The Watcher: A Romantic Thriller Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working on sheer tenacity, she sets out to prove it.
Deputy Sheriff Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with this pathology is bizarre. Together, they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler County, but whose violence spread across the nation. Soon, the Janus-like killer, more monster than man, fixates on Kate and wants nothing more than to kill her "again."
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 59 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 18, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #197,939 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#5,819 in Women Sleuth Mysteries
#6,622 in Romantic Suspense (Audible Books & Originals)
#13,278 in Suspense (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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I won’t spoil the answer to these questions, but will say that even with these clichés, Jo Robertson still does a decent job writing romantic suspense.
I enjoyed the main characters more than I thought I would, even given their damaged psyches and emotional fragility. Kate, especially, puts her training to good use, particularly in the "woman in danger" portion of the novel. And I have to praise the author for the uniqueness of the perpetrator. In fact, I felt the one single characteristic of the villain was a rare and even genius addition to "The Watcher".
However, that's not to say I didn't have problems with this novel. Firstly, even for a small town, I thought the scene where the culprit stumbles across Kate was a little too contrived. The scene was too clumsy for me to believe that John Smith could accidentally stumble upon Kate and that’s how she gets on his radar.
But a bigger problem I had with “The Watcher” were the passages where Kate essentially relives her sister’s murder through her sister’s mind and body. I know they were identical twins, and that generally, twins do share some sense of one another even when separated, but the extent to which Kate “witnesses” Kassie’s killing was much too detailed. Rather than feeling sympathy for Kate, I was rolling my eyes. Twins or not, there is just no logic that can explain the vividness of Kate experiencing her sister’s murder. Of course, conveniently, in all the nightmares of Kate reliving her sister’s death, not once does she get a clear view of the killer. That would just be much too convenient and considerably shorten the book. SPOILER!! In fact, when Smith shows up at Kate’s apartment, she has a visceral negative reaction to him, but again, conveniently, she doesn’t recognize he’s the monster of her twin-bond nightmares. END SPOILER
Another major problem I have with Kate’s connection to the case at hand is this: since we know the killer stalks and watches his victims before he takes them, how could he remain ignorant of Kassie and Kate’s twin sisterhood? Indeed, he didn’t even know there was a sister at all!
What I initially thought as a weird change in tactic by the author became a little clearer almost immediately a few passages later. When the novel started, whenever Smith was presented, it was in his capacity as the sick sociopath of so many nightmares. Then, about more than halfway into the book, Jo Robertson switches gears and presents a fuller picture of the guy. He’s shown slowly descending into madness, and more of his family life was presented. It was just bizarre to me, that so late into the novel, the author would present other views of the villain. But, I then got an inkling as to why Uncle Mark was introduced and from then on, the switch made sense.
But, it was also the introduction of Uncle Mark and his subsequent absence so soon after his introduction that also gives us the Keystone Cops and soap opera portion of our story.
SPOILER!! It was just too incredulous to me that supposed intelligent police officers could so easily believe a text purporting to explain the Sheriff’s withdrawal from active, headline-making criminal investigations! Seriously?! Not one single person in the entire sheriff’s department thought Sheriff Marconi’s “vacation” was little off? END SPOILER
When a novel changes from presenting protagonists as relatively intelligent professionals to naïve, trusting incompetents, I really take exception to it. The authenticity of all that came before becomes suspect, and my enjoyment level takes a hit.
Soap Opera: (sigh) The contrivances begin to become too much to take. Slater’s deliberate withholding of his past comes into play with tragic, but predictable results. It’s also the soap opera aspect of betrayals and fraught relationships that results in smart, capable law enforcement suddenly taking a dip into the stupid end of the pool.
I know that in this genre, the culprit is usually depicted as having above average intelligence. Even so, I call BS on Smith having the skills to re-route the ISP address of an email so that it’s shown as originating from a false location. How exactly would a mail room clerk acquire this skill? To me, it’s just lazy and forced when the villain is shown having specialized skills that isn’t connected to his profession or interests/hobbies, and is explicitly stated to have only held menial jobs. (sigh) But, as to those menial jobs, I really have to give the stink eye to how it’s possible Smith could have sufficient funds/income to live and purchase necessary items to facilitate his killings. It just didn’t seem feasible low paying jobs, and zero family wealth would allow Smith the freedom to indulge in his dark deeds. Furthermore, for a guy in deep psychosis, he sure seems to have an eidetic memory, able to remember details about his victims from decades ago. That’s another “convenient” aspect of this novel.
Overall, I thought this novel was well written in terms of grammar and vocabulary (with only a few mistakes), and the plot was decent. I didn’t care for the super-villain characterization of the culprit, and some contrivances were one too many, but this was still a fairly readable novel. 3 stars for me.
The writing itself was okay; Robertson nails a couple of passages in a great way, but for the most part, I found the story bogged down with a lot of misplaced exposition, repeated word usage and a number of typos. Kate and Slater were interesting enough characters, but they held so much back from each other that even as the reader I didn't feel like I had much insight into their motives and histories until the end of the book, and even then I found myself lacking a lot of the feeling I wanted to experience through their relationship. While I feel like Robertson set the stage for a number of very interesting characters, I don't feel like I truly got to get into the heads of any of them, including the killer.
The plot itself was interesting and original, but it often over-complicated itself to the point that the characters were making illogical leaps that pulled me out of the story. Kate's original argument pointing to a serial killer was flimsy at best, and I found it difficult to believe that Slater would have even entertained her theories considering his background, especially what with the lack of evidence that was presented. Unfortunately, that initial conversation put me off enough that I found a lot of choices and theories developed by the characters to not be particularly convincing, rushed, or just convenient enough to move the plot along. The book was also littered with strange inconsistencies, such as the situation near the end where Slater and his officers move multiple items off of a hidden door with no explanation as to how the person inside could have placed those items after going inside. It's small, nitpicky things that may be forgivable if done once or twice, but I found the book to be littered with these inconsistencies.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I found there to be a lot of unchecked sexism and bigotry in the book that seemed bizarrely inaccurate and out of the place. For example, Klinefelter syndrome is discussed, but poorly represented and never even properly named, so much so that I wonder how much research the author did before choosing to include it in her narrative. The casual sexism was also continually off-putting to me. While I am hardly one to complain about a little romance in the books I read, Kate was often objectified unnecessarily by most of the guys she worked with and shamed multiple times by her love interest for... basically existing as a woman. As a woman who has worked in male-dominated fields most of my adult life, I certainly understand that this can be a very realistic experience. However, I didn't feel like the author used it in a manner to highlight the injustices of workplace sexism or as a vehicle to get Kate to stand up for herself. Moreso, it feels like she just confused flirtation with harassment on a number of occasions throughout the story.
All and all, I did enjoy this book enough to finish it. It was a fun and easy read, and the characters and story were interesting enough that I wanted to see how it was all resolved. It really wasn't bad for a debut novel. However, there were a number of things I found confusing or left a bad taste in my mouth, which caused me to not enjoy the book as much as I would have liked to.
Top reviews from other countries
Well written with some very intriguing parts. I certainly didn't see it coming that the killer would pursue Kate, not realising she was a twin and not the re-emergence of the girl he'd murdered years before. I really liked that. Also liked how you hid who the killer's uncle was until the end. That was well staged and clever.
The characters were on the whole very easy to get into but it drove me mad the constant flipping between the killer's titles. Both the name 'Smith' and 'The Watcher' were thrown in on rotation, often on the same page and sometimes in the same paragraph. Just using the name Smith would actually have more impact. Maybe use 'The Watcher' once or twice to link to the title of the story but the constant see-sawing is very distracting; it felt like we were talking about two different people.
I also would have much rather the story focused on the crime and investigation aspects and not Ben and Kate's sexual adventures. I'm no prude but it just seemed to weigh the story down. It would have been better to have kept the romantic tension going and add a sex scene at the end -- or not at all. The story didn't need it and it really didn't add anything. I felt like I wanted to get through those to get on with the story. Did we really need a heavy sex scene at night for it to jump straight to waking up the next morning and having more sex.
I couldn't work out why she was withholding information? There really wasn't any point in her doing that. What did it matter if she told him about the other murders at the start - and that of her sister as there wasn't any consequences to telling him.
I also didn't understand why she was so dramatically upset that Ben had not mentioned the tragic death of his son. They'd only known each other for weeks. Other than sex and the case they had no history at all, so her cold shouldering him over it seemed a little silly to me.
I loved the abduction scene and Ben's reaction after. The moments you gave us from Smith's POV were brilliant. I really feel if you replaced some of the sex with more material with Smith's warped way of thinking you would have a book that engaged from the start to the finish.
You certainly do have real writing skills but I had the feeling you were trying to write to a formula rather than letting what is clearly a strong imagination run free.
Let Smith run riot and leave Kate and Ben to give smouldering glances in a pairing that takes the whole book to build. For me, romantic thrillers do work well as long they are in balance and don't slow the energy of the book.
And please check for plot errors. There a few glaring ones.
Good luck with your future books.
It was well put together, believable characters and the baddie was so wrong he was creepy. The balance of tension between the lead characters as their relationship developed then faltered due to misunderstanding. (Personally I thought she was being a little selfish here)
It would have been good to have more backstory on the monster, there were little hints but nothing concrete and only waffley hints of oddness. Or do I have to read more in the series to get to the bottom of the file that the FBI ran off with??
Much of the tale is standard serial killer fare but in this book an effort is made to explain why the killer ( the eponymous "watcher") does his thing. It lacks a little bit of continuity and the characters are a little thin hence four not five stars. It made a good holiday read.