Monday, March 21, 2016

The Watcher in the Wall - Owen Laukkanen

I've been a fan of Owen Laukkanen right from the beginning, with the release of his debut novel, The Professionals. His newest book, The Watcher in the Wall, is the fifth in the Stevens and Windermere series. (It can be read as a stand-alone)

Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are partners on a joint FBI and BCI task force. It's Stevens' daughter who brings their latest case to them. A classmate has committed suicide. Tragic enough on its own, but the death is being shown on the internet. The boy was a member of an online suicide forum, where members share their thoughts, tips and ------ encouragement.

A bit of a difficult and dark premise, but one that is unfortunately real. The antagonist that Laukkanen has created is truly despicable and twisted. And just like the suicide forums, not that far from the truth. Who are you really talking to in chat room? And how do you know that photo is real? Ugly, chilling and oh, so very creepy.

The relationship between the two lead characters has evolved and changed over the course of the books. They have very different personalities which bring a different view, attitude and approach to their cases. The Watcher in the Wall sees Windermere take the lead - and some risky moves. This case has become personal for her, triggering memories from her teenage years. (But I have to admit, the cooler headed Stevens remains my favourite)

The action doesn't stop and the pacing is frantic as the pair race to save another teen before they make a terrible, final decision. As I read the final run up to the ending, I was envisioning an action film. (and it would make a good one) But, some of the final plot situations do ask the reader to suspend disbelief. So, I did. Here's an excerpt of The Watcher in the Wall.

The author's notes at the end were compelling:

"The Watcher in the Wall is inspired very loosely by real-life incident, but it's also a fairly personal book for me. I've dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts since I was a teenager, and it's only now, two decades later that I've started taking real steps to deal with it. In some ways, this book is a response to the dark stuff......Please don't suffer in silence. There's no shame in speaking up and I promise, you're not alone."

There's a nice little cover blurb from John Sandford..."Laukkanen is slam-bang brilliant." And yes, if you like Sandford's books, you're going to like Laukkanen. You can connect with Owen Laukkanen on his website and find him on Facebook.

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