Review // When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

When No One Is Watching Book Cover When No One Is Watching
Alyssa Cole
Mystery Thriller & Suspense
William Morrow & Company
September 1, 2020
NetGalley/William Morrow & Company

Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

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?

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My latest review is for When No One Is Watching by author Alyssa Cole. I found Alyssa’s latest book via the Book Club Girl Facebook group through HarperCollins and instantly wanted to learn more. Not only did When No One Is Watching fall within a genre that I love to read, mystery, thriller and suspense, but I also found myself even more interested because of the synopsis. If you’ve read the synopsis, you’ll understand that When No One Is Watching is a mystery in the background, and more about the history and gentrification of a small historic neighborhood.

Having never read any of Alyssa Cole’s previous books, I decided to learn more about Alyssa and her current release. Since I chose to read this book as part of a book club, I hadn’t read any reviews about When No One Is Watching, so I decided to read a few reviews on Goodreads and found several mentioning the reading was pretty long before it actually got to the climax, and when it did get to the meat of the story it happened too quick. I was concerned about what I was reading in the reviews. Historically, books I’ve read that tend to be really long on the front end cause me to fizzle in my reading. I really find no enjoyment when I have to work to get to the whodunit and there really is no whodunit.

Even after reading several reviews noting the long front end of the reading, I decided to dive in because I made a commitment to myself for the book club along with a huge curiosity for the paranoia remark from the synopsis that piqued my interest. I’m glad I decided to read Alyssa’s latest release because I found a huge amount of enjoyment in reading her book. I was honestly very surprised to read how well this mystery story came together from a writer that has typically written romance novels.

The story flowed very well. From start to finish, I wanted to understand more; I wanted to understand about our character Sydney’s neighborhood and her new neighbor, Theo, that just kind of stumbled into her life; the growth that these two characters have with the neighborhood and with each other. This would have to be one of my first reads where I truly wanted to understand more about the story of the neighborhood and the people living within than simply understanding the mystery and getting to the whodunit part. For me, When No One Is Watching, is more about a good piece of written fiction and not so much about a good piece of written mystery. Does that make sense? 

Yes, there is a mystery, I just simply enjoyed the story getting to the mystery. I have seen some tags around social media using thriller or horror and personally, I don’t feel that this read fits within either. 

As I mentioned earlier, the story flows extremely well. From start to finish there is a consistent build in the writing that doesn’t jump around with a lot of flashbacks or flash-forwards, so there is no confusion understanding where the story is going. Each character has a purpose, even those characters that have a small part, they all have a purpose that culminates in the ending, so no character is left behind.

I was knocked over by the momentum of an intense psychological thriller that doesn’t let go until the final page. This is a terrific read.

Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author

Alyssa Cole is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of romance (historical, contemporary, and sci-fi) and thrillers. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.

She is represented by Lucienne Diver at The Knight Agency.

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