Daily Archives: June 9, 2011

The Watchers by Jon Steele

Out now from Bantam Press.

After a recent post where I made reference to the fact that I don’t normally like to have a photorealistic image of a face on a book jacket (Sympathy for the Devil) as I prefer to make up my own mind what the characters look like, here’s where I run the serious risk of being accused of hypocrisy.

With this, the debut novel from award winning ex-cameraman and editor for ITN Jon Steele, it was the eerie half face on the book jacket that MADE me want to find out more and read the book.

From that simple image there just seemed to be so many possibilities as to the genre and theme of the book, from the single staring almost alien eye to the hint of white bird feathers across the face.  Until I cracked open the covers, I still really had no idea whether I was embarking on a sinister crime novel, a tale of alien abductions or a supernatural or outright horror story.   The skill of the storytelling is such, however, that I felt the end result could have been any one of those things, I found myself so caught up with the central characters, of which there is a trio, that I would have pretty much followed them along any path they chose.

Three lives.

One purpose.

Save what’s left of paradise before all hell breaks loose…

Marc Rochat is the youngest and most memorable character, a crippled boy who discusses all his day to day business with the bells he keeps clean and watches over in the cathedral tower in Lausanne, Switzerland.  He sees ghosts, talks to the skeletons of the dead, draws the most incredible images and sees things sometimes in what he calls ‘beforetimes’.

He spends his nights patrolling the timber framework surrounding the bells and watching over the city, and it’s on one such watching that he spies the stunning ‘angel’ Katherine Taylor – a high class and very highly paid hooker who is in town on business.  Marc lives in his own fairytale world and, as such, sees Katherine as the angel his mother always told him he’d one day be responsible for saving.

The third character thrown into the mix is Jay Harper, an English PI who’s in Lausanne on behalf of the Olympic committee to try and find out what has happened to a top athlete who has gone missing.  In the way of all of the best fantasy, there is clearly a reason for their three worlds to collide and, much like Stephen King’s The Stand but on a smaller, tighter scale this is the classic tale of good versus evil which takes place in a great setting.

Coming in at 550 pages, this is an epic book but one that tells a tale of a very small group of people struggling to maintain the safety of the world around them, whilst all the time the rest of the world is going about its business without knowing what is taking place in and around the bell tower.  But, despite its length, I didn’t feel it had outstayed its welcome, in fact I’d love to read more of the characters that Jon Steele has created here.  In that respect, I found it akin to Justin Cronin’s The Passage – a massive book but still only  the beginning, as with The Watchers, of a promised trilogy of books !

Bring it on!

If you fancy a real break from the norm.

Highly recommended.

Keith

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