Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge reviewed

Watching from the Dark Book Cover Watching from the Dark
DCI Jonal Sheens
Gytha Lodge
Penguin Books (UK)
February 02, 2020

Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?

I read and enjoyed Gytha Lodge’s first book. While I wasn’t blown away by it it was a decent crime read and I did like a couple of the characters in it. One them was DCI Jonah Sheens and Watching from the Dark finds him involved in another puzzling case. Aidan is on his computer late at night to call his girlfriend Zoe on Skye. He realises that there seems to be someone else in her flat and then hears a violent struggle taking place. It all goes quiet and he wonders if Zoe has come to harm. Given that why is he reluctant to call the police and when he eventually does why does he not hand over vital information? It strikes Jonah that all is not as it seems with this case.

Watching from the Dark follows Jonah and his team’s investigation into the case. The book switches between this and events in Zoe’s past. These narratives gradually come together by the end of the case. Much of the investigation is around Zoe’s friends and Aidan. I confess I didn’t find any of the characters outstanding but they were not bad.

Ultimately the chapters on the current investigation held me better than the historical ones for some reason. I guess Zoe’s past life and incidents with her friends simply were not as interesting as the actual case. I think overall I prefer the previous book however I did find parts of this – particularly towards the end – very compelling and quite powerful. In the end I would call Watching from the Dark something of a holiday read. I’d probably read another book about Jonah and his team in the future.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review