A man waits for his girlfriend to pick up his Skype call. Waiting for her on the webcam, he sees something in her apartment that he wasn't expecting to see—her murder.
Concept: ★★★★ 1/2
Watching from the Dark comes out on February 25, 2020.
Watching From the Dark is the second novel in the British detective series centered on DCI Jonah Sheens and his police team, Hanson, Lightman, and O'Malley.
Aidan Poole is waiting for Zoe on Skype one night, and instead of a chat he's greeted with a gruesome murder. Who killed Zoe, and what should he do about it?
Adding fuel to the fire, Aidan doesn't directly go to the police, and his dodgy avoidance of detail raises the suspicions of DCI Sheens.
As the secrets and lies start to bubble to the surface, it appears that Zoe's life as a graduate art student wasn't as simple as it appeared...
So, some background on this series and my views on DCI Sheens. I read and reviewed the first novel, She Lies in Wait, last year and thought it was...fine. I loved the set-up and I liked the twisty turns to the finish line, but I really, really struggled with feeling a connection to DCI Sheens and found the final reveal to be a small letdown.
I had a similar experience with Watching From the Dark. So at this point it's safe to say that this is definitely a "me" problem and not the fault of these books.
The initial set-up, great. The red herrings and false alarms, entertaining. The interpersonal quagmire of the victim, really interesting. But the detective? Nope. I still didn't vibe with DCI Sheens. I found his sections distanced, nonessential to the plot, and his team's belief in his infallibility seemed extremely bizarre and unfounded to me—he's this super great detective, supposedly, but throughout the entire book the only word I could use to describe him is...predictable. Seconded by the word reactionary. If you took out Sheens and replaced him with a pigeon, the plot would still go on...and the murder would still get solved, as it seems to be his other detective, Hanson, that does most of the mental detecting. She's got character, and I've said it before, she'd make a more compelling lead protagonist.
In addition to my continued lack of interest in Sheens, I also found the ending of Watching From the Dark to be an interesting choice considering the different options presented to us throughout the book. Again, given my response to both books in this series, it seems to be a compatibility issue on my part—which is so personally frustrating, as I keep finding myself drawn to these books.
However, to end on a positive note, this novel did one thing right—I was engrossed in the whodunit pacing. I may have tried to skip through Sheens' parts, but in terms of the mystery itself I found it extremely compelling and couldn't wait to find out who did it.
Thank you to Random House for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.