Okay, okay. It's been a very long time since I've reviewed a book. Reviews are not my forte and I've not felt inclined to write a proper one in quite a while, but, having attended the first ever Write by the Sea author event back in November, I picked up quite a stash of novels from local authors and, for the first time in yonks, I felt quite excited to write a few reviews. As an author myself, I know how important reviews are, so it felt only right to pen a few! At the author event, I met Charlie Gallagher who, if you don't know, is somewhat of a semi-famous name in the South. We switched books - 'Number 47' for 'He Is Watching You', the first in the Maddie Ives series. 'He Is Watching You' is a police procedural crime thriller set in and around Folkestone, Kent and was released last year.
What I thought in a tweet: 'He Is Watching You' is great! The procedural elements are authentic without sacrificing character development. Though Maddie is the main character, Harry feels more original - thank god he isn't another police officer with an alcohol problem & a terrible family relationship!
A young woman's body is left in a metal container in a remote location. The killer is careful to position her under a camera that links to his smartphone. He likes to look back at his work.
He is watching her.
But she isn't dead. So he will return to finish the job.
Detective Maddie Ives is new to the area. She is handed a missing person report: a young woman with a drink problem who's been reported missing fifteen times. It looks like a waste of time. But DS Ives has a bad feeling about the woman's disappearance.
DI Harry Blaker is called to a hit and run of an elderly man left to die on a quiet country road. There is no motive and it looks like a tragic accident. But he's been working Major Crime long enough to know that something isn't quite right.
The two officers find their investigations intertwine and they will need to work together. But fast, as time is running out for the woman in the container.
Pros: It's very apparent that Charlie Gallagher comes from a policing background. The procedural elements in 'He Is Watching You' add depth and authenticity to the story, without coming across as an 'information dump'.
Gallagher's creation of Harry is incredibly refreshing to read. His character feels rich, multidimensional and very considered - it is honestly so nice to experience a male police officer's character without it relying on alcohol and a decaying relationship with a child or wife, or both. Maddie was a bit less well-rounded in my opinion. I didn't connect with her in the same way as Harry. However, her back story is very interesting, so here's hoping there's more of that later on in the series.
Something else I really appreciate is the development of the victims. In so many thriller and crime novels, it's the norm to have the victims as nameless, faceless cannon-fodder, but this wasn't the case. Gallagher built a picture of the victims and allowed the reader to connect with them in a genuine way.
Cons: Detail! Admittedly, this kind of goes both ways. You need the detail to build and maintain the authenticity, but too much of it does tend to slow down the pacing and get in the way of the plot.
Where Gallagher staid well away from a trope ridden male lead, he did unfortunately fall into the trap with his antagonist. The development of the 'baddy' in 'He Is Watching You' didn't feel particularly strong and, towards the end of the novel, felt rushed. Some elements of this character and their motivations felt retrofitted and put into the novel as an afterthought.
There were also a lot of character introductions all throughout the novel. Obviously this is necessary, but there were a lot of them and they had a tendency to pull you away from the action at times.
Overall, 'He Is Watching You' is a great read. Generally it is paced well and drops hints and clues at the resolution throughout, allowing the reader to guess what's going on - and who doesn't love doing that? This is the first book I've read by Charlie Gallagher and I'm definitely excited to grab the rest of the Maddie Ives series.
Find more from Charlie at www.writercharliegallagher.com/ Have you read many police procedural/ crime thrillers? I'd love to hear your thoughts. What's your favourite/ least favourite? Are there any tropes that really get on your nerves or do you love them all equally?