Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Watcher Ross Armstrong

If I’m grumpy today, Ross Armstrong, it’s all your fault. If you hadn’t written The Watcher I might be properly refreshed after a good night’s sleep. But because I simply could not put the book down until I had finished it I am now tired, bleary eyed and …………….grumpy. So if it affects my review you’ve only yourself to blame!

As I read the opening blurb I yawned a little as the premise is not a new one, its been done before so I wondered how and if this writer might deal with it and make it different and engaging. The ‘how’ might cause me to offer spoilers which I must try not to do but the answer to the ’if’ query is, yes, he does make it different up to a point.

Opening paragraphs made me think Rear Window meets Girl on the Train but the prologue was tantalising. Crucial with a thriller because if it isn’t you can so easily lose your reader. What I also found interesting was a male writer with a first person female protagonist. Probably down to past experience but alarm bells go off in my head. However I think a very good, convincing job was done here. Much has been said and written about the differences between the male and female mind so it is always interesting to see how a writer deals with the exchanges and interactions and responses from a mind set that is not their natural one. 

The structure of the novel written in the form of one person addressing has been done before. If done well it works, be it diary, letter, journal etc, it is intriguing to wonder who the recipient is, and it also allows the writer to convey aspects of the narrative that wouldn’t work with direct unfolding of events. I liked the chapter headings which piqued my curiosity but ultimately they didn’t deliver with the impact I was hoping for. 

The novel began slowly, scene setting and allowing the reader to adjust and relax? Not for long. The pace accelerates and without wishing tor reveal too much it seems to mirror the pace of our heroine’s mind. Lily is yet another troubled character that seems to populate the so called psychological thriller so much in vogue at the moment. But without an unreliable narrator there would not be quite so much of a story. And do we enjoy reading about flawed characters because they make us feel better about our own quirks?

Once could examine the story deeply and find some social comment but there’s no compulsion to. It can be enjoyed as a darn good, debut thriller. I did piece together what had happened to a certain extent which pleases me but there were also some twists that were unexpected. That also pleases me. The conclusion isn’t one that ties up all the ends neatly. If you look for that in a novel it might disappoint but on the other hand if you want to go away thinking about what you’ve just read you’ll be delighted. 

I appreciate that I received an uncorrected, proof copy but I found mistakes in abundance and I do hope these are spotted and dealt with accordingly. It would be a shame if they find their way into the finished product.

Thanks to  Real Readers for giving me the opportunity to meet another promising novelist.Consider my appetite whetted.

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