Watching You (Joe O’Loughlin 6) by Michael Robotham

Creepy and disturbing…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

I am the most important figure in Marnie’s life, but she doesn’t know it yet. I am the half-figure at the edge of her photographs and the shadow in the corner of her eye that vanishes each time she turns her head. I am the ghost that dances behind her closed lids and the darkness that blinks when she blinks. I am her nameless champion, her unheralded hero, and the conductor of her symphony. I am the one who watches.

Watching youMarnie’s husband disappeared a year ago, leaving a huge gambling debt to a violent gangster. Hennessy is insisting that the debt is now Marnie’s and he’s got his own ideas of how she should earn enough to pay it back. So although she doesn’t want to give up hope of her husband’s return, Marnie needs to have him declared dead so she can claim the insurance money and get Hennessy out of her life. But the reader knows that someone is watching Marnie – someone who doesn’t like it when anyone hurts her…

This is a creepy and disturbing psychological thriller that is much more complex than it looks at first sight. I haven’t read any of Robotham’s other novels, but I gather from the blurb that Marnie’s psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, has appeared in earlier books. However, this works perfectly as a standalone, with enough information given on the recurring characters for the reader to get to know them and not so much referring back to previous books as to be annoying. When Marnie tells Joe about her need to have Daniel declared dead, Joe asks his friend, ex-detective Vincent Ruiz, to help. But when Ruiz starts investigating, he finds that there have been many odd events in Marnie’s past and begins to wonder if she knows more about Daniel’s disappearance than she’s letting on.

The book is very well-written and Robotham leads the reader on a twisting and twisted journey, full of ambiguity and false trails. The characterisation is particularly strong, and both Joe and Ruiz are attractive and enjoyable characters. Marnie is a complicated character, sometimes gaining the reader’s sympathy and support while at other times the reader joins with Ruiz in wondering if there’s another hidden side to her. There’s quite a lot of violence in the book, but it mainly happens ‘off-screen’ so adds to the chill factor without being too graphic. The story is told mainly in the third person (present tense, sadly, but aren’t they all?), but there are brief chapters intercut throughout, told in the first person from the watcher’s viewpoint. These add hugely to the tension in the book, which builds right from the beginning through to the drama of the ending. And throughout, nothing is necessarily quite what it seems…

Michael Robotham
Michael Robotham

Tense and chilling, the plot kept me guessing right to the end – the twists are done at just the right points to keep the pace up all the way through. There are aspects that stretch credulity but they’re handled well enough that they don’t jar. An effective and enjoyable thriller that will encourage me to look out for more of Robotham’s books in future.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Little, Brown and Company.

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51 thoughts on “Watching You (Joe O’Loughlin 6) by Michael Robotham

  1. FictionFan – I’m so glad you liked your first introduction to Robotham, whose work I like, for the most part, very very much. I recommend that you try his earlier work too. For instance, I like Lost quite a lot. I hope that if you get the chance to try more of his work, you’ll enjoy it.

    • Well, I’d added him to the TBR already to read another in the future, but hadn’t got around to picking one, so I’ll go for ‘Lost’…thanks for the recommendation, Margot! I enjoyed his style and he kept me guessing without completely going over my credulity-line, so yet another author to add to the long long list…

    • Thanks, C-W-W! I’m not adding this to your TBR though – not until you’ve read The Martian *imagines Professor throwing computer screen at wall*. Haha! No, the world is safe – my total inability to think up plots, create characters and write creatively have always prevented me from being a writer, oddly…

  2. Sounds interesting, but I am “present tensed” out. My (very late) New Year’s resolution is to stop reading them! 🙂

    • I absolutely agree! The problem with advance copies is that you don’t get to ‘look inside’ before committing to them so I never know what tense they’re going to be in till I’ve started. But I have started commenting to the publishers in my feedback that not just I, but most of my commenters are saying let’s stop this fashion…

  3. I’d start reading it right now if I had it in my hands. Fortunately for the things I have to do today, I don’t have it. Your review was well written – it supports the kind of book you are reviewing.

  4. Creepy. I had a stalker when I was in college. I’d get back to my apartment late at night from the library, and he would start calling. It freaked me out so much I’ve never been able to read about this kind of watcher situation since. It sounds like a good read, but I’ll have to give it a by or risk reactivating that part of my past. Whew! Another on bites the dust. 😀

    • Oh, Jilanne, I’m not surprised you’d avoid this kind of book then! How horrible! Was it someone you knew or a complete stranger? Hmm…it can be quite fun to read fiction about these things, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that the fiction is based on things that happen in real-life…

      Well, I’ll see if I can find some less creepy ones to add to your TBR – it must be dropping to dangerously low levels by now… 😉

      • It wasn’t anyone I knew, but he must have lived near me since he always seemed to call right after I got home.

        If dangerous means below 100, then you’re right. But I’m not complaining. I needed some breathing room. 😀

  5. i read this last year and thought it was probably the best psychological thriller of 2013! The suspense and tension created by this Australian author was just brilliant. I am definitely interested in reading more of his work. I am glad you liked it too.

  6. This sounds excellent -when I read the first part about someone secretly watching the main character I had an idea this would be rather too nerve-wracking to read but it seems to be a surprising twist on a stalking concept

    • It was pretty creepy in parts but not too much so – the ‘victim’ of the stalking is a pretty strong character herself and the plot’s more complex than ‘just’ a stalking. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to, and will definitely read more of his stuff…

    • I don’t know why I haven’t come across him before – so many good writers out there! However, I’ve stuck another of his books on to the TBR so I don’t forget to read some more of his stuff. Thanks for commenting! 😀

  7. I really like the sound of this! I’m just sat here scratching my head though as I’m sure I’ve read one of his books before and I can’t think what it is or whether I enjoyed it. This little beastie is definitely going on the TBR pile 🙂

    • I hate when that happens. Sometimes I get two authors mixed up in my mind too, and that makes things even more confusing! But this one is definitely worth reading, and I’ll be looking for some of his earlier stuff, when I get the chance. 🙂

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