Sunday 21 July 2019

Book ~ "I'll Be Watching You" (2019) Courtney Evan Tate

From Goodreads ~ Leah, a popular sixteen year old, is uncharacteristically apprehensive the night before her new school year begins. She decides to take a moonlight paddle at her divorced parents’ Florida beachside inn to take the edge off her anxiety. Moments later she vanishes in the water without a trace. The police assume death by drowning since sharks had been sighted nearby earlier in the day. They do a cursory investigation and that's it. The community comes out to give support but days later her mother Emmy is still wondering what happened to her beautiful daughter. And why is there no body?

In the days that follow, Emmy accidentally discovers pornographic images of her daughter on her laptop. Some appear to be selfies taken for someone else's pleasure. Others are clearly taken by a voyeur and sent to Leah. Shockingly, they reveal darkly tantalizing clues to an older man’s involvement. Emmy's heartbreak turns to deep rage as she sets out to unmask who this monster is who has stolen her daughter's innocence - and perhaps more. 

As her suspicion falls on various locals who, as unlikely as they may seem, may have lured Leah into risky, even deadly, behavior - the youth pastor, the long time resident in bungalow 3, his son who visits from New York - she trusts no one. Suddenly her once close knit community, itself its own paradise, has been invaded by evil, an evil that is still lurking in the shadows - one that she is determined to expose. 

Emmy and her 16-year-old daughter, Leah, live in the Florida Keys.  Nate, Emmy's ex-husband and Leah's father, lives in Phoenix but has a good relationship with both.  Emmy is running the inn that her grandparents, who had raised her, left her.  Emmy does well in school, is popular and has lots of friends.  On the night before school starts for another year, she goes for a night time paddle and disappears.  The police investigate and determine that she was the victim of a shark attack.

Unable to cope with daughter's death, Emmy closes the inn for a month so she can grieve.  That's when she discovers the daughter she thought she knew had a dark side.  Leah had been in a twisted sexual relationship with an older man and Emmy is determined to find out who he was to make him pay for taking advantage of her under-aged daughter.

This is the first book I've read by this author and, despite the subject matter, I liked it.  I liked the writing style.  It is written in first person perspective when it is Emmy's point of view and third person perspective when the focus is on others.  The first chapter is when Leah disappears in the water.  The chapters after that alternate between a month before her disappearance and days after her disappearance (they are marked at the beginning of the chapters) and this worked for me.  As a head's up, there is swearing and sexual activity.

There are a couple strong possibilities of who Leah was having a relationship with ... Derek who rents a cottage on the inn's property and is the father of Liam, one of Leah's best friends, or Hutch, the local pastor, who spends a lot of time with the local youth.  We don't find out until the end.

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