Book review: Watching From the Dark by Gytha Lodge

Book review: Watching From the Dark by Gytha Lodge

reviewed by Chris Richards.

I like this book; I think if you like police procedurals, whodunnits and murder mysteries of the digestible, moreish ilk then you’ll like it too. It opens with a chilly, neurotic prologue. It reads as a fly on the wall account of the murder report. But we’re not on a wall. We sit on the shoulder of the murdered woman’s self-styled boyfriend and he’s watching via a Skype call.

Scant and tantalising information drip from each chapter, switching the timeline from the present investigation with DCI Jonah Sheens working for Hampshire Constabulary based in Southampton, to flashes of moments within the last 20 months of the victim, Zoe’s, life.

This is the second novel to feature this detective team; Gytha Lodge’s first and bestselling book She Lies In Wait from March 2019, introduces Juliette Hanson as a rookie member of Jonah’s tight-knit team. This time, along with the investigation of Zoe’s murder, there is further insight into the team’s personal lives. Jonah is hopeless with love, Ben Lightman is enigmatic and attracts the eyes of most people including, eventually, sort of, Juliette Hanson. Domnall O’Malley is the light relief, with a past. All are plausible detective archetypes and while they further the investigation and the main plot they also satisfy as humans with depth and a life beyond the pages.

At the risk of sounding like a school book report, I noticed all the character names are either synonyms or antonyms. Interpretable and, when looked at in isolation, a little heavy handed but as a device, a fun little wave to those who recognise them. Zoe (the victim) means ‘Life’… see what I mean? These direct interpretations cannot necessarily be relied upon as faithful narrative which is a typical feature of this genre.

I’m going to stop trying to be clever now and just tell you that this book would be perfect for the long Easter weekend. The story arcs are straightforward enough to entertain without requiring a lot of intellectual exhaustion, but also keep you guessing. It is the Danish pastry of books. Delicious, gone too quickly but too much wouldn’t do you good anyway.

There is a third instalment on the way so be prepared for impatience and longing, until it is available in 2021, so the internet tells me.

Published by Michael Joseph an imprint of Penguin Books. Out now and available to buy from bookshops including, October Books in Portswood Road, Southampton.