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Friday, 30 November 2012

Charles MacLean - The Watcher

REVIEW BY BETH HILTON LIVE ON BOOKSHOW I read a lot - probably three books a week - and this is the first one in years to really blow me away. It's a psychological thriller. It tells the story of a seemingly ordinary guy called Martin Gregory. It starts with him coming home from work on the train every day. He comes home, walks his dogs, wraps the presents he's bought for his wife's birthday the next day then goes to bed. So far so ordinary. But the next morning he gets up, finishes wrapping the presents and then suddenly does something really horrific. It's totally out of his character and he has a short nervous breakdown. The rest of the book is taken up with him visiting a psychologist. Martin is sure that nothing has prompted his behaviour and the psychologist is sure there's a reason behind it. So he regresses him and he starts spewing out these supposed past lives. Martin becomes convinced that he really lived these lives and the psychologist is convinced that Martin's unconscious mind is inventing them to compensate for his guilt over something he did when he was little. So it goes back and forth between them - one minute we're seeing events from Martin's point of view and we're sure he really has led these past lives and then we're in the doctor's head and we're sure its not real and Martin is crazy and homicidal. It's really clever - it employs the whole unreliable narrator trick very effectively. It becomes very tense towards the end. I was reading it in bed and I couldn't get to sleep for thinking about it. So even though I was exhausted I had to put the light on and finish it even though I had to literally hold both my eyelids open. It's quite hard to find anything out about the author. Apparently he only writes one novel per decade and each one takes about four years. He's Scottish and went to Eton and has also written some books about Scotland. I'm currently reading another of his books called The Silence, but I'm not very far in yet. It's about a woman whose seemingly perfect life of luxury is really a ruin of deception and abuse. "An attempt to escape with her son - traumatized into total silence - leads her into more trouble than she could have ever imagined."

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