St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0312595692
June 18, 2013, 352 pages
Dr. Nadine Lavoie is a psychiatrist, making her living helping people.
But she could use a little help in her own life.
After the death of her husband, she has moved back to the city of Victoria, B.C., working at a psychiatric hospital, supposedly starting a new phase in her life. But her real reason is so that she can search the streets of the city by night, looking for her daughter Lisa, a drug addict she believes is living on the streets. That is not the only issue she is dealing with. Her own claustrophobia, something she has dealt with for many years is starting to interfere with her daily life again. Over the years she has tried to get to the root cause of it, and the recover the missing memories from her childhood, where she thinks the cause may lay.
When a young woman, Heather Simeon, is admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt, Nadine is in her element. But as she interviews the woman, a few connections to her own life and her own troubling childhood start to arise. Until recently Heather and her husband had lived at the River of Life spiritual Center, run by a man whose name that brings chills to Nadine when she hears it.
When she was a child, her mother, a woman with her with her own substance abuse issues, took Nadine and her older brother away from their violent father to live in a commune. Peace and love...and a lot of wacky weed and some suspicious goings on. The more Nadine is drawn back into looking at her childhood, the more the memories start to come back. And the more the memories come back, the more questions she starts to ask, questions that some people do not want anyone asking. None more than Aaron Quinn, the groups leader back then and the leader still today, the leader of what is now a seemingly very successful and very wealthy organization with communes all over the world.
But Nadine must learn the truth, for herself, for those she loves...and ultimately to save her daughter.
This is Stevens third book, and if you have read them, you might remember that Dr. Lavoie has appeared in them all, granted in a smaller role. This time she is front and center. And while she is a good character, I must say she is not as great as Annie O'Sullivan, her patient and the central charter in Stevens first book, Still Missing. Wow, that was a very, very good book, with an ending I still remember although I read it years ago. A hard act for Stevens to follow, although this book does a pretty good job. Maybe Nadine is not quite as good because she is so competent, she has dealt with her past so well, so she is not quite as interesting. But on the other hand it is nice to read a thriller where the 'victim' is a smart, successful, middle aged woman, able to handle things pretty darn well by herself.
The plot moves along at a good pace, each revelation, each connection coming together in a believable way. As with all her books so far it is set in British Columbia, which I enjoy. There can be something more than a little unsettling about those towering forests. The ending might not have delivered as I hoped it would, as Still Missing did, and that was perhaps my only disappointment with the book. I was hoping for a Big Bang and it just sort of fizzled.
But still, Always Watching is quite a good book, one I would recommend.
Maybe not my favorite. Yes, that would be Still Missing and if you have not read that one, you really should! Each book is free standing, so that is not the issue. It is just a great book. And then you can stop on back and read this one as well.
My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.