The Watchers by Jon Steele

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The Watchers by Jon Steele

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: The location is Switzerland where nothing really exciting happens (according to one of the main characters). But perhaps he'll change his mind as he's caught up, along with two others, in a complex situation involving intrigue, suspicion, lies and quite a high level of danger.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 560 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Bantam Press
ISBN: 978-0593067512

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At over 500 pages I'm sincerely hoping that this book is going to appeal. The back cover blurb is promising, informing the reader that the author is a well-travelled cameraman/editor of many years standing. The story opens with a young Marc Rochat starting a new life in Switzerland. Everything is strange and new to him. He becomes a night-watchman at the local cathedral and carries out his duties diligently. He doesn't mind the fact that it's a rather solitary job as he more than makes up for the silence (when the bells are not ringing that is) by chatting away to all of the various bells as if they were human. Marc's conversations with his 'ladies' are utterly charming. I could listen to them all day.

Then we cut to call-girl Katherine and the language and the tone immediately changes. It's modern, brash and even a little vulgar and is a superb contrast to that of naive Marc. We get an insight into some of Katherine's clients - rich men with expensive tastes with more than enough money to buy Katherine's err... company for an evening. As her lifestyle moves up a gear or two Katherine still can't quite believe her luck. Her looks are her fortune however, as she turns heads wherever she goes. But even the level-headed Katherine can't get her head around what a current client is willing to pay for her exclusive company and her exclusive services. She almost splutters - Let me get this straight. We're talking twenty-five thousand dollars, cash, for one evening.

And as she then waits in a local exclusive bar for her male client to appear, she bumps into a private detective called Jay Harper (the third main character). All three will see their paths cross again and again in the course of the novel. Katherine and Jay are both Brits so there's a common interest there, albeit a thin one, but what could possibly link these two rather world-weary but nevertheless street-savvy individuals to an innocent such as Rochat? The connection is apparent fairly early on but the cracking plot takes time to develop (which is a good thing in my book). It develops at a nice, steady simmer.

The whole feel of the book is that of a slick and rather classy thriller. The prose is very good indeed. And as the cathedral is at the heart of the story - God, religion, good evil, angels ... all have their place. Steele gives his readers many terrific lines. For example, The Bible has nothing to do with religion may just have some readers sit up straight, take note. Then there's smart one-liners such as Go to Google and ask God. The humour is sophisticated. The plot is intricate. The characters are interesting and three-dimensional. My particular favourite was the private eye, Jay. Basically, there's a secret agenda 'out there' and certain individuals are not safe in their beds at night. Yes, there was a passing similarity with Quasimodo as regards Marc but I think it's intentional on Steele's part. Overall, an intricate, engrossing tale which I thoroughly enjoyed. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Body of Lies by David Ignatius.

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