Sunday, 19 October 2014

'While No One Was Watching' by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, reviewed by Ali Bacon

This is a cracker of a novel and one of the best e-books I have read this year (it’s also available in paperback).
It takes the question that has fascinated everyone in our generation ‘where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ and gives it a new twist: ‘what else might have happened at that moment, in Dallas, when everyone’s eyes were on the president’s car?’ 

In Debz Hobbs-Wyatt’s debut novel (which really is stunning), a child is abducted at that very moment when everyone’s back was turned.  The story is taken up in the present day by Gary, a divorced journalist living near Dallas, whose fourteen year-old son Ty visits only at weekends. While reporting on another crime, he runs into a black psychic, Lydia Collins, whose many family ghosts live on in her house and in her head. The plot is taught and multi-faceted. Gary and Lydia’s back stories have many things in common which are echoed in the events that begin to unroll.
In a powerful subplot, a horrific event takes place at Ty’s school so that he’s caught up in a crisis of his own.  

All of this makes for a compelling page-turner, but there's more to it than that. What lifts the book out of the ordinary (if it ever could have been there!) is the brilliant characterisation and in particular the voice of  Lydia, who for me is as authentic as anything in the The Help or The Color Purple.
I found this book original, intriguing and gripping and can recommend it without reservation. 

While No One was Watching was published by Parthian in 2013 and is available in print and e-book from Amazon.
You can read more about the author on her website.

Ali Bacon
Twitter @AliBacon
A Kettle of Fish on Amazon UK, Amazon USA

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