Several months after Claire’s husband leaves her for another woman, her friend Amy convinces her to join a local ‘singles’ group at a nearby pub, in an effort to kick-start her social life. For the past months she has been living with her 15 year old son, trying to adjust to being on her own, and her confidence is low, so the invitation to join the group seems to come at the right time for her. The other members of The Hadlington Friends appear to be in similar circumstances and at first Claire feels a sense of belonging and an affinity with her new-found pals. However she soon begins to notice a strange hooded figure crossing paths with her regularly, and a man in a car whose presence begins to unnerve her. Someone is scrawling sinister graffiti on walls near where she lives. Someone with a very dangerous mind and a deeply disturbing motive…

Only Watching You arrives hot on the heels of Mark West’s previous thriller, Don’t Go Back, which was published earlier this year. West, whose success in writing is previously across the horror genre, yet again demonstrates that he is equally adept at working in different genres. The qualities that made Don’t Go Back work so well are evident here too; fast-paced prose and direct storytelling, with well-balanced chapters, populated with engaging characters. West has a keen ear for dialogue, and it’s difficult to remember that these characters are fictional, so grounded in reality is his writing. Actually, this particular novel has quite an array of different characters – especially the ones introduced from Claire’s visit to the singles group – and the author does a fine job of making each one distinct and separate, so you never feel confused about the different names that crop up. This is particularly important because – and this is no real spoiler to anyone who reads even just casually in the thriller genre – the malign and sinister figure stalking her is actually someone much closer to her than she realises. West skilfully misdirects us with the plot developments and the manner in which he shuffles the characters around, until we think we know who is behind this campaign of harassment, before he propels things into a different direction for the final act. The denouement is tense and suitably macabre, again highlighting how the author’s writing shares a cinematic quality, and he pulls all the strands of the novel together perfectly.

Whether Mark West ever returns to writing horror is a question no one but himself can answer. But it’s certainly not an understatement to say that if he doesn’t, the horror genre’s loss is most definitely the thriller genre’s gain. Recommended.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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1 Response to ONLY WATCHING YOU by Mark West

  1. markewest says:

    Thank you!

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