Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Watchers

The Watchers by Jon Steele

Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Thriller
Pages: Hardcover, 592pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0399158742
ISBN: 039915874X

(Received for an honest review from Blue Rider Press)

Jon Steele on the WEB: Webpage, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: The Watchers (2012), Angel City (coming 2012)
Excerpt from The Watchers


Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now...

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives in a world of shadows and "beforetimes" and imaginary beings.

Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.

Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he's offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what's left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.


Three unlikely heroes, an ancient book, and a long buried secret are brought to light in Jon Steele's first book, The Watchers. The Watchers is a book that oozes atmosphere and historic reference while engaging the reader and captivating their interest. Steele's use of setting and mood is excellent and his plot is multi-layered and complex. At over 500 pages it isn't a book for the faint of heart, but readers who expect the unexpected in their favorite novels will love it!

A lot of things generally work together to create a well written book. Each genre has its own set of rules and expectations. Authors look at many kinds of factors when deciding on settings and characteristics of the people in their books. Once in awhile the stars aline and an author strikes a perfect balance between what the readers want and the story he or she was meant to write. Those books are the ones that stick with you after you read them. Those are the books that mean something to you. It might be because of a specific character or because of a certain scene. Regardless those books make a lasting impression. The Watchers is just such a book.

When I say it's not for the faint of heart I mean a combination of things. It's a little on the long side, for readers who are used to 300 pages or less and many won't tackle it because of that. Don't let that stop you! This is a book that starts out a little slow, but the build-up is amazing. Steele doesn't just tell the reader what's happening or how a person is, he shows readers through the actions of the character, which make take a little longer, but gives a great pay off. It makes the characters seem more real and more authentic. There is a little violence here and there in this book, but I think that kind of tension is necessary and has many benefits. It gives the plot a sense of urgency that propels it toward the climax of the story.

I loved the characters in this book for several reasons. The were unexpected and different from what a might expect for the heroes and heroines. Marc is innocent and looks at the world in a totally different way than most heroes. He isn't looking for gratification or power or even prestige. He only wants to protect a sacred and quiet place, to continue the legacy of solitude the cathedral personifies. He may be a little slow about some things, but readers will quickly figure out just how wise he is.

Katherine is a call girl. Certain not typical heroine materiel. She finds herself in the middle of something she never saw coming. Her career as a high priced escort comes at a much higher cost than she is expecting. I liked her sass and her devil may care attitude, but also the vulnerability that lies beneath that facade of strength. 

Jay isn't hero materiel either. He doesn't know who he is, but he obviously is a hard drinker and has aspirations of grandeur.  His no nonsense attitude was perfect for a PI on a mission to find out whether Olympic athletes are part of a doping scandal. He has amnesia and he doesn't really seem to know where to go from here. But he stumbles across a book that changes everything. This hodge podge cast would not have any reason to interact, yet the come together in such a way that is explosive in this book. I loved the way Steele drew them toward the cathedral for different reasons and let that be the center piece of the book.

To say the setting of Lusiane Switzerland was good is an understatement. It is obvious that Steele is very familiar with the town and it's customs and people. His descriptions are breath taking in some areas and leave little out. I loved the haunted kind of eerie feeling he evokes throughout this book, by using a holy relic and the supernatural to bring about where he wanted this book to go. I loved it... and if you give it a chance, I know you will too. It's long and it's riveting... the perfect combination!

The Watchers is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Jon Steele worked as an award-winning cameraman for twenty-two years, traveling and working through more than seventy countries across six continents for Independent Television News of London.  While based in Moscow and Jerusalem, Steele wrote War Junkie, a gut-wrenching memoir covering a year in the life of a news cameraman.  The book was published in 2002 and is today recognized as a cult classic of war reportage.  In 2003, in Baghdad on the eve of the Iraq War, Steele became disillusioned with television news, put his camera on the ground and quit.

THE WATCHERS is Steele’s first novel. He now lives in Switzerland.