Happy Wednesday, December 26! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Christmas yesterday! Today I have a review of Watching You, the newest book by Lisa Jewell, and publishing today via Atria Books!
Even though I own most of her backlist, this is the first Lisa Jewell book I’ve read, and Watching You was an ideal first read from the author!
Melville Heights is a quaint neighborhood in Bristol, England. It consists of several colorfully-painted Victorian homes overlooking the city. Melville Heights reminded me of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, and I immediately imagined that type of setting because it was described so well. Everyone in Melville Heights is carrying a burden…a secret that could rock worlds. But the best, creepiest part and how the book got its title? Everyone in Melville Heights is watching you and each other.
There is an extraordinary cast of well-developed characters, such as Joey Mullen who lives with her husband, brother and sister-in-law, and has recently lost her mother. There’s also the charming, walks-on-water, Tom Fitzwilliam, the head teacher who champions school turnarounds and manages to easily attract women and teenage girls, yes those whom he is teaching, with his “dad bod.” Freddie, Tom’s teenage son, is quirky and has eyes on the whole city from his parents’ attic.
As the book opens, a woman has been murdered in Melville Heights, but we don’t know who, why, or what happened? We hear from multiple characters as the timeline goes forward in time eventually landing on the fateful day of the murder in March, along with short narratives from the police interrogation interviews interspersed throughout. I loved that particular structure. It kept me guessing and led to a great handle on each of the characters.
Overall, Watching You is a super eerie, well-written, suspenseful read. The short chapters, well-developed, complex characters, and interesting setting boosted my investment, and I devoured this delicious book in twenty-four hours. I’ll definitely be making time for Jewell’s backlist now!
Thank you to Atria Books for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods 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…
Check out these reviews by the other Book Besties:
Berit at Audio Killed the Bookmark
Mackenzie at PhDiva