Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Susan Dalian, Jay Aaseng
Published by HarperAudio on September 1, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Length: 8 hours, 30 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?
This is my first experience with this author, but it is also her first mystery / suspense/ thriller which is one of my favorite genres. When No One is Watching is creepy and a bit horrifying but I think it is because a lot of the story is realistic. Sadly, those with money or positions of power do some bad things. I felt so badly for the neighborhood.
We get two points of view. Syndey is a black woman living in the house where she grew up, in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Theo is a white man who just bought a house in this neighborhood with a woman he is dating.
The start of the story was difficult for a few reasons. The first was the bad things happening made me cringe. The idea this sort of thing is happening in any form is distressing. Then Sydney and Theo both have some problems; they are flawed characters. They are also a bit unreliable narrators and I always have some troubles with those.
Sydney and Theo did get themselves together and rally to help the neighborhood by the end. That’s where things got very wild and somewhat unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong – I am happy with what they did but the whole thing is messed up. Unfortunately, the divisions and racial tensions are out there and pretending they aren’t doesn’t change the fact they are.
These narrators were new to me. There was a female narrator for Syndey’s chapters and a male narrator for Theo’s chapters. I like that structure to the narration; it gives a more solid connection to the character especially when a lot of the story is their thought stream rather than actual dialogue. The narrators felt right for the characters. I enjoyed the performance at my usual 1.5x speed.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
This sounds intriguing! Although maybe not a light thriller read, since it seems the themes are more on the serious side.
yes. It is fiction but some of the truths are seriously sad. I never do well with man’s inhumanity to man. Dances with Wolves had me sobbing and upset for days. I’m older now and have seen more of it but I don’t like it any better.
I was curious about this novel, thanks for sharing your thoughts
I found it a little hard to read because I didn’t like how people were treated. But it’s a reality in our world these days. Not everyone is smart, or kind or unselfish.
I have this for the FraterfestRAT. I will be curious to see what I think.
I’ll look forward to your thoughts. Some things are horrible for sure and it’s creepy.
I have really enjoyed this author. Sounds like she did a good job in writing a mystery/thriller. What ppl can do with power is scary, it truly corrupts you if you let it happen.
This was a hard book to read with seeing bad things happen but it was a good book which I wanted to read.
Sounds like an interesting story. I do love the suspense/thriller genre too, but I like things to be believable. Sometimes far fetched things can work, though. Wonderful review, Anne!
Thank you! It’s a favorite genre but this had some different aspects I don’t read as often. I tend to read more law enforcement / private investigators and that sort of thing. An individual who has limited access to information and some issues is a less reliable sort of investigation. Plus it’s an uncomfortable thing with all the prejudice. It’s a great book though.
I really enjoy this author’s romance books, but I passed on this one b/c it’s not my jam. Sounds like it was a wise choice… I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. But sounds fascinating. Thanks!
I want to read some of her other books too but I started with this as it is one of my jams, sort of . It was hard to see some people treat other people that way.
Like commenter Jen, I enjoy Cole’s romances but was wary of this because many thrillers are too dark for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but I think I will continue to hold off, at least for now. In our current situation (societal, political, and biomedical), I find myself turning to books where I can be sure of a satisfying ending and at least a modicum of hope along the way.
Well I wouldn’t say it is extremely hopeful but the ending is good.