Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"The Watcher" by Grace Monroe

A serial killer dubbed The Edinburgh Ripper is killing red-haired prostitutes and removing their hands and feet. One victim is found with the message "More Will Die" written on her body in lipstick.

American tourist Thomas Foster is arrested for the crimes, and his obscenely rich father organises Brodie McLennan to be his lawyer. Brodie is certain that Thomas is innocent, but Detective Inspector Duncan Bancho is equally certain of his guilt. The two frequently clash over their opinions.

Little does Brodie know, but somebody is watching her. Since she has red hair herself, it appears she could be a target. And so could her thirteen-year-old half-sister Connie.

I don't know why I'm revealing less here than the plot description on the back of the book. The book happily states that Connie is kidnapped by the killer, but this doesn't actually happen until the 200-page mark, whilst the novel falls short of 400 pages. So, yes, half the book is mostly filler until the "big" event occurs. The book description also mentions Eastern European human traffickers and a "depraved" Internet chat room, but both of those elements are touched upon quite infrequently.

"The Watcher" was a really terrible book. It was badly written. Character actions rarely made sense. Why was everybody always slamming each other up against walls? I particularly disliked the character of Brodie. She was a strident, holier-than-thou pain in the ass. If a serial killer is breaking into your home, leaving you messages, making all sorts of personal contact, you call the police, don't you? Not Brodie. She thinks the police will only make it worse because she doesn't like Duncan. Of course, she's the only one who can handle the situation. That must be why she has a complete breakdown. Ugh. I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and throttle her. I really detested her.

There are a couple of creepy moments, but these are undermined by the ending in which (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) The Watcher is revealed to not really be a killer at all and kidnapped Connie to protect her from the real killer. I'm sure there are better ways to protect a person than breaking the law and making the family members go through hell. Especially since Brodie and her extended family have connections to POWERFUL, SCARY MEMBERS OF THE CRIMINAL UNDERWORLD FOR F***'S SAKE! Maybe a quick anonymous phone call to say "Hey, head's up, but I think Connie could be in danger. Get your criminal underworld mates who love her dearly to keep an extra eye on her, huh?" END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER END OF SPOILER.

Slow-paced, unlikeable characters and non-sensical plotting. It's not hard to see why this series ended after the next book (this one was the third). Although how even four entries saw the light of day is hard to understand.

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