Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
I quickly became a Bodenham fan after last year’s release, Crime and Justice, and I was eagerly anticipating this book – what an unforgettable ride! Filled with lies, deceit and characters you’ll love and despise with all your being, Watch For Me is a psychological thriller at its very finest. I’m so happy to be opening my book club’s blog tour today! Make sure you check out all these other reviews from these brilliant book bloggers!
About the book
Tom Harper, a Vancouver Island realtor, has the client from hell, Ali Page, a beautiful and intelligent young lawyer returning from the mainland to take up a job with an island law firm. Trouble is there’s always something wrong with the properties Tom shows her, always a reason not to commit. Finally, after they find a condo she likes, he receives a text thanking him for his help. Ali signs off: I’m sad we won’t get to spend more time together. Often cold and withdrawn throughout their weeks of searching, Ali’s words seem strangely out of character.
The texts keep coming, increasingly incoherent and disturbing. What does Ali mean by: we have a special connection, and why on earth would she say: I’ll be here for you when you leave your wife? Happily married, Tom cannot understand why a woman not much older than his teenage daughter is suddenly obsessed with him. When he rejects Ali’s unsolicited advances, Tom soon discovers the sinister depths to which a delusional mind will sink to obtain what it wants. Isolated and seemingly abandoned by the police and legal system, this is the story of one man’s struggle to rescue his marriage, his family, and his sanity in the face of overwhelming psychological and physical torment.
If you’re looking for a book that grips every part of you in the first chapter, Martin Bodenham is the guy to provide the goods. My curiosity hit the roof after chapter one of this book, and the desperation I felt to find out more about one very strange character was almost too much to handle! Tom is a realtor on Vancouver Island, and has the task of finding the ideal property for up and coming lawyer, Ali. She’s the daughter of a couple of friends, so Tom feels he owes it to them to help her out, no matter how much the properties may not be to her taste. However, after finding a property and securing the deal, quiet, reserved Ali starts to act out of character, sending Tom strange, inappropriate messages and making me suspect something completely thrilling and mysterious is on the cards…
I was so intrigued by Ali’s character and had all sorts of questions running through my mind about why her personality seems to have changed and the reason behind what she’s doing. I had a feeling that Tom would have to watch his step, and I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of all this! The author’s description was once again flawless, just as it had been in his previous book. It’s so easy to imagine yourself in any one place or at any time, and the suspense was so perfectly built with each chapter that passed. The book is written from Tom’s point of view in first person, and Ali’s in third person, and this change was really cleverly written. Even by the end of the first few chapters, I was carrying my Kindle around the house as I just couldn’t stop reading! I do love it when a book has this affect, but you sure as hell don’t get anything done… 🙃
“What is it they say? No good deed goes unpunished? I soon discovered what that meant.”
Ali continues her harassment, and I began to feel so sorry for Tom knowing just how much her actions were affecting his family life. It was frustrating seeing his friends and even the local police department not taking these accusations seriously; just what did she want to achieve, and what exactly did Tom have to do to make everyone believe him? What was her motive, why was she saying so many things that simply weren’t true? I tried to put myself in Tom’s shoes and instantly felt the stress and the pain, as well as the huge weight that he has to carry on his shoulders. The author has once again made it so easy for a reader to feel every single emotion in Tom and to be on his side as he tries to navigate around everything that’s going on in his life. This whole mess was certainly something you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. No matter how much I despised Ali at this point, I was so desperate to learn more about her and what her game was – the book was already at such an exciting place!
I loved how seamlessly we see what Ali is up to behind the scenes; the author tells us what Tom is going through and experiencing, as well as the build up to these moments from Ali’s point of view. It’s something difficult to explain in text, but something that works so brilliantly when you read! Everything seems to fit together perfectly, and the author builds up tension with such urgency in parts; why was Ali being so sneaky?! What on earth is she up to and why is she trying to make Tom’s life a misery? I was fully hooked at this point, but I knew the author would have a few more tricks up his sleeve – how can things be so addictive so early on?! There were so many scenes which perfectly built up tension, scenes which only increased the long list of questions building up in my mind and quite frankly, some of the best scenes I’ve ever read in a book of this genre. When Tom is introduced to Karen Collins, a lawyer who seems to actually want to help, he begins to feel at ease. Could she be the answer to fixing all this once and for all?
The panic that the author effortlessly injects into the reader is unbearably tense at times, and I absolutely loved the feeling of terror I got from Tom’s stalker; even though she wasn’t showing any sign of violence, the psychological effects were just so chilling! Brett Mahoney is introduced and what a terrifying character he was… We only learn some specific details about this character at this point; that he teaches self-defense and that he was jailed for snapping a man’s neck, but I was instantly alert – just how involved would this potentially dangerous character be in Tom’s or Ali’s life? Whose side would he be on? It isn’t long before we get some answers, and the thought of what was to come made me a little nervous. Were things about to get violent? Was Tom and his family safe? The lies from Ali continue to spiral out of control, and this book was slowly changing before our very eyes. I only became more excited for what was to come!
There are multiple interrogation scenes within the book which are, once again, perfectly written. I love watching details of a case unfold in a crime novel, and the suspenseful mystery elements to Ali’s character and her lies combined to create the ultimate reading experience. I was frustrated with just how much she was getting away with, how she seemed to be able to lie her way through any situation and get people on her side. This character has been developed with such attention to detail, and I was incredibly impressed with how the author manages to make me feel so strongly about it all! Things continue to escalate, and the lengths she goes to in order to show Tom in a bad light were just extraordinary. I hated her more and more as time went on, and I even felt the anger inside me rise up as Ali sends a letter to Tom’s wife about all these lies. This author is seriously one of the best writers I’ve ever come across!
“The rage that had been building up inside me all night felt like a pressure cooker about to explode. I hadn’t invited that woman into my life. She’d waded in and blown it apart.”
Tom’s relationship with his wife goes south yet again and his friendship with Ali’s parents is instantly broken as Ali eventually feeds her lies to them too. As a lawyer, it seemed she knew exactly how to worm her way out of tight situations and know what to say whenever anyone fired questions at her about her accusations. I completely flew through the middle of the book; the author manages to grip you in such a way that makes it impossible to think of anything else. The attention to detail continued to blow me away and it felt so very easy to get sucked into Tom’s thoughts and feelings. I had no idea how he’d be able to untangle the web of lies Ali had created, but I became increasingly concerned for not only his safety, but also his sanity. How much more could one person take? The mental impact of Ali’s actions were completely draining for Tom.
With no one left to turn to and feeling like he couldn’t rely on anyone, Tom began to mull over every event, any potential trigger that could have caused all this to spiral out of control. Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more shocked with Ali’s actions, the author manages to top it yet again! We can see how Tom’s thoughts change from feeling terror and worry after Ali’s accusations, to wanting to do anything in his power to keep her away from him and his family. I wondered if he’d be willing to take matters into his own hands, whether he’d flee and never look back or if he’d be jailed for things he’d never done. There were so many possibilities here and the author has really pulled out all the stops to make readers think about a whole range of different conclusions for this story. Things were completely unpredictable and I couldn’t wait to see the final path the author chose.
I became mesmerised by such heart-stopping scenes, scenes that were described with such intensity that made me question everything once again. The effects of all the lies and accusations drives Tom to thoughts of suicide; the feeling that he would never be able to put things right again was just too much to bear. It was a difficult time for us readers too, and I’d grown so attached to Tom’s character by this point that I wanted more than anything for the truth to come out. I was thinking about Tom’s life even when I wasn’t reading the book, and thinking of ways he could put his life back together again. He needed help; surely there was someone out there that could help him? Tom’s sister, Bekah was an absolute gem throughout the whole book. She was always on his side, even when she gets brought into Ali’s madness. I just hoped that they’d find a way to get through this together.
When we think there is no way out for Tom, in comes a very significant character, almost like a guardian angel for him. John Templeton bears some very interesting news, something that could potentially help Tom to regain his life and get justice. I really liked how the author included this little glimmer of hope, but there was one little action Ali took previously that could still cause everything to come crashing down. With just how clever the author has been throughout the entire book, I knew the ending would be explosive and create that intense, memorable finale that seems to be one of the many things this author is known for. The main question on my mind stayed the same throughout the end; would Tom ever get justice? Whatever the outcome for him, it was something I genuinely could not predict. I loved the suspense!
“What was the point of carrying on? My life couldn’t get any worse. But then it did.”
The more Tom understands what’s coming his way after learning about one last blow from Ali’s malicious ways, he mulls over his life and remembers some of the best times with his wife and daughter. Knowing what is going through Tom’s mind is so upsetting, and the author has written these scenes so delicately and in a way that makes you think about so much. The build up to the ending of the book was flawless; we can really feel Tom’s sense of acceptance but also just how low and scared he feels. The power in the author’s words was just mind blowing! When we finally reach that crucial moment in the book that I’d been waiting for, I was seriously impressed with the delivery and how everything perfectly fitted together! My jaw dropped and I felt like giving this author a round of applause; absolutely epic story-telling, and certainly story-telling at it’s very best. If you’re going to make up allegations, every single detail matters…
The book is rounded off incredibly well, just as I’d hoped it would be, and by the end, I became desperate for another book by this author. We learn of the outcome for both Tom and Ali, as well as relationships between family, friends and colleagues. However, getting to this point involves some unexpected surprises, both good and bad, that you really must experience yourself first hand. If you’ve never read any books by this author, this is certainly a good one to start with! The intensity of the ending is quite unlike anything I’ve read before, and it left me completely desperate for more. I had to sit in silence for a long while to take in all the action and suspense from the whole book – an absolutely unforgettable experience! This book deserves more than five stars; a truly gripping and unforgettable psychological thriller.
Watch For Me has very quickly made my list of all-time favourite books; the author’s exceptional talent for a gripping story has once again left me speechless. Not only is this story addictive to read and engaging to its core, but it’s also incredibly motivating for any budding crime/thriller writer! If the idea of a psychological thriller about a female stalker sounds intriguing, I’m certain this will become one of your favourite reads of the year. Dark, twisted and intensely creepy in all the best ways! I’ve been so invested in this book, but I wasn’t surprised in the slightest; Bodenham has perfected this book just as much as his previous! An absolute masterpiece.
Thanks so so much to the author, Martin Bodenham, for my copy of the book to read and review as part of our blog tour! You can purchase your own copy of Watch For Me on Amazon now, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates!