Source: Review copy
Publication: 11 June 2020 from Simon and Schuster
ONLY ONE PERSON CAN SAVE YOU. AND HE WANTS YOU DEAD.
The LAPD find a man dead at home. Nothing suggests foul-play but elements of the victim’s house show that something is deeply wrong.
Meanwhile, in Glasgow, DI Rachel Narey is searching for a missing young woman – and the man she suspects of killing her.
When a feed broadcasting the slow and painful death of a final victim is discovered, these two cases become linked.
There’s no way to identify him.
No way to find him
No way to save him.
Not without the cooperation of a killer.
And the only way he will cooperate is if he can watch him die.
Oh my! This one is a doozie. I mean that in a good way. Watch Him Die puts a capital N into Noir. A high concept thriller that really ticks all of my many boxes when it comes to enjoyment of a crime thriller.
Set in both Glasgow and Los Angeles, Robertson has come up with a concept that makes this really work in a way I hadn’t thought possible. D.I. Rachel Narey is looking for Eloise Grey, though she worries it’s a body she’s looking for, so she’s also looking for Grey’s former boyfriend, a man well acquainted with violent confrontations, Tam Harkness.
Los Feliz cops Mario Kovacic and Carlos Rojo make a routine visit to a house where Ethan Garland has died, believed to be from natural causes. What they find when inspecting the house chills them to the bone and they bring in Detectives Bryan Salgado and Cally O’Neill. It soon becomes clear that they have chanced upon a deadly game…one that will end with someone else dying in front of their eyes if they can’t stop the killer and find the victim in time.
Robertson has come up with a serial killer thriller that is captivating and spine-chilling. Neatly tying in with the theme of one of his earlier books, Murderabilia, Robertson increases the depth of his Noir writing by bringing in to the investigation one of the most notorious L.A. murders of all time.
Though set on both sides of the Atlantic, the dominant story is Rachel Narey’s. When the L.A. cops discover that their dead man has been up to seriously nefarious wrongdoing and they find the murderabilia items, they also discover that the dead man has been researching individuals in Scotland; and that’s when Rachel Narey is read into their investigation.
The L.A. Detectives make for a good contrast with the dogged and intrepid Narey and their personalities are likeable, making the reader feel comfortable with them even as they are uncovering a lot of gruesome information.
Robertson gives the reader a countdown to death and ratchets up the tension as Rachel Narey interrogates the clues for anything that can bring her closer to finding a warped serial killer whose pleasure comes from watching his victims die. Her interactions with an unnamed, faceless killer are riveting and the insight that Robertson offers into the mind of a psychopathic killer is a little worrying, but I’m just going to put that down to good research and striving for and succeeding in getting, authenticity.
Cleverly combining serial murders with a twisty plot and dark and somewhat macabre humour, Robertson pulls the whole book together with flair and panache to make a seriously good multiple murder mystery playing out against a timer where the sand is rapidly running out.
Verdict: With pace and style, Robertson provides an intelligent and nail biting chase full of excellent, snappy dialogue, great characters and above all, a brilliant and original premise. A must read from me.
A former journalist, Craig Robertson had a 20-year career with a Scottish Sunday newspaper before becoming a full-time author. He interviewed three Prime Ministers, reported on major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He was pilloried on breakfast television, beat Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India.He now shares his time between Scotland and California and can usually be found on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic.