Review: ‘The Watcher’, by Ross Armstrong


Published by: HQ

Publication Date: 21st September 2017

Format: Paperback

I.S.B.N.: 9780008181178

Price: £7.99


She’s watching you, but who’s watching her?

Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. A keen birdwatcher, she can’t help spying on her neighbours.

Until one day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her elderly neighbour Jean is found dead. Lily, intrigued by the social divide in her local area as it becomes increasingly gentrified, knows that she has to act. But her interference is not going unnoticed, and as she starts to get close to the truth, her own life comes under threat.

But can Lily really trust everything she sees?

My Review

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review

I was confused by this book, and I suspect that might be deliberate.

Lily lives with her husband in a new block of flats, a redevlopment project that’s forcing out residents who’ve spent their whole lives in the old blocks. She’s a twitcher, and she’s not just watching the avian residents. A young woman has gone missing and then another older woman, who Lily had visited, is found dead. Lily is certain there’s a murderer in the new builds.

She’s making a list and checking everyone. Things start to get out of hand when she gets caught breaking into the suspect’s flat a second time.

The book is written in first person, ‘by’ Lily, as a journal that she sends to her father in Brittany every week. It slowly becomes obvious that Lily is a very unreliable narrator, her thinking is distorted, and when her father arrives to check on her it becomes obvious just how much she’s been having delusions, and the trigger that sent her into the episode. Slowly, with her father’s help, Lily feels her way back to something like reality, but she’s still certain there’s a murderer on the estate.

She’s right, but I’m not telling you who the murderer is.

I liked this novel, although it confused me at first and left me feeling unsettled throughout. Unsettled and anxious. I couldn’t work out what was going on, although I’d guessed some of the plot points. I’m certain it’s entirely deliberate on the part of the author, mention of Hitchcock at the beginning and end confirmed that for me.

First person isn’t my favourite perspective, but this time it worked really well. I don’t think the narrative would have worked any other way. The prose was good and writing convincing. Definitely one for the psychological thriller fans.



Further comment: My sister wants to read this book. I got a message from her today. She works for a large supermarket, putting out books and concessions. Opening a box of books today for next week she was surprised to see The Watcher staring back at her. I suppose I’d better let her have my copy.





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