Lisa Jewell's Then She Was Gone is one of the better thrillers I've read recently, so I knew I wanted to try out her new offering, Watching You. Jewell's mastery of the thriller shines here as she steps backward from the scene of a murder in a small English town, bringing together a cast of characters all focused on one charismatic man: the headmaster of a local school, Tom Fitzwilliam.
A young newlywed develops an unhealthy infatuation with Tom, while a teen girl in the neighborhood is convinced he's not all he seems--and her mentally ill mother agrees. Tom's son, in the meantime, grapples with his own mixed feelings about his father while he watches and records the goings-on in the neighborhood.
The loose ties between the characters tighten as past meets present and Jewell manages to surprise without resorting to twists that feel gimmicky. I'm not a devoted reader of thrillers, but I'll continue to pick up her books knowing I'm in for a twisty and satisfying read.
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The instant New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the “riveting thriller” (PopSugar) Then She Was Gone delivers another suspenseful page-turner about a shocking murder in a picturesque and well-to-do English town, perfect “for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Luckiest Girl Alive” (Library Journal).
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…
In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant “bone-chilling suspense” (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something. Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As “Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace” (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page.