You’re back home after four years working abroad with a brand new husband in tow.
You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re living with your big brother, camped out in his spare bedroom.
And then – quite unexpectedly – you meet the man next door.
He’s the head teacher of the local high school. He’s twice your age. And he’s devastatingly attractive.
Soon you find you’re watching him. All the time.
But what you don’t know is that someone is watching you.
Or that what has started as an innocent crush is quickly turning into an obsession as dark as it is deadly.
*I would like to thank the publisher, Random House UK, Cornerstone (Century), and NetGalley, for the copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Watching You is an absorbing psychological thriller from Lisa Jewell. It is my second book from the author and just like Then She Was Gone, I was utterly impressed. It is about Joey who just got back from Ibiza with a new husband, Alfie, in tow. Her mother just died and she decided it is time to move back home and start thinking about her life seriously, being a married woman and all. But it will never be easy starting over. Thankfully, they were offered by her older brother, Jack, and his pregnant wife, Rebecca, a place to stay in their lovely new house in Melville Heights. It wasn’t ideal but Joey doesn’t really have another choice. And then she saw their neighbor. A very attractive fifty-something-year-old man with a charismatic personality. He is Tom Fitzwilliam, a headmaster who’s loved by the community. Joey finds herself drawn into him, too and the simple crush slowly turns into an obsession. It is also about Freddie, the awkward teenage son of Tom and Nicola who has an unhealthy fixation in watching and observing the people around him. And then there’s sixteen-year-old Jenna who lives with her delusional mother who thinks Tom is about to get her, watching her, driving her crazy. And when a murder was committed, buried secrets started to coming out, as well.
The book started with the murder immediately laid out which presented questions such as who was it and who did it. The story then took us back a few months before the crime and introduced us to engaging and well-developed, albeit unlikeable, characters. Told in multiple POVs (Joey, Freddie, and Jenna) with interspersed transcripts of the police interview, with Joey as the main focus, it shows how they are connected to one character, Tom Fitzwilliam. Each of them is unique and have interesting stories to share. I get to see a deeper look into their lives and thus I was able to have a better understanding of some unquestionable and slightly disturbing things they did. A lot of times though, my perception of the characters change as the story unfolds and secrets were revealed. It seems like the author has a knack for constructing flawed, unlikeable characters and making them likeable and sympathetic.
Even though there are lots of characters, I still find the story easy to follow. The plot may be complex yet it was expertly woven which made it such a page-turner despite being predictable. I managed to guess the killer early on even with red herrings left and right and thus wasn’t surprised by the reveal. However, there are still some satisfying twist and turn until the end. It may be slow at times but surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by it. If anything, I was hooked.
And though there’s a lot of focus on stalking and obsession, it also touched some more issues such as mental health, bullying, pedophilia, suicide, abusive marriage, and the complicated relationship between parents and child. There’s just a lot of stuff going on and add murder to the mix and it will surely hold your attention. It got a strong start but even stronger finish and everything was tied quite neatly. Overall, it was unsettling but definitely a brilliant novel. Another solid work by Lisa Jewell, I must say.