Book Review: Are You Watching Me? By Sinéad Crowley

Publisher: Quercus  |  Publication date: 2nd July 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (review copy)

Well, this got a wee bit sinister, didn’t it? All of the characters have their fair share of issues between them, and although the story starts at a relatively gentle pace, it works itself up to quite the psychological crescendo.

Are You Watching Me by Sinead Crowley

Find simmering suspense in: Are you Watching Me?

After a shaky few years, Liz Cafferky now works as an assistant at a centre in Dublin for  homeless / troubled men. It reaches out to a few ‘regulars’ and she can stand the company of some more than others. (Some are just down on their luck, some are simply lonely, and some are downright creepy.)

But her boss, Tom Carthy, has instilled in her the mantra: treat everyone with kindness and don’t judge – everyone has a story. Well, it’s not easy, but she just wants to continue her quiet life, so she tries to appease him.

Following a television interview to raise the Centre’s profile, that quiet life has unexpectedly disappeared and she’s become something of a local celebrity. When donations start coming in she realises that perhaps it might be worth it.

Except the TV appearance has earned this private lass a special ‘fan’, who is sending her little notes. Even though the whole thing strikes her as incredibly weird she is reluctant to alert the police, as he fears she’ll be forced to give the skeletons in her own cupboard a good airing.

Dear Elizabeth, I’ve been watching you, I hope to see you . . .Soon.

While Liz frets over her anonymous ‘admirer’, we are treated to a read insight into the obsessive state of mind, as we get to read their unnerving, little monologues when their thoughts are of the young Liz. The author has been careful to conceal the culprit’s identity, which adds to the escalating tension.

When the body of a man is discovered in his house by one of his neighbours and he’s identified as one of the centre’s regulars, alarm bells should be pealing, particularly as it’s not natural causes. But as the victim’s a loner who fell out of step with his old life some time ago, and no one except Liz knows about her weird correspondence, the police are well and truly in the dark.

And that’s all the authorities need – a suspected murder case with practically no leads. This is not in the slightest bit helpful to Detective Sergeant Claire Boyle, who is the investigating officer and is recently returned from maternity leave. She *thinks* she’s got everything sussed, but her family balance has changed with the arrival of her daughter. Although motherhood is ‘never-bloody-ending’ (her words) she’s trying not to let her personal circumstances get in the way of her investigation. Life inevitably becomes strained, which is something she doesn’t have time for, especially when she needs to knuckle-down and catch a killer.

With so many flawed characters hanging around the scene, each one carrying their own secret baggage, it was impossible to point the finger at any one of them until the story progressed much further and a motive establishes itself.

And I just love a book that uses local dialects to their full advantage in conversation exchanges. I’ll admit I don’t know anything about Ireland, but for me the phrases and accents gave another dimension to the peeps that starred in Are You Watching Me?

This is full of genuinely fascinating characters with a whole lot of past affecting their current lives. Simply sit back and enjoy the suspense as it bubbles to the surface. Well worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the Publisher for allowing me to download this title from Netgalley.)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @SCrowleyAuthor  |  Publisher: @quercusbooks




The Blood Dimmed Tide, by Anthony Quinn

Publisher: No Exit Press | Publication date: 23rd October 2014 | Edition: Paperback

 Less than seventy miles away in France, men with grimy uniforms exhaled their final breaths in foxholes and filthy burrows, while back home lights were dimmed in sitting rooms as anxious relatives took up their listening posts…Ouija boards, moving tables, listening trumpets, mysterious lights, magic lanterns and crystal balls, all help the population confront its grief…

Blood immed Tide

There’s some cracking artwork on the cover of this unusual crime solving mystery.

Considering the amount of twists and turns in the storyline, you’d expect this book to be much larger than it is!

It’s steeped in Irish history and myth, and portrays the turmoil of the era. Every portion of it makes a play for all five senses (six, if you count the supernatural).

There’s murder, intrigue, rebellion, politics, secret societies, spies, marital disharmony and a bit of smuggling thrown in for good measure *pauses for breath here…*

Briefly, WB Yeats’ interest in the supernatural world is convincingly written into this story, as certain aspects from the reality of Yeats’ life were threaded throughout the pages. The famous poet sends his ghost-hunting understudy (and ex-medical student) to investigate the murder of a young woman, whose body had mysteriously washed up on a beach in Ireland, Yeats’ birthplace.

As the old saying goes ‘the plot thickens’. From the outset of the young man’s journey on the boat, a reoccurring theme accompanied his entire quest – he didn’t know what he’d let himself in for, and he had no idea who to trust.

The writer’s descriptions were phrased quite beautifully. I’d go as far to say that the style was quite calming to read.

Despite this, there were parts that I just found myself skimming rather than absorbing, just so I didn’t miss anything vital in the storyline. For some reason, I wasn’t as engaged with this book as I thought I would be, which surprised me as I do love a good mystery.

All in all I did find The Blood Dimmed Tide an enchanting and interesting read. It was well written and I’m glad I was given an opportunity to read it.

Rating: 3.5/5

(I must thank Oldcastle Books (No Exit Press) for this book, which I was lucky to win in a competition they ran.)

You can follow the writer on Twitter: @ajpquinn | Publisher: @noexitpress