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Watching You by Arne Dahl translated by Neil Smith

July 12, 2017


At each abandoned crime scene there’s a hidden clue: a tiny metal cog, almost invisible to the naked eye. Someone is sending Detective Sam Berger a message, someone who knows that only he will understand the cryptic trail.


When another teenaged girl disappears without trace, Sam must convince his superiors that they’re dealing with a serial killer. As the police continue the hunt to find the latest victim, Sam is forced to unearth long-buried personal demons. He has no choice if he is to understand the killer’s darkly personal message before time runs out.


Arne Dahl is a king of crime writing. His prose is always compelling. His mind is exquisite – I loved the way that he used watches and clocks both to leave clues and as instruments of mental and physical torture.

Watching You is a study in masterful, fast paced and intelligent prose. This is a book which launches straight into the action, leaving the reader breathlessly running to catch up with our protagonist, Detective Sam Berger and his intuitive and always reliable sidekick, Deer.

From the beginning we know that Sam is not a straightforward policeman. The fact that he is taking one small piece of evidence from each crime scene tells us that there is more to these crimes than we yet understand.

Sam Berger is looking for a missing schoolgirl, Ellen Savinger. She is one of at least three teenage girls that have gone missing. When the police receive a phone call about strange goings on in a house in the forest, they are sure they have their first real lead, but what they fine when they get there is a trap laid for them.

Looking through photographs and TV footage from the similar crime scenes they have identified, Sam spots a face that is common to more than one scene. Who is Nathalie Freden and what is her connection to the killer?

But first Sam has to convince his bosses that they are looking for a serial killer; something they are very reluctant to acknowledge.

With the clock ticking, Sam has to use every tool at his disposal to advance the search for Ellen Savinger if he has any hope of finding her alive.

I really enjoyed Watching You, because although it has all the intense, adrenalin fuelled moments you expect from a great crime novel, it is also a deeply thoughtful and insightful look at how a serial killer comes into being.

There are some sad and revealing moments in this book, which offers an understanding, if not a forgiveness, of what can lead a human being to commit such gross and callous acts.

There are lots of unexpected twists and turns, not least a pretty massive revelation fairly early in the book. It also has quite a cliffhanger of an ending – paving the way for more with Dahl’s characters from this novel.

Highly enjoyable, thought provoking, crime fiction from a Scandi- noir master at the top of his game.

Watching You is published by Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Harvill Secker on 6th July 2017

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About Arne Dahl

arne dahl

Jan Arnald is a Swedish crime author and literary critic, internationally famous for writing under the pen name Arne Dahl. His writing can also be seen in Sweden’s biggest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. He published Barbarer (2001) and Maria och Artur (2006) under his own name but under his pseudonym, he has written the ten-part Intercrime series, involving the A-team, a group highly trained in dealing with criminal cases in Sweden. The eleventh book in the series, Elva was published in August, 2008. The books are translated into over 25 languages.

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