Watching You by Michael Robotham

watchingyouWatching You by Michael Robotham (Mulholland, March 11, 2013)-It’s been 13 months since Marnie Logan’s husband Daniel disappeared, and she’s barely scraping by. She’s behind on rent on her tiny flat and has a teenage daughter and young son to support. Unfortunately, Daniel had a serious gambling problem and owes a substantial amount of money to a gangster named Hennessy, and he’s forced her into working as an escort to pay off the debt. It’s an untenable situation, made even worse because she can’t get Daniel declared dead in order to collect on his life insurance, even though it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he’s most likely not alive. Things really come to a head for Marnie when she fails to collect money from a client and her minder, Quinn gives her a beating. He’s found dead the next day with his throat cut and hers is the last number dialed from his cellphone. She’s now under suspicion of murder and her reticence to admit to working as an escort leaves her looking even more suspicious to the police. Meanwhile, she’s been seeing psychologist Joe O’Loughlin, who becomes very concerned about Marnie after she shows him her bruises from the beating. When his office is burglarized and her file is the only one taken, he starts to suspect that there is even more to her story. He recruits friend and retired cop Vincent Ruiz to help him look into Marnie’s past, and they start to notice a pattern of violence that can’t be ignored, and for a while now, Marnie has felt like someone has been watching her…

WATCHING YOU is Robotham’s 8th novel featuring Joe O’Loughlin, and it’s not my first, but it’s been a while since I’ve read a Robotham book, and really, that’s a bit of a crime in itself. It took about two pages to hook me into Marnie’s story. She’s a single mom in a desperate situation, trying very hard not to let her children suffer in any way. After all, they’re suffering from Daniel’s disappearance, and although she’s resigned to the fact that he’s most likely dead, her daughter especially hasn’t lost hope that he’ll come back to them and even has a Facebook page dedicated to finding her dad. Not only is Marnie under suspicion for murder, but she also has to endure the judgment of people that think she’s just out to collect her husband’s insurance money. As for Joe O’Loughlin, he’s separated from his wife and is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, so losing himself in Marnie’s case is a welcome distraction, but one that may prove to be very dangerous. As he digs into Marnie’s past, it starts to look like there’s much more to her than meets the eye. Could Marnie be holding something back? Robotham peels back the layers slowly, just enough to ratchet up the already high tension and introduce new doubts into the narrative. There were a few times that I thought I knew what was going on, but I didn’t know the half of it, and I love it when an author surprises me. This is a fast paced and at times, scary, read and even if this is your first Joe O’Loughlin book, it’s very new reader friendly. It takes a pro to make a tale this twisted believable, and Robotham pulls it off. This is a solid, very creepy thriller that will keep you up late, and keep you guessing.

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