a good mystery? I found the denouement really satisfying, and this was a fantastic pageturner. This was a great little winter thriller to read and I think there's lots within the book to tempt readers of the genre - I'll certainly be passing my copy on to my mother next (the woman adores the darker tomes) and I'm excited to hear her take on it too.

Ross writes with confidence and poise - I didn't realise this was a debut until after the fact! Having enjoyed this book, I'll be looking out for his sophomore effort.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.

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I'm Claire, a thirty-something teacher, writer and blogger living in London.

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