The Watching, a Must-Read Legal Thriller by Michael Donovan

The Bottom Line: Chock full of psychological suspense, and gloriously infused with dread throughout, The Watching is a must for legal thriller fans.

London criminal defense attorney Kate Walker has plenty of reasons to be paranoid. Her clientele is packed with repeat offenders who, despite Kate’s astonishingly good track record, are rarely grateful for her efforts. In some cases, they are openly menacing.

As Walker’s roster of “crazy clients” grows, she muses that her office might need a security door. But it’s soon clear that home security is the problem. Late night calls, an inexplicably broken light bulb, a thermostat set out of her normal range, a bed that looks like someone has been in it.

Does she have a stalker, or is she simply imagining it all?

Author Michael Donovan’s The Watching is more than just a legal thriller. While Donovan includes just enough legal maneuvering and strategy to please hardcore legal thriller fans, he has created an effective psychological suspense narrative that consistently ratchets up tension until the book’s ultimate climax. During each stroll through her Maida Vale neighborhood and even a trip to the train station, readers will find themselves examining each potential suspect. Even Walker isn’t always sure what is real or imagined. When a client tells her he wants a not-guilty verdict and says, “If this goes south it’s on you,” she asks him whether the statement was intended as a threat.

In Donovan’s capable hands, even a trip to the grocery store is chilling (“The carton was swapped in her shopping trolley. She drops it into her bin and works frantically through the rest of her shopping and is entirely unsurprised to find another substitution. Three tins of evaporated milk have miraculously changed to the sugar-filled condensed crap”). In the hands of a narrator who may or may not be reliable, The Watching is utterly packed with clues and red herrings. For many thriller fans, one read may not be enough. Highly recommended.

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