Book review: Watch Over Me by Jane Renshaw

Watch over me by Jane Renshaw book reviewI don’t know about you, but I love me a good psychological thriller. What makes the characters tick, the way they set up and plot crimes, their motivations and fears and hopes. All of it makes for a very interesting – and dare I say thrilling – read.

Watch Over Me: Book blurb

Flora always dreamed of the day she’d become a mother. But some dreams turn into nightmares.

Flora and Neil are happily married, but they can’t have children so decide to adopt. And when Flora meets little Beckie it’s love at first sight. Deep in her heart, she knows they’re meant for each other, destined to be mother and daughter.

When Flora officially becomes Beckie’s mum, it’s like a part of her that’s always been missing is finally in place. She is complete, every day filled with purpose and joy.

There’s only one problem. Beckie was taken from her birth family, the Johnsons, because they have a history of violence and criminal behaviour and so are judged to be unfit to care for a child.

But the Johnsons don’t agree. As far as they’re concerned, Flora has stolen their little girl and they are determined to get her back. They’re very smart, utterly ruthless – and they have a plan. One that will turn Flora’s life into a living hell and push her to the very edge of insanity.

Watch Over Me: My review

And that’s a brilliant set up for a psychological thriller. One that looks at a gamut of human emotions – love and longing; dealing with loss and injustice; and the complexity of familial bonds.

Saskia Mair is a social worker with the Glasgow City Council, evaluating cases that come in for child services. She is the caseworker in charge of the Becki Johnson case.

Two-and-a-half year old Becki is the daughter of Shanon-Rose Johnson, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. When Shanon-Rose is charged with murder, Becki is sent to live with her grandparents.

But when Mair goes to check that she has settled in well with the Johnsons, she finds fresh bruises and scratches on little Becki and the Johnson family home in a complete mess. Deeming Becki a child at risk, the Glasgow City Council decides a closed adoption would be in her best interests.

The Johnson’s do not agree, though. They believe that their “wee Becki” has been stolen from them, and are determined to find her and get her back by any means necessary.

What unfolds is a battle of wits between the seemingly stupid Johnson family {murderers, drug dealers, school drop-outs} and Becki’s new family {educated, rich, people of means}.

And as it unfolds, it raises a number of questions: Is it fair to remove a young child from her kin? Does poverty, a history of violence and aggressive behaviour make the love a grandma has for her granddaughter any less? To what lengths would one go to protect those they love? Is the lack of education any indicator of a lack of intelligence?

As Lorraine Johnson, Becki’s grandmother, determinedly tracks her down, to what lengths will she go to get her wee Becki back?

It took me some time to get used to the Scottish slang {the glossary at the back of the book was helpful!}, but that was the only stumbling block I found in the novel.

The story is gripping, even when I thought I had figured out some of what was going on {I didn’t – the twist was unexpected}. The pacing of the story, the character sketches, and the questions it raised made this a very compelling read. Highly recommended!

Sounds like a book you may enjoy?

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Posted in Book reviews.

13 Comments

  1. What a wonderful, thoughtful review! I’m so pleased that you picked up on one of the issues I was exploring – the way in which people are automatically judged by others on the basis of certain things… Thank you very much for including my book in your very interesting blog.

    • I really liked that aspect of the book! And it certainly presents food for thought. Most of us have been guilty of judging others on the basis of the way they look or speak or their socio-economic class and numerous other things. By doing that, we often overlook their many positive traits.

  2. The book sounds interesting but I’ve been reading so many psychological thrillers these days, I’d like to take a break. Besides books about children I always find disturbing surrounded as I am by my little ones….. But I’m sure this would be a book worth reading when I’m on holiday and far away from them.

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