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by Lisa Jewell
Atria Books, December 2018
336 pages
ISBN: 1501190075

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lisa Jewell's WATCHING YOU tells a tale of obsession, stalking, and murder. Melville is supposed to be the safest of neighborhoods, but how can it be when the headmaster's wife is murdered? Everyone has secrets, everyone has motives, and everyone is watching.

Twenty-eight and still looking for meaning in her life, Joey Mullen has returned from years abroad bringing her new husband, Alfie, with her. Having lost her mother, and with her dad quickly moved on, she agrees to stay with her brother Jack and his pregnant wife, Rebecca. Jack is more than happy to have his sister back home, but Joey is more lost than ever. Rebecca doesn't seem excited to have a strange man and a distant sister-in-law living in her new home, and Alfie is already looking to expand their family much to Joey's frustration.

Shortly after moving in, Joey becomes infatuated with their neighbor and headmaster of a nearby school, Tom Fitzwilliam. Joey isn't the only one though, with plenty of students striving for his attention. These students include Bess, best friend of Jenna Young. Jenna lives with her mother, a severely paranoid woman who thinks that the Fitzwilliams are nothing but trouble, and that Tom is the leader of a "gang-stalking" group who are set out to ruin her life. Already troubled with her mother, Jenna's worries double as Tom begins to show a keen interest in Bess. Scared that something awful will happen, she goes to Freddie Fitzwilliam.

The young son of the headmaster, Freddie spends most of his time staring at the neighborhood through his binoculars, especially the girls who go to his father's school. When Jenna comes to him with questions, he is compelled to discover the answers as well, and Jenna and Freddie will discover things that were never meant to be seen.

I'm desperately trying not to sound too clichéd, but nothing truly is as it seems. Police reports are mixed throughout the story, suddenly reminding you that a murder is going to happen. In these moments, you almost feel helpless as you recall Joey's infatuation or Jenna's fears about Tom and her best friend. Everyone has a strong motive, but just when you think you know who the killer is, someone else comes along and disrupts all the evidence you pulled together.

Joey is the main character, however, and her story is a roller coaster of obsession, melancholy, deceit, and betrayal. I connected well with Joey's story. It was refreshing to read about a character who has led a particularly nice life but still struggles to find her place in the world and with her morality.

It was also refreshing to read a story with multiple character views and not have them confused with the others. Focus is placed on every character, allowing you to get to know them individually - their daily lives and their secrets. There wasn't a moment where I forgot who I was reading about, or what they were dealing with.

What captivated me the most was how much time was leading up to the murder. You know it's going to happen, but all you can do is wait. The suspense was killing me as I drew closer to the end, and even then, I was shocked with who the killer really was. Beyond that there is another mystery going on that I will let you discover yourselves, but the reveal of that will hit you like a punch in the gut.

I loved the characters, the drama, and the mysteries surrounding them all. So much so that I reread the book on my next day off. Rereading the book brought all new sorts of revelations. There was so much foreshadowing I missed; evidence that I didn't see until the very end! It's ever present, and yet hidden so carefully that you have to watch closer than Freddie and his photographic binoculars. I can't wait to read it again and find more secrets I may have missed.

This is a must read for those who enjoy thrilling family drama and romance. It's easy to read, suspenseful, and satisfying. It will make you question your neighbors, your town, and yourself. You might never know who is WATCHING YOU.

§ Keshena Hanson recently earned a degree in English from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and was published in the University's Sheepshead Review. Her love for mystery started with Blue's Clues, and now she reads any mystery she can get her hands on.

Reviewed by Keshena Hanson, November 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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