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Read and Review (R&R) – “Watching You” by Lisa Jewell

Watching You by Lisa Jewell is our book club’s October read. It is a psychological thriller published in 2018 and this author’s sixteenth book. She has twenty published novels.

This was my first read of her books.

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam.

The book starts out with a diary entry and a murder and then goes back to a narrative told in multiple points of view. It took me a while to get into this book. The beginning felt too slow and filled with the routine lives of the characters (some of them a bit creepy). Once the true action started, I found myself wrapped up under a blanket and reading for three hour stretches.

I did figure out who the killer was quite early on, but Lisa Jewell’s world-building and storytelling had me hooked and I continued to read to see how it would play out.

The author did a nice job of tying up all the loose ends and even pulled at your heart strings (slightly) for the killer.

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