Nightwatcher

Author: Wilson, Charles
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery
Published: 1990
Setting: Mississippi

This novel is about the brutal rape and murder of Judith Salter a nurse at the state hospital for the mentally insane. Featuring – three escaped psychiatric inmates, suspicious police officers and a guilt stricken dad turned “detective”. Brandon Richards, the victim’s dad abandons his life and career in other to help bring justice to Judith’s killing. Is it a coincidence that these three inmates got out the same night of this tragic incidence? Evidence found on the murder scene has detectives suspecting either or all of the escaped inmates – or could there have been someone else? Judith’s ex husband, a person of questionable character becomes a suspect. Also “someone in the police force” could be killer. While grieving his daughter’s death, Richards is determined to leave no stone unturned investigating his daughter’s murder. Meanwhile, an inmate claims he might have witnessed the killing. How believable is an assertion made by a mentally ill patient?

What prompted me to read this book in the first place was the recommendation on the cover of the book given by John Grisham – an author I’m truly fond of. “Splendid! A lean tight compelling story that was over much too fast. I wanted more”. Another person described the book as “dark, scary, and truly menacing”. Regarding the last statement, I don’t find Nightwatcher that terrifying, neither does it read as spooky as the cover picture depicts.

It is rare that you find a complex plot presented in such a simple format. This is a very quick read. The author did not try to stretch the story with unnecessary details and rigmarole like you find in most mystery novels. Richard’s character very systematically obtains valuable tips and information that helps move the story rapidly. The author methodically builds up a compelling tempo while all the time leaving you guessing who could have committed this horrid act. The excitement lies in the process of walking the reader through layers of unveiling lies, deceptions, conspiracies, and cover ups by the people who were close to the victim. Gradually, shocking revelations are made of the victim’s past life which further complicates the plot. At this point, suspicions about who committed this crime becomes an open-ended question.

It is thrilling to watch as the story culminates in a surprise revelation of the murderer. This is a fun mystery/thriller read – great for the weekend. Fast readers could finish this book within a day.

If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you think…

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