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The Watcher by Ross Armstrong
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The Watcher

by Ross Armstrong

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I had read a number of good reviews about this book and so was keen to read it. However, at no point did I feel able to engage with either Lily, the narrator or with the developing plot. Instead of feeling drawn into the story, which was meant to be full of tension and menace, I constantly found myself being hyper-critical of the author's writing style and, at times, disturbing syntax. I was tempted to give up after the first fifty or so pages but, because of the rave reviews I persevered but now wish I hadn't wasted valuable reading time! A real disappointment. ( )
  linda.a. | Oct 22, 2017 |
This novel's narrator, Lily, is a bird watcher who begins to observe her neighbors through her binoculars as much as she observes birds. In due time, of course, she observes a neighbor's death and begins to suspect another of murder. I struggled with the writing in this book - while sometimes poetic, the combination of an edgy writing style that required un-encrypting and an unreliable narrator were enough to confuse a reader. Otherwise, a decent mystery and somewhat similar to The Girl on the Train. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | May 28, 2017 |
The Watcher by Ross Armstrong is a recommended novel of suspense with an unreliable narrator.

"Lily Gullick lives with her husband, Aiden, in a brand-new apartment opposite a building that has been marked for demolition. A keen bird-watcher, she can't help spying on her neighbors.
Until one day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars, and soon her elderly neighbor 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."

With a nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window, the narrator, Lily, is watching her neighbors and neighborhood out her window with binoculars and giving those she sees names, as well as recording what they are doing. Her husband, Aiden is even writing a book about the famous director. The Watcher is written in the form of a long letter or journal entry to a recipient who is identified much later in the book. As the novel progresses, Lily reveals more about herself and you will begin to realize that something is off with her and her responses. Can she be believed?

This is a satisfying debut novel and has several surprises along the way that you won't see coming - along with some you might. Since Lily is the only character we have any insight into, we have to view the action through her perceptions and conclusions - and they will start to feel skewed after a bit. It is a novel about perception and creates a fair amount of psychological suspense as the action and Lily's conclusions become more intense.

Those who enjoy mysteries and like following the point-of-view of one character should certainly look into The Watcher.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1981335402
on 4/25/17 http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/ ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Apr 24, 2017 |
Well, this book wasn't what I was expecting at all! Lily Gullick, the main character, is a bird watcher and lives in a block of flats by a reservoir. In true Hitchcock style she ends up watching the people in neighbouring blocks and sees things that she wishes she hadn't.

Lily is the ultimate in unreliable narrators and finds herself in all kinds of bizarre situations. The story starts quite oddly and I did wonder at the beginning if I was going to like it but then I found myself pressing the button on my Kindle as fast as I could as I got more and more engrossed in Lily's rather kamikaze search for her neighbour's killer. It did take me a while to get to grips with the way it was written. It was like I didn't fully understand what was going on and who Lily was addressing, as she is telling her story to a third party rather than to the reader. But then I started to get a bit suspicious and all of a sudden it all slotted into place. A lot of things made sense but still there was this unreliable narrator and right up the end I didn't know what was real and what wasn't.

The Watcher is definitely a page turning psychological thriller. Sometimes quite comical with some heart-stopping moments in there, this is probably one of the most unique books I have read for a while. I actually quite liked Lily and I thought the way the author combined her search for a killer with bird watching techniques and ways of recording sightings was really clever. Being a nosy parker myself, I could sort of understand how interesting she found it to peer into her neighbours' lives, although it did all get rather out of hand!

It's a riveting read and it's a little bit bonkers. It's an accomplished debut novel from a writer with an unusual style. ( )
  nicx27 | Jan 2, 2017 |
The Watcher - Ross Armstrong

If I’m grumpy today, Ross Armstrong, it’s all your fault. If you hadn’t written The Watcher I might be properly refreshed after a good night’s sleep. But because I simply could not put the book down until I had finished it I am now tired, bleary eyed and …………….grumpy. So if it affects my review you’ve only yourself to blame!

As I read the opening blurb I yawned a little as the premise is not a new one, its been done before so I wondered how and if this writer might deal with it and make it different and engaging. The ‘how’ might cause me to offer spoilers which I must try not to do but the answer to the ’if’ query is, yes, he does make it different up to a point.

Opening paragraphs made me think Rear Window meets Girl on the Train but the prologue was tantalising. Crucial with a thriller because if it isn’t you can so easily lose your reader. What I also found interesting was a male writer with a first person female protagonist. Probably down to past experience but alarm bells go off in my head. However I think a very good, convincing job was done here. Much has been said and written about the differences between the male and female mind so it is always interesting to see how a writer deals with the exchanges and interactions and responses from a mind set that is not their natural one.

The structure of the novel written in the form of one person addressing has been done before. If done well it works, be it diary, letter, journal etc, it is intriguing to wonder who the recipient is, and it also allows the writer to convey aspects of the narrative that wouldn’t work with direct unfolding of events. I liked the chapter headings which piqued my curiosity but ultimately they didn’t deliver with the impact I was hoping for.

The novel began slowly, scene setting and allowing the reader to adjust and relax? Not for long. The pace accelerates and without wishing tor reveal too much it seems to mirror the pace of our heroine’s mind. Lily is yet another troubled character that seems to populate the so called psychological thriller so much in vogue at the moment. But without an unreliable narrator there would not be quite so much of a story. And do we enjoy reading about flawed characters because they make us feel better about our own quirks?

Once could examine the story deeply and find some social comment but there’s no compulsion to. It can be enjoyed as a darn good, debut thriller. I did piece together what had happened to a certain extent which pleases me but there were also some twists that were unexpected. That also pleases me. The conclusion isn’t one that ties up all the ends neatly. If you look for that in a novel it might disappoint but on the other hand if you want to go away thinking about what you’ve just read you’ll be delighted.

I appreciate that I received an uncorrected, proof copy but I found mistakes in abundance and I do hope these are spotted and dealt with accordingly. It would be a shame if they find their way into the finished product.

Thanks to Real Readers for giving me the opportunity to meet another promising novelist.Consider my appetite whetted. ( )
  shizz | Nov 27, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0008181187, Hardcover)

'Ross Armstrong will feed your appetite for suspense.' - The Evening Standard 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? 'The Watcher is an intense, unsettling read...one that had me feeling like I needed to keep checking over my shoulder as I read.' - Lisa Hall, bestselling author of Between You and Me

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 27 Nov 2016 07:07:13 -0500)

Lily Gullick, an avid bird watcher who's also been spying on her neighbors, sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her elderly neighbor is found dead. Can Lily really trust everything she sees?

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