WATCHING YOU by Michael Robotham

watchingyouWATCHING YOU
Michael Robotham
Mulholland Books

Robotham’s continuing characters – retired cop Vincent Ruiz, and psychiatrist Joe O’Loughlin – cooperate as they have in previous books. O’Loughlin has met a young woman as she waited on him in a coffee shop. Her husband and father of her young son has disappeared. Marnie finds herself stuck in a nightmarish limbo, unable to access his bank accounts, cancel automatic bill payments, collect on a life insurance policy, and pursued by a local crime boss seeking repayment of a large gambling debt. Everyone she consults for help only repeats that British law requires seven years with no contact before a death certificate can be issued without the evidence of a body.

So Marnie turns to work as an escort as a way to get some cash to support her two children, and to stall enforcement of the gambling debt. The reader is very uneasy at this point, since the first few chapters of the book portray Marnie as likeable, and the reader hopes she will succeed. The dark world of the escort trade does not seem a place designed to help her work her way out of her troubles.

And more trouble arrives – a policeman comes to her door, to question her in the death of her escort driver. Although Marnie claims to have no knowledge of how the man died, enough details seem credible to the investigating officer that the pressure of his recurring presence only adds to Marnie’s distress.

Robotham presents alternating chapters published in italics, which begin to make it clear that someone is watching Marnie, with an obsessive intent to manipulate and control her. But who? And why? Not all questions about Marnie and her past will be easily resolved, and readers are in for a tense, absorbing experience.