Title: The Watcher
Author: Charles Maclean
Publication date: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Length: 332 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
There was no warning of any kind . . .’
Friday rush-hour. Martin Gregory, laden with packages, just manages to catch the 4.48 train. Tomorrow is his wife’s birthday – he has a surprise in store – and he plans to devote the weekend to her and their beloved dogs. But Saturday morning, Martin rises early and does something so horrific, so inexplicable and so out of character his only option is to run . . .
And from this shocking incident the journey begins. With the help of a therapist he can’t trust, and friends who no longer trust him, Martin’s quest for meaning takes him down shifting realities and twisting corridors of time into the deepest recesses of the human mind. It is a world of menace and obsession from which neither he – nor the reader – can escape, for Martin Gregory is either lost in a dark maze of madness and horror, or frighteningly sane.
The Watcher by Charles Maclean is another great example for the common saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. When I looked at my review copy and read the synopsis, I thought I knew what was coming: a fast paced horror story, people dying one by one, the protagonist getting madder by the day. Boy, was I wrong. Even though it’s completely different from what I expected, it’s an interesting read and without a doubt nothing like any of the horror stories I’ve read before.
Contrary to my expectations, it’s definitely not an easy read. It starts in a rather shocking way which, if you’re easily upset, might put you off. If you like dogs, I don’t recommend that you pick this up at all. While it didn’t put me off entirely, it was enough to make me feel a contempt for Martin from the very beginning. The narrative, on the other hand, is very cleverly written – one minute we see everything from Dr. Somerville’s (the therapist) perspective and think that Martin’s a lunatic, then we see things from Martin Gregory’s perspective and think that Somerville is trying to set him up, to manipulate him. Throughout two-thirds of the story, I had no idea who to belive – Martin or Somerville.
As I said, the plot is very different from what I expected. For me the first half of the novel dragged on a little bit and it didn’t really wow me, but the second half was really creepy. It’s not even what happens in the story but how Martin acts – as he’s getting more and more paranoid and mentally unstable, us readers feel less and less insecure because we have literally no idea what he’s capable of or what he might do next.
It’s quite a disturbing read, I have to agree with that – but not in a gory way, rather psychologically. If you’re looking for a murder mystery, this one is definitely not for you. Since the novel deals with regression therapy, hypnosis and how our subconscious works (rather than who kills whom), fans of psychology or psychological horror/thriller will no doubt find The Watcher rather interesting.