THE WATCHER IN THE WALL by Owen Laukkanen
Kirkus Star

THE WATCHER IN THE WALL

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A fast-paced thriller in which Windermere and Stevens (The Stolen Ones, 2015, etc.) must stop the Internet predator who’s persuading teens to commit suicide.

FBI agent Carla Windermere partners again with Special Agent Kirk Stevens of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Adrian Miller, a high school classmate of Stevens’ daughter, commits suicide, and soon both agents are searching for possible connections with other suicides. Someone is putting the kids up to it, and readers soon see who. “It started with the hole in the wall” for 15-year-old Randall Gruber, who spied on his stepsister, Sarah, in their double-wide trailer and “resented that she was so happy.” Stepdad Earl terrorized Randall, who found a way to secretly goad Sarah into committing suicide, which he watched with great pleasure through the hole. Meanwhile, the agents discover that someone is targeting alienated teenagers on the online Death Wish forum and grooming them for self-destruction. He tells them that he's fed up with life, too, and says they should kill themselves together. But first he has to watch them do it, via a webcam: "I need to watch you or I won't have the guts to do it myself." It's Gruber, of course, though the agents don't know it yet; after the kids commit suicide, he sells the videos. Windermere and Stevens set up a fake profile to lure the predator and rescue the teens. They’re relentless, especially Windermere, who barely contains her fury. She even browbeats a judge into admitting the issue is criminal activity and not free speech. And when Gruber thinks he has the best of Windermere, she keeps coming at him—“The bitch just wouldn’t take a hint.” No indeed, and that’s why her colleagues call her Supercop and why she's such a wonderful series character. Either she or the perp is going down, and it damned well won’t be her. She’s African-American, by the way, but that factors little into the series so far.

A gut-wrenching tale filled with empathy for alienated teens. This may be the best yet in a first-rate series.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-399-17454-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016




BEST MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS OF 2016:

FictionYOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abbott
by Megan Abbott
MysteryFALL FROM GRACE by Tim Weaver
by Tim Weaver
MysteryFIELDS WHERE THEY LAY by Timothy Hallinan
by Timothy Hallinan
FictionTHE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by Steve Hamilton
by Steve Hamilton

MORE BY OWEN LAUKKANEN

FictionTHE STOLEN ONES by Owen Laukkanen
by Owen Laukkanen
FictionKILL FEE by Owen Laukkanen
by Owen Laukkanen
FictionCRIMINAL ENTERPRISE by Owen Laukkanen
by Owen Laukkanen

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

MysteryUNRAVELED by Reavis Z. Wortham
by Reavis Z. Wortham
FictionCHILDREN OF WRATH by Paul Grossman
by Paul Grossman
MysteryASYLUM CITY by Liad Shoham
by Liad Shoham