Title: The Watcher
Original Title: Der Beobachter (German)
Author: Charlotte Link
Translator: Stefan Tobler
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐
The story leads us to follow a disparate set of people who seem unconnected at the outset.
The novel begins with two elderly women, Carla Roberts and Anne Westley who live alone and are isolated from friends and family. Carla, a divorcee, lives on the top floor of a high-rise building while Anne, a widow, lives alone in a beautiful cottage on the edge of town. Both women die horrible and brutal deaths, at the hands of an unknown killer.
DI Peter Fielder and DS Christy McMarrow are unable to solve the mystery of these deaths.
There is Gillian Ward, a beautiful and accomplished woman who, along with her husband, Tom, manages the business they have both set up together. But Gillian feels increasingly alienated from Tom who is more committed to his business and his tennis than to his wife. Their 12-year-old daughter Becky is resentful and rude towards her mother.
Feeling unloved and resentful, Gillian finds herself driven into the arms of John Burton, Becky’s tennis trainer, who was once a police officer who had to leave Scotland Yard under suspicious circumstances. Those circumstances relate to an accusation relating sexual aggression against a young woman.
Gillian confides in her closest friend, Tara Caine, a lawyer, about the fact that she has strayed out of her marriage, and about how conflicted she is regarding her feelings for John. Soon after this, Tom is murdered in his own home.
Accusation falls upon Samson Segal, an unemployed 34-year-old man who lives with his brother Gavin and sister-in-law Millie in the house the two brothers have inherited from their parents. Samson is shy and reclusive and lacks confidence. He longs for a happy family of his own, a career which brings him joy, but he does not have the drive to reach out for these things. He spends almost all his free time watching the Wards, especially Gillian, who he longs for but not at the cost of breaking up her family.
Could Samson have caused the death of Tom or is he being framed for the murder by someone else? Will the police be able to solve this crime?
There were just too many characters in this novel, and we received detailed back stories to almost all of them, which made for tedious reading. Even the inspector had a thing for his sergeant, which was pointless from the point of the story.
The characters were connected to each other in such flimsy ways that it didn’t really hold my interest.
The portion that describes the killings from the killer’s point of view were in the past perfect tense, which increases the distance between the reader and the event being described.
Much of the book went on and on. It would have been better if the book had been cut short by 100 pages.
The novel raised several social issues such as loneliness and isolation, being uncared for, the difficulties in marriages and relationships, parenting challenges, sexual abuse, even paedophilia, etc, but none of them were dealt with in a convincing manner.
The conclusion seemed forced to me.