Thanks to Real Readers and Harlequin Mira for my advanced copy.
The Watcher by Ross Armstrong is a debut thriller set London. It’s right on trend with it’s an unreliable narrator Lily, a birdwatcher, as the main character.
Lily lives in a new luxury apartment in a part of London that is in the process of being gentrified. She likes to watch her neighbours with binoculars, making notes about them just as she does when birdwatching. She starts to record some very strange goings on in a flat opposite that then leads her to discovering other disconcerting occurrences in the area. The story is told through journal entries or letters to an unidentified person.
Lily is not a particularly friendly character and gets odder as the book progresses. I don’t think I’d want her as a neighbour or a friend because I couldn’t decide whether she really was witnessing the events or imagining it all. The setting of the luxury apartments side by side with the old high rise being demolished worked well for me. I could imagine it being an anonymous place to live where I wouldn’t really know my neighbours and therefore could become obsessed by what was going on. The pace was good although a little confusing with the chapter titles going back and forth with the time-line of the plot.
There were some good twists throughout but the ending didn’t surprise me as much as I hoped.
If you enjoy thrillers with unreliable narrators then this is for you. I also think this would work very well in a book club particularly discussing neighbours, and the gentrification of cities.