I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll is the first “psychological thriller” I have read in months that truly lived up to the name. I use the quotation marks because I am usually disappointed by the overused descriptive term. However, that term is accurate and deserved here. I give this novel five Amazon stars and highly recommend it. It sells for USD 1.99 on Amazon. Although I read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, I will also purchase the book. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans Returned books on Kindle Unlimited disappear from my library but this is one I want to keep.
Yes, it is a page-turner; I read it in one session on a weekend, so I did not have to worry about finishing at 0300 and then go to work. I hesitate to note that this has an absolute surprise ending. I can not see any way that a reader could see this conclusion coming. I only mention this because I don’t want to encourage readers to go to the end first. Someone should probably write a book about readers that do such things. You wouldn’t want to find yourself the protagonist of a book, would you?
On a scale of one to one hundred with one being the low, minimum amount, this novel has a violence rating of possibly four. For those offended by graphic sex, a reader will have to be hyper-sensitive. This novel has a rating of two. Without violence and sex, this is an exciting, fast-paced novel. Chapters are headed by character roles such as “The Father” and sometimes a date will be added. If you don’t read the story in one session, this can be confusing because there is more than one “principal” father. As a reader, you might have to do a little bit of work to keep events in order. I mention this because I have seen reviewers of other books criticize this writing style as being too choppy. They have commented it is as if the writer had written a series of anecdotes and published them as a puzzle for the reader to assemble. I do not feel that to be the case. The author used this style to reveal layer after layer of clues in a clever, seductive manner. The reader is pulled into each successive chapter only to find that the answer to a puzzle is in the chapter after that … and so on.
Driscoll poses a huge moral dilemma in the first few pages of the novel. Ella is a passenger on a train who overhears conversations between two innocent (or not) teenage girls and two recently released older convicts. Sarah and Anna are impressed by the older experienced “bad boys.” Ella overhears the men invite the girls to a guided tour of London, one that will begin that night at a nightclub. Ella considers trying to establish their identities and phoning their parents. She doesn’t. Anna goes missing. Police can’t find the ex-convicts. And Sarah doesn’t want to admit to police what really happened the night of the disappearance. Ella hadn’t called the parents, but she would call the police. She will be an anonymous witness.
The anonymity doesn’t hold. No one knows who leaked Ella’s name to the press, but she is vilified by the public for not acting when she first overheard the conversations. Her business, a flower shop, suffers. Ella’s feelings of guilt erode her family life. The reader then gets to take sides. Ella had no responsibility for Sarah or Anna; should she feel guilty for Anna’s disappearance? How would the reader respond in a similar situation?
Then there is the story of Sarah and her family. What is she concealing from the police? What is she concealing from her mother? Why doesn’t Sarah’s sister, Lily, live at home anymore and why won’t her mother answer any questions about Lily’s screaming departure from the family? And where is Sarah’s father?
Anna’s family is the one that suffered the loss. Anna’s father is a failure at being a farmer and seems to be a failure as a husband. He has secrets that might have been revealed before Anna’s disappearance. Is he, logically, depressed about Anna’s disappearance or is he relieved that secrets won’t come out? (Nope, it is not the conclusion that you are immediately jumping at, but it is a big secret nonetheless).
This is just a great read. After writing this review, I looked at some of the other 5700+ reviews, especially the negative ones. I disagree with the negative ratings even though I see validity in their comments. My overwhelming satisfaction with this book reflects my reading preferences and style. What bothers others doesn’t bother me. It is rare that I buy a novel AFTER reading it. I highly recommend this thriller.