The People Watcher
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
Mercy Lake is the People Watcher. She also calls herself one of the Night People as she can no longer stand daylight. She spends her nights spying on people who she thinks need help and then she carries out small acts of kindness to make their lives a little easier. She doesn’t always know their names so she gives them nicknames such as Lovesick Lorna, Lost Travis, Cold Hand Carl and William the Navigator.
Her favorite person to watch is a little boy called Ollie Rafferty. She likes to appear dressed as a fairy at his bedroom window with gifts of discarded classic toys that she has found and then repaired. She also likes to watch his parents Simon and Nadia.
Mercy wasn’t always Mercy Lake. She was once a normal, healthy young woman until a traumatic event not only took away her family, but left her body mangled and her brain damaged and misfiring. As her poor balance often causes her to tip over and she’s no longer able to drive, she gets around on a big red tricycle that keeps her stable. That’s all she needs in the small town of Cranner’s Ford ay night, that and her binoculars.
One night when some local boys are giving her grief, she meets Louis. He lives in a campervan and told her he was just passing through town, but he becomes intrigued with her and what she does at night and starts following her around. When she becomes close to him, she lets him help her in her quest to help those who need it. But then he starts to take it one step further, meting out small punishments to those who are hurting Mercy’s favourite people, until the night he goes too far, much to Mercy’s alarm.
Sam Lloyd has written a cracker of a slow burn thriller. Mercy is one of the most original and intriguing characters invented and Louis is the classic handsome and charismatic charmer with a dark underside, who has us gripping our seats in fear of what he’s going to do next. Mercy’s backstory of how she came to be so injured and all that happened to her afterwards is heartbreaking and is slowly revealed through flashbacks, so that we gradually come to understand why watching Ollie and his parents is so important to her. The tension really ramps up as situations get out of control and erupt into violence. The pacing is perfect and there are some great plot twists, as well as occasional humour to temper the shocks. Definitely a page turner that insists on being read in great bites.
Thanks to Random House via Netgalley for a copy to read.