Editorial Note – I was given a copy of Lisa Jewell’s Watching You in return for a review.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell is a creepy thriller that will make you feel genuine chills.
The story is about a group of very different people living in the Melville Heights neighborhood in Bristol, England. It’s an upscale neighborhood so while it’s perhaps not the place where criminal activity is expected, everyone sure has a secret. While there are several characters throughout the novel, there are four main ones: Tom Fitzwilliam, the local school headmaster that everyone seems infuriated with, including his neighbor Joey Mullen who develops an obsessive crush. Then there’s Tom’s teenaged son Freddie who adopts an odd hobby of spying on the entire neighborhood. Lastly, we have Jenna Tripp, who also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For more about the synopsis, click here.
There are parallel storylines. Right off the bat, the reader learns a murder has taken place in Melville Heights but we don’t know who was murdered and who did it. At the same time, there’s also the mystery of Tom—while he seems to excel at his job and being a resource for his students, some are concerned he has ulterior motives.
We read the story from the perspectives of three characters. There are quite a bit of other characters, some unlikeable and will make your skin crawl. Everyone seems to be either spying on a neighbor, being spied on or both. Hence, the name Watching You.
The multi-perspective viewpoint with suspenseful novels really helps move these types of novels forward. Everyone comes from a different place and adds another layer to the story.
The theme of secrets
If there’s one theme that sticks out it’s the consequences of secrets and what happens when it comes to the forefront. All the characters lie to each other and themselves at different points of the novel and that brings out about all kinds of added conflict and bad behavior. As the story develops, Freddie and Joey, especially, start to get consumed with what secrets Tom is withholding. And that makes them wonder the very worst.
Sometimes when you read suspense novels, you can see right where the story will go. There’s been several novels where I’ve predicted how it will end fairly early on. Safe to say, that did not happen with story. Jewell definitely uses plenty of misdirection and when the reveals come, I was surprised. The reveals come even at the very last page.
While I finished the book, I have to say some of the disturbing elements were too extreme and unfortunately, it’s a front and center storyline for much of the book. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you have any questions about it, just let me know.
This ARC was provided by the publisher Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.