DISCLAIMER: THE WRITE READS PROVIDED ME A DIGITAL COPY OF THE NOVEL WE WATCH YOU BY NS FORD IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
Summary I got from Goodreads:
FOUR FRIENDS. THREE ENEMIES. TWO TRAGEDIES. ONE TERRIBLE TRUTH.
A small English town is rocked by the disappearance of a local woman, Tina. As the search continues, someone is targeting her former best friends for revenge. Lauren, Jess, Claire. They all hide secrets. Who knows what they did? Who’s watching them? The truth is stranger and far more sinister than they can ever imagine.
A dark, twisty thriller which will grip you until the very last page.
N S Ford is a book fanatic, blogger and cat lover who lives in the UK with her family. She has a First Class degree in English. When not reading or blogging, she juggles her writing time with parenting, working in heritage and playing the piano.
- Blog: https://nsfordwriter.com/
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- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nsford
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/N-S-Ford/e/B09B1CPKDF/
The Red Herrings in We Watch You
Red herring is a literary device used to lead the audience often to the wrong conclusion, creating a sense of mystery or suspense in a creative work. It’s not dissimilar to how hounds are misled by the scent of a real red herring. With that said, what’s a thriller without one?
We Watch You contains a number of these misleading clues that entice and frustrate readers. Just when a fisherman thinks he’s got one, another tastier herring appears. Then he asks himself, “Am I in the right fishing spot? Maybe I should move. Should I move? Am I only fishing for herring?” (Ok, enough of the fish metaphors.)
I’m only going to be enumerating a number in this review but feel free to add more.
The novel opens with the bad news of Tina’s disappearance. Ridden with anxiety and ‘guilt’ that will only be revealed in the later chapters, her former best friends take it upon themselves to investigate only to have misfortune befall them.
This sparks the questions: Is Tina dead or alive? If she were dead, who killed her?
Red Herring 1: Ray, the Stalker – He looks and acts the part. I haven’t had a stalker but in my head, a stalker who tells you he is one is creepier than one who doesn’t. It means he’s got nothing left to lose. Ray isn’t essentially hiding. In fact, he tends to be everywhere: in The Polka Dot, at Lauren’s place, at Tina’s place. Yet, Lauren doesn’t report him to the police because he hasn’t done anything apart from acting suspiciously. His reports suggest
Red Herring 2: TJ’s Mind Space – The greatest reference only visible to the reader from the beginning that will only be discovered in the later chapters confounds the readers one blog post at a time. In the blog, Tina shares about her depression and anxiety and attempts at medication. She even gets a good engagement.
Another batch of questions arises: Did she take her own life? If she were alive, where was she?
Lauren’s neighbor hints that a “lady has just popped out to get milk”. Is that Tina?
Red Herring 3: Lauren’s recollection – First-person narration of events is often subjective and Lauren’s view isn’t different. There’s a hint of guilt here and there when she reminisces about her group’s long-lost friendship with Tina. She even
unintentionally paints her in bad light: a depressed woman who loathed anyone who tried to reach out to her, who resited to make amends with her friend even after a heartfelt apology, who associated herself with bad people to earn money.
At this point, another series of questions pop up: Given Lauren’s descriptions and Tina’s blogposts, did Tina actually stage her disappearance? For what? To seek revenge? Revenge for what?
Suddenly, Jess, Claire, and Lauren get involved in a series of mishaps giving the impression that someone -or thing – out there (Ray? Tina?) is about to get them for what they did some years ago. The suspicion intensifies.
Only for the novel to wrap up in an unexpected way- far from what those big clues have been hinting. There must be some other hints embedded in the novel overshadowed by the aforementioned clues. If that doesn’t successfully spell “suspense” or “thriller”, I don’t know what does.
My thoughts on We Watch You
I appreciate the literary devices employed in the work which made it a good thriller apart from the ones I already mentioned. Fans of flashbacks, false death, and MacGuffins will probably enjoy piecing together the clues leading to Tina’s disappearance.
I do think the characterization at the beginning is a challenging read. Bouts of childhood adventures disrupt the foundation of dread. Instead of walking through a dark tunnel, it is more of taking the subway, enjoying the stops, going through the dark tunnel, and getting off a stop again. The first-person narration is heavily affected by this format. Does Lauren think like this because of her condition? Does her condition justify this state of mentality in the middle of a crisis? Given how the plot of We Watch You is laid out, I’m convinced the characterization could have been done better.
Finally, I think those who appreciate Shutter and how the ghost is revealed may appreciate that “one terrible truth” presented in the novel and that is all I’m going to say about that.