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The Watcher

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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?

370 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2017

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About the author

Ross Armstrong

8 books43 followers
Ross Armstrong is an actor and writer based in North London. He studied English Literature at Warwick University and acting at RADA. He's performed on stage with the RSC in shows such as Oppenheimer in the West End and with the Donmar in Hamlet on Broadway, as well as numerous TV appearances including Foyles War, Jonathan Creek, Mr Selfridge, DCI Banks and the upcoming series of Ripper Street. The Watcher is his first novel.

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5 stars
133 (8%)
4 stars
345 (21%)
3 stars
629 (38%)
2 stars
374 (22%)
1 star
151 (9%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 288 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,446 reviews7,062 followers
November 12, 2016
* Thank you to Netgalley & the publisher for my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*
*2.5 STARS*

Lily Gullick lives with her husband in a new and very stylish apartment in London. Opposite them are old council owned tower blocks that are due for demolition, but they still have tenants living in them. Lily becomes obsessed with her neighbours opposite and constantly uses binoculars to see exactly what they are up to. When firstly a student from the opposite block goes missing, and then a pensioner in the same block is murdered, Lily takes it upon herself to begin investigating residents whom she finds suspicious.

I have to be honest and say that I just couldn't connect with Lily at all, it was like there was a void where she was concerned. It did become obvious that she had mental health issues but I just think the storyline lost all credibility after a while. On a more positive note, there were actually some really heart pounding moments, but by this time I had lost interest. Sorry to be so negative but I have to say how I felt.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,320 reviews1,252 followers
May 15, 2018
I really enjoyed this book for so many reasons. Firstly it was something a bit different, the writing style, the plot, the whole concept broke me away from a lot of books read this year that had been a bit "same-same" for want of a better description. It intrigued me from page one and I was super curious as to where it was going to take me.

The book is written in the first person, almost like journal format but more free-flowing than just diary entries. For this reason we are in the main character's head right from page one and I enjoyed this in-depth aspect.

Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. Using binoculars she becomes really obsessed with spying on the neighbours in other apartments and sees quite a lot of interesting things along the way. For a lot of the book I was unsure as to the relationship between Aiden and Lily but this becomes very clear in the book towards the end. The author does a fantastic job with some really big surprise moments in this book.

When one of Lily's neighbours, Jean gets murdered she becomes determined to find answers and is on one-heck of a mission to find out. Obsessed is an understatement. She is putting pieces together, looking for clues, looking for suspects and using her "birdwatching binoculars" to help. You can be forgiven for wondering a little bit as you read this book where it is going but that is the whole clever point of it....it's meant to read that way.

The reveals are brilliant!

I am not even going to hint at them in this review except to say that this book shocked me and thrilled me with it's clever moments of allowing me into Lily's mind and her world and the ongoing flow towards the last third of the book where you really start to have everything come together in the most entertaining of ways. It's got a suspenseful and dark undertone to it and the pace is fast towards the end.

I grew to really like Lily as a character a lot and by the end of the book I had a million feelings towards her. One of the more memorable book characters I have read for some time and I am surprised somewhat at some of the 3 star and average reviews that this book has got. I would recommend reading this with zero expectations and just let the words take you on a flow with them. I loved where the book ended up taking me and it was one hell of a ride on the way.

4.5 stars for me for The Watcher. An unexpected story with a very unexpected ending.

I read an ARC of this novel from the publisher. All review opinions are my own and are completely unbiased.

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December 4, 2017
Given that I have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film and I had no idea of the premise of his 1954 classic, Rear Window, I suspect that this novel was somewhat wasted on me, the more well-disguised hat tips to the man and his films undoubtedly were. For the uninitiated, Rear Window centres on a wheelchair-bound photographer who spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder. Knowing this makes what follows in this overly lengthy four hundred page novel a little clearer, but sadly it doesn’t make it any less confusing to follow or any more rewarding to persevere with. Readers who stay the course will find themselves rewarded with a story eventually but I suspect that many will, on balance, decide it was not worth the effort given that it takes three-quarters of the book to emerge.

Lily Gullick and her husband, Aiden, live in a new-build flat in Riverview Apartments, a complex that is part of a massive regeneration project on the outskirts of Hackney, North London. As shiny new buildings complete with concierges and courtyard fountains take to the skies Lily is troubled by the social divide with the council estate directly opposite that is due for demolition and its residents to be rehoused. As the neighbourhood becomes increasingly gentrified, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture comes to Lily’s attention and she is keen to build bridges and transect the social divide. As a once keen birdwatcher she sits opposite Aiden in their apartment both engaged in their own projects, but soon Lily’s eyes aren’t so much drawn to the skies as drawn to her neighbours and through their windows! Swiftly bewitched by residents both from the estate and the surrounding new apartments, she quickly becomes obsessed with imagining their lives and inventing stories for them, complete with Hitchcock character names for each. However, when Lily tries to do the neighbourly thing and reaches out to Jean, an elderly battleaxe who has lived on the council estate her whole life, her meddling does not go unnoticed within the community. With a local student already missing from the council estate and shrewd Jean telling Lily that she sees “everything and everyone”, when she is found bludgeoned to death the next day Lily becomes convinced that Jean has been murdered and fixated on identifying the culprit.

With Aiden too busy to pay much attention and rarely lifting his head from his manuscript, Lily takes the investigation upon herself and her snooping is met with some very humorous encounters with a cast of quirky residents which prove both calamitous and highly dangerous. As it starts to seem that someone wants to nip her investigation in the bud Lily ups the ante and throws herself into establishing why someone could have been so intent on murdering Jean. Clearly Lily isn’t the only local who is conducting her original form of Neighbourhood Watch... Composed as a journal account to an unknown party with whom she is recently estranged and not ready to see face to face, the references to “Mum” and her mother’s mental health battles carry obvious heavy-handed allusions as to the likely recipient. Wanting a second opinion on everything that she is recording and hard evidence of her efforts, Lily mails these accounts weekly. As her preoccupation increases Lily withdraws from her colleagues at a job she loathes and her increasingly erratic behaviour attracts the interest of some dubious parties, not to mention the unwelcome attentions of the local police.

The central problem with this novel is the first person narrator, who takes unreliable to a whole different stratosphere and so for much of this novel (almost three-quarters of the way), readers do not know if any or even some aspects of her account are trustworthy. Given that our narrator is the central protagonist and pretty much everything that happens is seen and filtered though her eyes there is little respite from an individual with serious mental issues whom I found impossible to relate to. Evidently unbalanced, Lily ties herself up in knots with a lack of sleep and little external contact, making her an exasperating figure and her patchwork story even more questionable. Needless to say after three hundred pages spent wading through Lily’s discourse of drivel the reader is still none the wiser as to how much and which specific parts of her account are pure fiction and which contain an element of truth. It is only when the recipient of Lily’s account arrives on the scene that the reader is given the benefit of an independent adjudicator, whereby the unofficial investigations begin in earnest, thankfully with the support of a reliable accomplice!

I found the first person narrative was written in a somewhat staccato fashion, comprising of short, sharp sentences which conveyed little information. A prime case in point is, “That rumour. About that law.” which tells the readers next to nothing. I don’t know if this narrative style is supposed to be trendy or indicative of nerve jangling tension, but it definitely requires a little reading between the lines, not easy when it comes to working out what is going on in Lily’s mind! Filled with dark humour and contemporary analogies, the backdrop to the story serves as an unobtrusive take of gentrification, which Armstrong, to his credit, allows to pass without hammering home. I am all for intrigue but disappointingly this whole novel was just far too ambiguous for my liking and I feel that classifying The Watcher as a psychological thriller is stretching the very definition, given that the crime element in incidental and only comes to the fore in the final quarter of the book. My lasting impression of this story surrounds its focus on narrator Lily’s fragile mental health and the dangerous lengths that anxiety, delusions, paranoia and a lack of impulse control can drive a person to.

In short, The Watcher is three parts airy-fairy internal discourse to one part solid investigation! The last one hundred pages admittedly do make a concerted effort to build some mounting suspense, but unfortunately this reading ship had well and truly sailed by the time the tide turned!
Profile Image for Janet .
342 reviews107 followers
December 3, 2016
I went into this really not knowing what to expect.

The Watcher is something totally different from anything that I've read in a while. For a start it is written in the first person, totally from the viewpoint of the main protagonist, so you really get a sense of what all her thoughts and feelings are as she's experiencing them. Lilly is married to Aiden and lives in a newly built block of flats overlooking a block of flats that have been designated to come down to make way for a new development. Lily likes to watch what goes on around her and becomes almost obsessive like in her approach to watching her neighbours across the way. She thinks she witnesses a murder though one of the windows one day and becomes obsessed by what she has seen. In her investigation for some answers, a woman she has met in the opposite block of flats is murdered and Lily is practically taken over in her quest to find answers to what is going on around her.

Initially, I didn't know what to make of this book, mostly because of the writing style and approach and also because of Lily's habits. What kind of person does this? Is this Rear Window all over again? But the book became strangely compelling the longer I stayed in Lily's head and I have to say it is really cleverly written. The more I read on and realisation hit with the 'big twist' the more I started to love this read. In the end I absolutely loved Lily and her tenacious spirit. I might not have loved her methodology but she was a terrific character and I came away feeling empathy for a woman that had been broken but was learning to rebuild.

I suspect The Watcher is going to be a book that will divide opinion but I thoroughly enjoyed it and devoured it quickly. Much appreciation to the publishers for my copy. I highly recommend for something a bit different.
Profile Image for Erin (from Long Island, NY).
449 reviews155 followers
July 17, 2019
4.5 rounded up! What a surprise! Sometimes you go in expecting something extraordinary & sometimes not necessarily.. Well this book blew me away! I listened to the audio, it was a relatively short 1 (8 hours,) & i totally recommend it! The narrator did a great job as Lilly & really accentuated her attitude & mindset. It's funny.. With a lot of my "silly" psychological thrillers, the story gets completely swept up in the twists (& red herrings) & the "major reveal." In this 1- it was the opposite! Yes, there is a mystery.. & the story unfolds at a perfect pace. But for me, it was the narrator (1st person,) & the setting that i was completely caught up in. I enjoyed it so much that about halfway through i began to worry that it must fall apart! How else are the reviews only so-so & the avg rating somewhat blah? But no! It only got better as we figured out exactly what was going on! If you enjoy creepy, tense psychological thrillers.. Please ignore the blatant average-ness of this books GR "status" & please give it a shot! I'm still shocked! This was a great book!
Profile Image for María.
167 reviews93 followers
April 10, 2018
1 de 5 estrellas ⭐️ (no me ha gustado nada😔)
Con las ganas que tenia yo de novela de intriga y vaya chasco.
Quería decir gracias a la editorial Duomo por mandarme el libro que yo escogí y me siento apenada de que la reseña sea para darle esta baja puntuación pero soy sincera al compartir mis opiniones.
Es una novela con una estructura liosa, unos personajes con cero profundidad, la protagonista es de un carácter obsesivo que pone de los nervios y con la que en ningún momento he llegado a conectar.
La trama es floja, rebuscada y con aires de telefilm de sobremesa. Es muy larga y repetitiva, uno siento que lee y lee y no avanza en nada.
El giro que el autor da a la novela para descolocar al lector en mi opinión es absurdo y está mal construido, tengo la sensación que solo responde a la moda y tendencia literaria de dejar al lector con la boca abierta y sorprendido, así pasa en “Pérdida”, “La Chica del Tren” o “Te dejé ir”.
En definitiva para mí ha sido una decepción y ha sido la peor lectura de 2018 por el momento.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,697 reviews594 followers
December 26, 2016
Lily Gullick lives in a newbuild block of flats in London. Her apartment building, and those around her, are full of young professionals. However, the area she lives in is currently being regenerated and, directly opposite her own, new building, is a much older council estate. Half of this estate is now empty and the residents being re-housed; much to the displeasure of many of those who live there, including an elderly lady, named Jean, who is vocal about her feelings on the matter. Lily is torn between her feelings of guilt about her near neighbours and her discomfort at some of the anti-social behaviour she witnesses. She dislikes her job and feels alone – supporting her husband, Aiden, who is working on a novel. Indeed, Lily was also working on a book on Alfred Hitchhock and, in many ways, this novel is almost a tribute to him. Much of this book echoes, “Rear Window,” and there are mentions of other films.

Having finished this novel, there is much I liked about it, but I do feel it will divide readers. Lily is very much an unreliable narrator and we are aware of this from the beginning of the book, as there are disturbing, troubling mentions of events that make us question her judgement and her view on things. However, this is a first person narrative and so we are totally with Lily on her journey. For Lily is a watcher – she says she likes watching birds, but she also likes watching her neighbours and enjoys nothing more than sitting, binoculars in hand, to explore their lives. When Jean is found dead, Lily suspects foul play and sets out to discover what happened and whether her death is linked to posters, fluttering on walls, about a missing student from the same area.

This novel has lots of twists and turns and, to be honest, the first half of this book held my attention far more than the second; even though the storyline gets progressively more exciting as it goes along. Still, though, my sympathy for the character was always engaged; even as I suspected all was not as it seemed and I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel, where we get a sense of Lily and her neighbourhood. I liked this portrait of London – a city divided in so many ways. I work in a part of London which has a similar feel to that Lily lived in; where large housing estates live cheek by jowl with expensive office blocks and luxury apartment buildings, and there is a feeling of tension at times between the two, and I felt the author captured that well. Not quite a five star read for me, particularly in terms of the second half of the book, but I will certainly be interested to read more by this author. For a first novel, this was an assured debut and it had a lot of promise, so I will be excited to read his next novel.

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,471 reviews1,009 followers
September 26, 2016
**3.5 stars**

The Watcher is an interesting psychological thriller especially with reference to the main character voice. There were things I both loved and didn't love about it but overall I found it highly intriguing and addictive.

Full review and more in depth reasoning nearer publication. But I'm going to recommend it to fans of this genre for sure because its got that certain *something*
Profile Image for Zuky the BookBum.
594 reviews321 followers
December 30, 2016
My author Q&A is now live on my blog! Go check it out: http://bookbum.weebly.com/author-qas/...

...some lies, even errors and guesses, do turn out to be true.

Stay clear of most the reviews on this book so far because I accidentally skimmed over them and got some stuff ruined! Ugh! I promise I won’t spoil anything in my review!

I really like Armstrong’s style of writing, this is a fantastic debut. It’s fast paced, witty and thrilling!

The plot was so intriguing and entertaining, which is why I don’t get why people found this so average on Goodreads! Yeah, maybe the plot has been done before, but that made this no less interesting or fun to read. There were certain aspects of the story that were easily predictable, but reading them unfold made up for the fact you could guess them beforehand.

Lily was a great character! She was really sweet but also incredibly funny! I found myself chuckling at the situations she got herself into and the little anecdotes she’d often share. It was really nice to have this down-to-earth character, who was pretty barmy, troubled and weird, but also happy and friendly to the reader and fictitious neighbours.

This was a really fun book to get carried away with, totally unputdownable! I’m certainly going to keep my eyes peeled for more of Armstrong’s writing in the future.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin UK for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

p.s. I have an interview with Armstrong coming out on the 29th (the same day this is published), so please check that out on my blog! I'll link it when it's up :-)
Profile Image for Chrissana Roy.
385 reviews278 followers
August 31, 2023
2.5 ⭐⭐. Me esperaba un thriller estilo la mujer en la ventana, y me he encontrado con una protagonista Lily que me llamaba la atención su historia pero con una narración qué se me hacía muy pesada.
Vive con su marido ( qué le hace poco caso, el motivo un plot twist qué vi venir desde el principio) y pasa el tiempo vigilando a sus vecinos después de creer ver cómo cometían un crimen.
Y es que Lily es una buena protagonista pero falla el contexto con personajes secundarios poco llamativos.
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
739 reviews229 followers
April 23, 2017
Release Date: 04.25.17

Ross Armstrong's forthcoming debut novel, The Watcher, is a stylish and experimental challenge — one that will surely leave many a reader scratching his or her head when the story is done, but not without a faint sense of satisfaction . . . an inkling that something unique was just experienced.

Lily, the protagonist, lives in a new apartment building with her husband, Aiden. An avid bird watcher, she has taken to watching the people in the apartment building next to hers. Though she does not know these people, she is fascinated by them — going so far as to make names and backstories up for them. Soon she witnesses a murder and becomes entirely obsessed with catching the culprit, for she suspects he lives in the apartment she has spent so much time studying. Things get dangerous, out of control, and confusing . . . needless to say, Lily is the definition of an unreliable narrator (and I don't consider that a spoiler, as it is very much hinted at in the synopsis and apparent from page one). This is an in-depth look at a spiraling character in duress. The reader is totally inside her mind, helpless to do anything except hang on tight.

Like most reviewers have said, this novel confused me — but that's the point. It's intentional, though the reason for that does not become apparent until the story's final quarter. I must admit, I spent the first 50% of this one annoyed, lost . . . intrigued, too. This one just broods, right from the start. Lily is an interesting character, for sure. The author keeps the reader at a distance from her, yet by the end one feels as if he or she fully knows this character. I can't explain it, for this book is up to tricks I've never experienced in modern fiction. I'll say this: The Watcher contains reveals that will knock you on your ass. So buckle up.

I finished this one feeling relieved that I made it through, relieved that it was over . . . and so happy I requested an ARC. While I can't award it a full five stars (the experimental style isn't a full success; I don't feel as though I fully grasped everything, either . . . maybe that's the point?), I can give it a solid four. Recommended. The Watcher hits shelves on Tuesday; check it out if you're looking for something off-beat and a little weird.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC, which was given in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa Souza.
185 reviews51 followers
February 7, 2017
* Thank you to Netgalley & the publisher for my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*

4 stars!!!

When I first started reading this book, I seriously had no idea what to expect but I have to say the story took me completely by surprise.

The story starts off with a woman named Lily who lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build apartment. The community in which she lives is going through a process of gentrification. Lily, as an avid bird watcher, uses her hobby to spy on her neighbours' lives. One day, she witnesses suspicious going ons and then an elderly neighbour dies. This leads her to figure out what exactly happened and as she comes closer to the truth, she realises that nothing is as it seems.

I found Lily to be a very captivating character. As the story is told solely from her POV, you get a direct perspective of how she views things. Not only this, but we also catch a glimpse of the inner workings of her mind. Her thoughts, eccentricities and the like. I also found her to be pretty quirky and liked her dry sense of humour.

The pacing of the book was pretty fantastic as well. Without divulging too much, I would say the reveals and plot twists were shocking and not too mention rather surprising. The book definitely had me on the edge of my seat especially towards the end. The plot devices and clues left by the author throughout the story kept me guessing what really was going on. This to me makes for a great read because I never faced a dull moment while reading.

My only negative with the story would be that there were some chapters that delved purely into Lily's mind and at times, this distracted me from the bigger story. I also wish there was more interaction with minor characters and I would have liked to see the police a bit more involved in the story. However, these are small negatives which can be easily overlooked. Overall, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As someone who loves to read YA fantasy, this was a great break from that. I would recommend it to those who love psychological thrillers and mysteries.
Profile Image for Sandra.
34 reviews25 followers
February 14, 2018
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book: confusion .

First off, I LOVE psychological thrillers. I love any type of book that messes with my mind and confuses me. Any book that keeps me guessing, keeps me on the edge of my seat and really has me use my brain. It doesn't matter whether it's a thriller that has elements of crime or a book such as Shutter Island for example (which really is more about the main character's mental state and what he's done rather than a crime that's recently been committed and this book made me question my own sanity).

Second off, sometimes I like being confused and not knowing what the heck is going on or what the book/author is even trying to tell me. Sometimes I like being mysteriously drawn to the book and getting lost in it while still finding myself thinking "why am I even still reading this?" Sometimes I like finding a book "weird" but still wanting to finish it.

This book basically did all those things. I swear for majority of it I had no freaking clue what the heck I was even reading. I was confused. SO confused. I kept thinking "... what?" I almost quit. Until it suddenly hit me what the big reveal/twist might be. After another five pages my suspicion turned out to be right and ironically I then liked it a lot because suddenly everything made sense!

So... everyone who enjoys being made to feel really confused and like they might be losing their mind when in reality the main character is the one who isn't right in the head should read this book. I've always felt that, if the author's style makes me feel like I'm completely in the dark and a bit lost it's proof that they're really successful at writing from a confused/mentally ill person's point of view. Which makes books such as this one REALLY good in my opinion because they successfully messed with my head.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,651 reviews176 followers
March 24, 2017
I so wanted to like this book after hearing mainly good things about it. I really struggled and it took me a couple of weeks to finish it which is a long time for me. I just found the whole plot really confusing. Sadly not one for me.
Profile Image for Vikki Patis.
Author 8 books182 followers
September 12, 2016
Many thanks to the author, publisher & NetGalley for providing a review copy.

Following on from the success of Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train, we're seeing an influx of psychological thrillers, coupled with unreliable narrators and shocking twists. I'm by no means complaining - I love a good thriller, especially one that takes me completely by surprise, as The Watcher did.

Lily has just moved into a block of new flats in North London. They're still knocking down some old flats across the way, making way for more shiny, expensive flats that have become the norm in places like London. Armstrong touches upon the very real theme of people being priced out of London, kicked out of their homes. The divide between rich and poor, young and old. In many places, you see old, decrepit buildings, split into tiny studio flats, with graffiti over the walls and broken windows; and just across the street are brand new, gleaming buildings, that will set you back a pretty penny. Armstrong describes London accurately, and should be commended for telling it true.

While watching through her binoculars, Lily sees something in one of the new flats that grabs her attention, and her imagination. She begins to obsess about this particular resident, and what they might be up to. When a lady in the old block of flats is murdered, Lily makes it her mission to find out who's responsible, even if it costs her her life. The Watcher is a psychological thriller and a classic whodunit rolled into one.

I'm usually pretty good at figuring out twists before they're revealed, so when a book manages to shock me, I rate it very highly. I did figure out "whodunit", but the other twists were excellent enough to make me gasp. In order to keep this review spoiler-free, I won't say any more, but Armstrong is excellent at keeping the reader guessing, throwing red herrings in your path and coming at you from all angles.

The style of writing is another one that seems to be becoming more popular at the moment. The book is comprised of Lily's journals, where Lily addresses the reader. You wonder for a long time who she's speaking to, and why she won't answer their calls or speak to them directly. It's a clever way of writing that, when done right, can have a huge impact on the way a story is told. Armstrong gets it right.

My only nitpick is that I didn't really get Lily sometimes. I know that saying, reality is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense, or something to that effect, but actually the thing about fiction is that it has to have characters who make sense, who readers can relate to. Lily is a female character written by a male author, and that does show through at times (what women wears a bra while pottering about the house, I ask you?!). But as an unreliable narrator, Lily is excellent, and that's where Armstrong's talent shines through.

Unfortunately, this proof copy was full of errors. It needs some strong editing before it's released. I don't usually comment on this when reviewing proofs, as they're not in the final stage, but there was a particularly large number of mistakes in this, so I thought I'd mention it.

If you're a fan of eerie thrillers, you definitely don't want to miss out on The Watcher. It's a quick read, but one that will grab hold and suck you in.

See this review and many others on The Bandwagon, www.dracarya.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Karen.
576 reviews50 followers
September 9, 2017
I am notsure of the rating for this one. I really liked the plot and a lot of the story; I did care much for the delivery. There was a moment in the book that was psychological twisted and appeared out of the blue which drew me up short, but other than this one small storyline; from then on this was not developed much; I wondered if I really read this part correctly. Did that actually happen? I also could not relate to the main character's voice and there were so many uunanswered questions at the ending. The ending was exciting, but at the same time choppy. I did like that the swearing, sex and romance were nearly non existant. Storyline does seem somewhat like The Girl on the Train. 3 1/2 stars.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,905 reviews1,642 followers
December 20, 2016
The watcher is watching you but who is watching the watcher.

Married couple, Lily & Adam Gullick live in a new build flat across the road from an estate that's to be demolished. Lily is a keen birdwatcher but she can't help herself from spying on her neighbours. Then one day Lily spots something suspicious and then her elderly neighbour is found dead. Will Lily's interference go unnoticed as she unravel she the truth?

This is an enjoyable read. Worth taking a look at.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Harlequin UK, and the author Ross Armstrong for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Suzanne.
553 reviews117 followers
March 30, 2023
I have been reading low rated books on my Goodreads list to see if I can give them some love. Unfortunately this one I just didnt connect with. I didnt connect with Lily and that is one of my main criteria in rating a book. Please give it a go as you can see others really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Karen Mace.
1,902 reviews67 followers
November 22, 2016
She's watching you. But who's watching her?.........

This tagline perfectly sums up this rather chilling thriller that i've just had the pleasure to read! Definitely a book full of twists and turns and quite a sinister undertone that leaves you guessing right up until the last few pages!

This is the story of Lily, and told from her point of view. Life is seemingly perfect for her and her husband, Aiden, as they live in London in their lovely new build flat. As in many parts of London, they overlook old blocks of flats that are set for demolition and this book shines a light on the 'them and us' situation that many places suffer from nowadays.

Lily has some binoculars that she used for birdwatching, but she soon becomes more attracted to neighbour watching though windows - own up! We've all done it!! - and this soon begins to take over her reality and is all she tends to think about.

And when a student goes missing in the neighbourhood and another neighbour is murdered, Lily is convinced she has seen things through her window that could help solve the case and takes it upon herself to investigate more with no concern for her own safety! This is when the book starts to take on an extra creepy level as some of the characters she meets aren't the most pleasant and you begin to wonder why Lily is putting herself through this and not letting the police do the work instead.

But the more she interferes, the more that she seems to be making trouble for herself and there is a real sense of fear as to just how far she is willing to go to prove that she saw the perpetrator. And those around her are noticing the changes in Lily too and start to question her motives.

I really enjoyed the style of writing with this book as it didn't go over the top to state facts and grab your attention. And the pace never seemed to let up either so it was often quite difficult to put down!!

A fascinating debut thriller which I can highly recommend if you love a book that keeps you guessing from start to finish! Peeking out of my window at the neighbours will never be the same again!!

544 reviews12 followers
July 25, 2016
In this thriller, Lily and her husband Aiden have recently moved into a flat in a new build block, and Lily becomes fascinated by watching her neighbours. The block across from her is old council flats that are due to be demolished, but there are still people living there. Then a student goes missing and another woman is murdered, the night after Lily paid her a visit. Lily starts her own investigation into the crime, but it's clear that she is not mentally stable.

This is an easy-to-read thriller, but somehow I just never really got into it. Lily wasn't a very real character to me, and some of the things she did seemed very random (I didn't understand why she suddenly went round to the murder victim's house in the middle of the night, for example). By the end of it, I couldn't remember who all the different suspects were, there were so many of them, and I wasn't that interested in who did it. But if you want an easy read, it does hold the attention.

One other, completely irrelevant thing - I read an uncorrected proof copy, and you expect there to be mistakes... but this one had so many mistakes it confused me, particularly the way the dates kept changing towards the end. I don't know if the author is dyslexic, as there were lots of homophones a spell-checker wouldn't pick up (a 'rye smile' instead of a 'wry smile'; a 'wretch' instead of a 'retch', etc), and the apostrophes were all over the place. I daresay all these things will be corrected by the time it's published, though, so never mind!
Profile Image for Mike Sumner.
531 reviews24 followers
March 1, 2017
It started so well. 90 pages in and the legend on the cover that said "The Girl On The Train meets Rear Window" had a ring of authenticity. Our prime protagonist Lily is supposed to be a keen birdwatcher although she does little of that with her binoculars, preferring to spy on the residents of adjoining apartment blocks. She regales her husband Aiden with her take on their daily lives. Or does she? Careful here. Spoilers to be avoided. But then she sees something suspicious in a neighbouring tower block and keeps it to herself. I just could not connect with Lily as the story progressed. Is she being watched without realising. By whom? Why? Nobody, it appears, wants to listen to Lily's developing paranoia. She keeps a journal, it seems to be addressed to someone. But who? Will we ever find out?

There are some heart-stopping moments, particularly toward the end, which is just as well, as I was struggling to complete the book. Overall, it's good although I found much of the plot irritating. Moreover, the near 400 pages are so full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes I have to wonder if it was ever proof read. And that is not acceptable.
Profile Image for Coco.
279 reviews2 followers
January 19, 2018
2,5 Sterne. Das ganze war mir eine Spur zu verrückt, vor allem die Protagonistin war einfach nur mega seltsam.
Profile Image for Kevin.
684 reviews38 followers
August 26, 2019
I am struggling with the rating.

I struggled to get into the plot line, get a realistic feeling of the characters, which I think may be why I really didn't like or enjoy the book full stop so based on this I would normally say 1*.

I personally don't know how realistic the book is, but think that the issues dealt with were quietly and subtly introduced and handled in caring manner which gives it maybe a 3*.
Profile Image for Jan.
800 reviews252 followers
January 8, 2017
This fabulous book is a tense and terrifying journey into the world of Lily Gullick a young woman who sees something strange and worrying whilst bird watching from the window of her brand new apartment in a contemporary tower block which she and her husband Aidan bought some time ago.

From childhood Lily has been a keen birdwatcher, taught by her Dad to record and identify the different species she spots and living up here with a balcony overlooking a reservoir it’s the ideal pastime to while away her time with her binoculars. However she also has a great view of the other apartments including the remaining semi derelict old blocks of flats opposite, earmarked for imminent demolition by the new developers they are the grim and hulking crumbling relics of the 1970s with few remaining residents, save a few hardened dwellers hanging on until the bitter end in their graffiti ridden, urine scented fortress.

Lily’s story is strange and compelling, it’s clear she has a vivid imagination and her life has a dream-like and almost post-apocalyptic feel, although it’s set very much in the now of modern day city dwellers and the deep social divide between the Young upwardly mobile city workers and those who are not so much have nots as have never hads.

Lily wants to narrow this gap. She is a people watcher of extremes and has created names and even woven lives around many of the people she knows only by sight. It becomes clear that despite her accurate record keeping and obvious intelligence, she is perhaps not the most reliable of narrators.
As she begins her quest to meet and talk to her neighbours she displays an erratic side to her personality, heedless of her own safety she makes ill-judged decisions and when she sees something which really worries her, followed by a sudden death she is convinced is murder, she rushes headlong into a self-destructive investigation which is bound to end badly.

Whilst we watch her, watching others, a pattern of unreliability and instability emerge, it’s clear something is wrong in Lily’s life. Her job is unsatisfying and she is only going through the motions her husband appears to be becoming a recluse, a shut -in, and even though Lily loves him it grows harder for her to connect with him.

It’s the sense of isolation and unease as Lily’s life spirals out of control, which permeate the fabric of this book creating a really different form of tension and nail biting suspense.

There is a big OMFG moment which rocked me sideways and glimpses of Lily’s past and present coming together to create the person she has become, and underneath it all is the baffling was it … wasn’t it? murder investigation, missing girl, and strange goings on which make Lily’s life very surreal with a nightmarish quality lightened with brief moments of levity, which made this book sheer reading pleasure.

The setting of dark and crumbling monoliths of vandalised tower blocks juxtaposed against modern “Yuppie” waterside apartments, all overlooking a tranquil reservoir peopled by birds creates a stark and isolated world for Lily to inhabit and the perfect backdrop for sinister goings on.

This book is a cunning and accomplished debut, stylish, contemporary Noir thriller with a twist. I loved reading it.
Profile Image for Laura.
956 reviews77 followers
January 9, 2017
Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com

This felt like something a little different, in terms of its writing style and interesting storyline. The story is told from the perspective of Lily, through her journal-style entries she's writing to someone - we're not sure who for most of the novel - and so we see her thoughts, feelings and actions in her own voice. This voice tells the story in quite an odd narrative style, using very short, often disjointed sentences, and though I know this is Lily's voice, it really made me feel a bit bewildered at points. This really adds to the unsettling (and at times, downright bizarre!) style of the story!

I often felt like I was seeing things through an odd haze, but couldn't put my finger on why. It just didn't feel normal. To start with I didn't really enjoy the confusion, but I became used to this abstract, unsettled kind of feeling as the novel went on. Without giving too much away, the end of the book makes you realise that almost everything is in this book is included for a reason, and I really liked how, at the end, you realise that a lot of what you thought you knew wasn't quite right! These are often my favourite types of story.

I had no expectations or prior ideas of this book, having purposefully not read any reviews or coverage before starting it. I therefore found that I was really surprised and intrigued by various parts of the novel, and finished the book feeling like I'd read something that was different, whilst still having the element of suspense and mystery that I so enjoy in this kind of story. I did find it a little hard to grasp what was happening at some points, which slowed down my progress of the book, but if you feel the same then I say carry on reading, because it will become clearer (though, if you're like me, you'll probably still end it feeling somewhat confused!) Well worth a read though.

* Many thanks to Harlequin for providing a copy of this novel, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review. *
Profile Image for Deborah.
1,226 reviews87 followers
April 16, 2017
The backcover blurb on this book compares it to The Girl on the Train – which I guess is the post-Gone Girl benchmark for psychological thrillers. It is reminiscent of the popular book as we’re in the head of a narrator who may not be entirely reliable, trustworthy, or well… sane.

Although I wasn’t captivated immediately, I was most certainly intrigued – and occasionally confused (as I’m sure we’re meant to be) – as I wondered where Lily was leading us.

I should preface this by mentioning I received an early copy of this book. There were a lot of typos and the odd spelling mistake so it’s likely there were some changes before the final release.

This book is written in the guise of a letter from Lily to her father, so it’s written in second person.
The book’s intriguingly structured. Other than a prologue (which I found a tad irrelevant) the book leaps back in time to over a month before an ‘event’. Of course we don’t know what that is… because each day / section is prefaced as ‘42 days before it comes; 15 days before it comes‘. And so forth.

There was however a change to this 9 days before ‘it comes’ when Lily starts working forward – to fill us in on several days we missed. We later learn why she does this, but it’s initially a bit disconcerting, as is the occasional toing and froing from one day to the previous evening.

Armstrong offers up a lot of hints that all is not well in Lily’s world: her solicitous work colleagues and their off-hand comments; the police’s assertion that she’s a regular at the station; the gaps in her own memories; and her fear of ‘inheriting’ a mental illness.

Readers are ultimately offered a resolution, which was okay, though I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous pre-conclusion scuffle / crisis we so often find in thrillers.

Although I was – at times – unsure what I was reading (having learnt my lesson from the last book I read and realising it could evolve into something supernatural or similar) I really REALLY enjoyed Armstrong’s writing, and found Lily’s ponderings to be surprisingly insightful.

Read the full review on my site: http://www.debbish.com/books-literatu...
Profile Image for Thebooktrail.
1,638 reviews297 followers
January 3, 2017
I don't really know how to review this book. It's a little strange - yup definately strange and it was difficult to get into. Lily Gullick lives life through her binoculars and her world is out world as she narrates the novel in first person. I can't say I felt comfortable inside her head but I suppose that was the point.

She starts to obsess over the life of those in the flats opposite - people watching in the extreme - but before long she starts to see things she doesn't want to. And this is where it starts to get creepy.

Lily is a very unique character - she’s been working on a book on Alfred Hitchcock and this book does take on the shape of a Hitchcock like world. Lily also plays with your mind - she sees a murder take place and then becomes the detective. She’s not the only person to have gone missing in the area you see.

This all seeing woman seems to know more than she lets on. She’s a strange one and there’s no mistake.

What I did like about the novel was the sense of limited space, of being watched without realising it, of the birdwatcher becoming an all seeing eye of the city below and around her. This is London where people, like birds, like in concrete high rise cages, where tall towers overlook smaller and posher apartments. Where space and money equals status. And where you never really know who is watching you....
184 reviews26 followers
December 28, 2016
Lily Gullick has just moved into a gentrified part of London. A keen birdwatcher and an even keener neighbour watcher, she keeps a log of her observations on both species.

One morning, Lily wakes up to the news that a resident of one of the council estates in the area has been found dead at home. What better opportunity to put her nosiness to good use?

The Watcher is written in first person, and it feels like Lily is having a chat with the reader. She is sharp, funny, not always easy to understand but immensely likeable.

Ross Armstrong has penned an original thriller with spot-on social commentary and a main character with a remarkably strong voice. A debut that shows much promise.

(Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy!)
610 reviews7 followers
November 7, 2016
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book as an arc.
The storyline of this book sounded great but I'm afraid I didn't really enjoy this book. I felt that it was very confusing and by the end I still wasn't sure what was real and what was an illusion. I'm sure other people will love this book, however, I think it is was the unreliable narrator in this one that I couldn't relate to.
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