Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Guest Book Review: Sinéad Crowley - Are You Watching Me?

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Dear Elizabeth,

I've been watching you

I hope to see you . . .


Liz Cafferky is on the up. Rescued from her dark past by the owner of a drop-in centre for older men, Liz soon finds herself as the charity's face - and the unwilling darling of the Dublin media.

Amidst her claustrophobic fame, Liz barely notices a letter from a new fan. But then one of the centre's clients is brutally murdered, and Elizabeth receives another, more sinister note.

Running from her own ghosts, Liz is too scared to go to the police. And with no leads, there is little Sergeant Claire Boyle can do to protect her.

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover

Are you Watching Me? is the second novel from Irish crime writer Sinéad Crowley (no relation might I add). She is a successful correspondent on the RTE news here in Ireland and has now turned her attention to writing. I readily admit I am not a huge fan of this genre. The only books I have really read would have been the Stieg Larsson series (yes I jumped on that bandwagon and enjoyed them) and Swedish female writer Camilla Lackberg. So to make me read a crime novel it must be tense and gripping. I certainly got that in Sinéad’s first novel Can Anybody Help Me? as it provided me with that jaw dropping moment of reveal, I genuinely had no clue as to the ending. I love to be proven wrong as to who is committing the crimes and that’s how a good book in this genre should be. Are You Watching Me? wasn’t as riveting as our first encounter with the characters but none the less it was still a great read for someone like me who dips in and out of the crime/thriller genre.

Detective Sergeant Claire Boyle is back on patrol after her maternity leave with baby Anna left in the capable hands of Matt or the local crèche. She has been itching to continue to make her mark in the Dublin police force. Claire is a career minded woman, independent, hardnosed, determined and with a temper that can be released with full force when needed. She is not your typical woman detective as she avoids as much interaction with female co-workers as possible preferring the company of her right hand man Flynn. She loves her daughter Anna but has been itching to sink her teeth into a new investigation and this is provided when the body of an elderly man is discovered in his own home. Soon she is embroiled in a twisting, sinister turn of events. Claire must work as fast as she can to protect Liz before any more murders can be committed. 

Liz Cafferky is communications executive at Tir na nÓg a kind of drop in centre for men. Assistance, support and a place to talk is provided for those in need. Established by Tom several years ago the centre does its best but Liz is often at her wits end trying to keep the place running. We soon realise Liz is starting over and this job is helping her to do that. They are hints alluding to her past and we understand something has made her nervous and anxious especially when it comes to appearing in public. Yet she goes ahead and gives an interview on national TV promoting the centre .This showed her appreciation that she is now in a job  in which she does her best to make someone else's life just that little bit easier. All is not well when strange comments on the centres Facebook page materialise and random unnerving letters arrive at her door signed by some unknown man.  Murder and intrigue soon follow.

I know she loved Matt but at times Claire seemed more married to the job than she was to him. She didn’t always treat him fairly and often put her own career ambitions ahead of what Matt was asking her to do at home. If a work thing came up that was put first on her agenda even if she had promised Matt some time for himself away from the baby. I’d question whether Claire views the marriage as an equal partnership. On the one hand she is to be admired for wanting to achieve so much in an often male dominated career. But then she  shouldn’t forget her family and support system. Matt is selfless to me he can see the ruthless ambition in Claire but he doesn’t want her to loose sight of their marriage and baby Anna. They need to work out a balance and near the end there was some discussion but I feel the author has left more of Claire’s personal life open to further exploration in future books. This will help balance nicely the personal alongside the investigative side.

There were links between characters tentatively established early on but the impatience in me wanted answers immediately. But I suppose that’s what a good thriller does, keep you on the edge of your seat turning the pages in the quest for information. This book ebbed and flowed for me and not always in a good way, some parts were very slow and at the time felt surplus to requirements. Liz annoyed me several times, I wanted her to get her act together and do the right thing. When she lets some men get too close to her during activities at the centre if she had been strong enough she would have given them the brush off. I know if it was Claire in that position she would have had no qualms about telling them where to go. The author did well to include so many topical issues such as homelessness, anxiety, depression, abuse and addiction. But parts just fell flat for me. Yes there was the element of mystery and I thought I had it all worked out. Yet when that moment came I wasn’t that surprised. I think I wanted something a bit more gruesome with more of an element of adventure instead I think social issues and personal issues featured heavily.

Are You Watching Me is a good read as is evident in the fact I read it an afternoon. Diehard fans of the thriller /mystery/crime genre mightn’t get what they expect from this book. But for people like me it did the job although not all the time as I said. There is plenty more to come from Claire Boyle any reader can plainly see that. I will certainly be reading the next release as I feel Sinead Crowley is only getting warmed up and can go way deeper into the murky world of the police force in Ireland. In the meantime sit back and enjoy this book for what it is a good murder mystery.

Many thanks to the publishers Quercus for this book to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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