Title: Because I’m Watching by Christina Dodd
Virtue Falls Series Book Three
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
From this “master of the genre,” Christina Dodd, comes a white-knuckled suspense of this remarkable mesmerizing series (Library Journal starred review) set in the quaint–and deadly–coastal town of Virtue Falls…
She had survived, but she is still held captive…
Of her memories, her loneliness, her delusions. But are they truly delusions?
The survivor of a college dorm massacre, a woman accused of her lover’s murder, Madeline Hewitson is haunted by ghosts and tormented by a killer only she can see. At night, she works, writing and drawing the monster that slithers through her imagination, and living in fear of those moments when the doors of her mind unhinge and her nightmare lives in the daylight.
A seasoned military veteran, Jacob Denisov lives alone in his small, darkened home, sleepless, starving, and angry. Every day he lives with the guilt that comes from his own failures and the carnage that followed. When neighbor Madeline Hewitson drives her car through the front wall of his house, she breaks his house–and his life–wide open. Forced to view the world outside, Jacob watches Maddie, recognizes a kindred spirit and wonders what she fears more than herself. Has someone caught her in a twisted labyrinth of revenge and compassion, guilt and redemption, murder and madness?
When Maddie’s imaginary killer takes form, she fights, screaming her fear and defiance. But will she be strong enough to triumph, or is the killer she fears no more than a shadow, an illusion … that watches?
Told with Christina Dodd’s trademark twists and turns, BECAUSE I’M WATCHING is a tour-de-force thriller that will keep you guessing with every turn of the page.
From the attention grabbing first chapter until the novel’s final word, Because I’m Watching by Christina Dodd is a spellbinding mystery set in a small coastal town in Washington. While this newest release is the third installment in the Virtue Falls series, it can easily be read as a standalone.
Madeline “Maddie” Hewitson is the lone survivor of a murderous rampage that took the lives of her close friends and dorm mates only to find herself in the public eye after she is accused of murdering her fiancé. Needing a fresh start, she moves to the small enclave of Virtue Falls where she manages to fly under the radar until a series of unexplained events earns her the nickname of “Mad Maddie”. Terrified, sleep deprived and utterly haunted by strange occurrences, she meets her neighbor Jacob Denisov under inauspicious circumstances after she crashes her car into his front room.
Jacob is fighting a few demons of his own and while dismayed by the damage to his home, he is more upset that he survived the accident. Struggling with survivor’s guilt and severe PTSD after he and his team are captured and tortured, Jacob hates being exposed to his neighbors. Forced to deal with workman rebuilding his house, he slowly rejoins the world of the living and finds himself utterly charmed by his vivacious neighbor. After a series of crimes begin happening in their small neighborhood, suspicion falls on Maddie but Jacob has plenty of doubts about her involvement. But if Maddie is not responsible for what is going on, then who is?
No one in Virtue Falls is willing to give Maddie the benefit of the doubt. Despite having lived there unnoticed for quite some time, everyone is quick to believe she is crazy when she begins hallucinating and experiencing mishaps around her home. After numerous calls to the police who discover nothing untoward during their investigations, Maddie is dismissed as a crackpot who has a few loose screws. She keeps to herself and forces herself to stay awake until daylight in an attempt to avoid the terrors that haunt her nights. Still surprisingly upbeat and positive despite the tragedies in her life, Maddie easily deduces that Jacob is even more tortured than she is. Not one to shy away from uncomfortable discussions, she is completely honest with him about her past and Maddie essentially forces him out of his self-imposed isolation.
Jacob is guilt-ridden over what happened to the young people in his care and he is working up the courage to take his own life when Maddie crashes into his house and his life. Although he does not want to become involved with her or his neighbors, he cannot ignore what is happening around him. Forced to see what is going on in the neighborhood as his house is being repaired, Jacob becomes curious about what is going on with Maddie. Although still on self-destructive path, he finally opens up to her about the demons that haunt him. These two wounded souls help one another truly begin to heal, but is their fragile bond strong to survive what happens next?
In addition to the storylines with Jacob, Maddie and the mysterious happenings in their neighborhood, there is plenty of drama going on in the small town of Virtue Falls. Sheriff Kateri Kwinault is the midst of a heated campaign for the upcoming sheriff’s election. She also finds herself in the middle of an unexpected romance with a longtime friend and she is unnerved when her unresolved past with her father rears its ugly head. Cordelia Markham provides Kateri with some unsettling information about a series of troubling text messages but figuring out who is in danger is like finding a needle in a haystack. When the truth about what is happening with Maddie finally begins to emerge, will Kateri be able keep her out of harm’s way?
With a cast of quirky characters and a baffling mystery, Because I’m Watching is a suspense-laden addition to the Virtue Falls series. With numerous subplots and plenty of secondary characters, the story is a little busy but overall, it is easy to keep track of what is going on. An astute reader will have a fairly good idea about who is responsible for what is happening to Maddie and why but Christina Dodd manages to throw in a few unexpected plot twists late in the novel. The conclusion is certainly action-packed and most of the storylines are fully resolved. An entertaining installment that old and new fans will enjoy.