REVIEW: WATCHING YOU BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

WATCHING YOU

Author: Michael Robotham
Sphere RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

Cover of Watching You by Michael RobothamMichael Robotham’s psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-two languages and published in more than 50 countries and yet again, I’m asking myself the question, “Why haven’t I read this author before?” My introduction to this talented writer came with Watching You, a chilling read that kept me in a state of tension the whole way through. It’s well titled: “watching you” has several implications, with the central character being watched by a number of people including the police and her daughter, although for different reasons; but who is she watching … and why? Here’s the first chapter just to give you an intro – click here.

Clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin, a recurring character in Robotham’s thrillers, has been treating Marnie Logan for some time. Her husband, Daniel, has been missing for more than a year and has left her with huge debts that have fallen to her to pay. Forced to work as an escort to cover the debts, and with two children to feed and rent to pay, Marnie is depressed and increasingly desperate. Her sessions with Joe seem to be the only thing keeping her going. Marnie tells Joe she often feels as though she’s being watched. She can’t quite put her finger on why she feels like this … but she does. However, while she’s happy to talk about the present, Marnie is reluctant to talk about her past, a fact which concerns Joe. What has she got to hide?

When Marnie discovers a scrapbook Daniel was preparing for her birthday, she is shocked by what it contains. Rather than a celebration of her life, as she expected, it contains pictures, interviews with friends, former teachers, old flames and workmates with a far more negative flavour. Marnie can’t understand why people are saying these things about her – it’s almost as if they were describing someone completely different. When Marnie is questioned over the death of the man who took her to her escort jobs, Joe asks a friend to help. What they discover about her past shocks them. 

I did not want to put this book down. Fresh twists awaited me as I turned the pages, keeping my mind churning with possibilities and tension. Watching You takes readers into a twisted mind that sets your nerves on edge, but the trouble is, whose mind is it? Each time I thought I had it figured out, another possibility reared its head. And the possibilities are scary. The ending was like a punch to the gut – in one way it didn’t surprise me, but still … I sucked in my breath, not quite able to believe it. It’s the kind of ending that leaves readers reassessing all the conclusions already reached, already done and dusted, and wondering which were wrong. 

Although Watching You is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone book and I didn’t feel that I missed anything by starting the series this late in the piece. The tightly connected plot pulled the story together well, unlike some I have read recently with dual storylines that take quite a bit of work to follow. A book like this, well-crafted, skillfully timed, is a pleasure to read, even if it is a scary, pulse-racing kind of pleasure. The writing shows an author in top form and it’s clear to me that I have some catch-up reading to do.

Available from good bookstores and Hachette Australia. This copy was courtesy of Hachette.

Bookish treat: As I write, I’m yearning for a coffee and some biscotti. Something with a bit of darkness and crunch – like this book.