Watching YouI’m not exactly sure how to describe WATCHING YOU by Michael Robotham because for me, it was several books in one. Part procedural, part psychological thriller, part noir, and all engrossing, readable wonderfulness.

This is the seventh entry in Robotham’s Joe O’Loughlin series. Joe is a shrink (or clinical psychologist, if you prefer) who has a fascinating back-story. Among other things—and there are many other things—he has Parkinson’s disease, which doesn’t have a direct impact on the plot of his stories, but Robotham handles this aspect of Joe with such grace and honesty that it makes him all the more fascinating.

WATCHING YOU opens with Marnie Logan, a young mom, feeling like she’s being—logically enough, given the book’s title—watched. Marnie’s in a tough spot because her husband has disappeared without a trace, and she’s trying to hold her life together, with Joe’s help. Joe is possessed of a deep and abiding sense of curiosity and desire to help people who need it, and when applied to Marnie, these lead to some dark places indeed. Who is watching Marnie—if anyone is at all—and why is at the core of the story, but this is much more than a traditional whodunit.

I’m always a fan of great sidekicks, and Joe’s is one of the best in modern literature. Vincent Ruiz is a former cop who is as tough as he needs to be to survive on London’s mean streets. This isn’t a guy you’d want to cross, and one you would entrust to protect those most dear to you in a heartbeat.

Michael Robotham has an extraordinary eye for detail, and the skill to use it to color his prose without ever for a moment being overwhelming or weighty. As I was reading WATCHING YOU, I kept thinking, “oh, so it’s about X,” but as soon as I pinned down an X, it became about Y. That sounds like it might be a bit dizzying, but it’s not a bit.

I read a lot of crime fiction, and as such, I’m not easily surprised. That’s fine—I don’t need to be in order to enjoy a book—but WATCHING YOU caught me completely unawares repeatedly. Robotham is a supremely skilled and confident storyteller, and WATCHING YOU is a joy to read.

Author’s Website: