I Am Watching
By Emma Kavanagh
From a distance, they seem to be sleeping. Three bodies, sitting propped up against the ancient stones of Hadrian’s Wall. A closer look reveals the horror of their too-white faces, and the ring of vivid red bruises around each neck.
The victims were found by schoolgirl Isla Bell, out on an early morning run along the historic site. That day changed the small, close-knit community of Briganton forever, and it also shaped the course of Isla’s life. Twenty years later, she’s a professor of criminal psychology at the University of Northumberland. She specializes in studying the brain function of psychopaths and serial killers, wrestling with the question that still haunts her: why? Why did Heath McGowan kill those people–and two more besides–before he was finally caught by Isla’s police detective father?
At last, Isla has a chance to get answers. Heath, previously unforthcoming about the murders, agrees to take part in her research. Isla’s husband, Ramsey–the only one of Heath’s victims to survive–cautions her against the meeting. But no matter how ready Isla feels to peer within a killer’s mind, there is no way to prepare for the fresh horror about to engulf Briganton. Another body is found, displayed just as
before . . . and then another. Is this a copycat, someone inspired by or receiving help from the serial killer behind bars? Or could the truth be darker still?
A brilliantly twisted thriller–gripping, atmospheric, and skillfully layered, I Am Watching will keep readers guessing until the very end. (Goodreads)
I enjoyed I Am Watching, especially the emphasis on the psychology of psychopaths. It was suspenseful enough to keep me reading into the night.
Isla’s life changed forever when she happened across three murder victims during an early morning run. She has made a career out of studying the psychotic mind, a life with the serial killer’s only surviving victim Ramsey. After repeated pleas to study Heath McGowan’s brain, he finally relents…and the murders start up again. Is it a copycat killer at work…or did the wrong person go to jail for the crimes twenty years ago?
I Am Watching gets off to a somewhat sluggish start. The murders and Isla’s research study are interesting enough, but the characters do not grab you and hold on tight. The lack of character development is a huge missed opportunity here and my biggest complaint about the story. Isla, her husband Ramsey, and the whole community have experienced trauma that they are never quite able to get over. Everyone has scars, but the characters are not fleshed out as well as they could have been. This makes the book enjoyable, but it could have been stellar. That said, Detective Constable Mina Arian is a bright spot, and though we do not learn a great deal about her, her tenacity in finding the truth is appealing.
I pegged the killer early on in the book, but raced through the pages to verify my hunch. This “need to know” made the book compelling for me, especially the last third or so of the tale. The buildup to the big reveal is suspenseful, but the actual execution of it was a bit lackluster. Another missed opportunity. The best aspect of the plot was that the current victims were connected to the past victims. This added depth to the tale.
I Am Watching is a nice departure from my usual historical and mystery fiction reading, and I liked it; I just hoped for a bit more from it. Recommended for suspense readers who are interested in the psychological aspects of a serial killer and readers who enjoy English police procedurals.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*