Someone is Watching
Joy Fielding
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Buy *Someone is Watching* by Joy Fieldingonline

Someone is Watching
Joy Fielding
384 pages
March 2015
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Rear Window is the inspiration for a thriller that builds upon a favorite theme, transcending the risk of the voyeur in a plot that ratchets up the mystery and the consequences. While Bailey Carpenter clings to the security of her high-rise Miami condo after a particularly brutal beating and rape, a victim of PTSD still terrified to leave the confines of her home, she stares out her darkened bedroom window to the building across from hers, where a handsome exhibitionist revels in sexual exploits with a series of female lovers. So far the plot remains within the confines of Hitchcock’s film, though the traumatized Bailey is far more vulnerable than the calm Jimmy Stewart who watches his neighbors through binoculars out of boredom.

Bailey has no such peace of mind as Fielding’s plot segues into riskier territory. As a private investigator for a powerful Miami law firm, Carpenter has always been self-confident, unafraid to follow wherever her jobs leads, including surveillance the night of the attack. But Bailey can’t describe her attacker, didn’t even see his face, a pillowcase pulled over her head to further confuse her during the rape. She only has a vague idea of the age and height of her assailant, her only clear recollection his black sneakers with a Nike logo. Her mind is free to wonder--and does with every man who fits the vague profile--could this be her attacker? This sense of helplessness, the not knowing the identity of her rapist, cripples Bailey, her dreams become nightmares. Unable to eat, sleep or return to work, Carpenter’s only distraction is the stranger across the way, and even he is a candidate for suspicion. She relies on the discretion of the young men posted at the lobby desk downstairs to screen prospective visitors.

Details of Bailey’s life and the other characters in her orbit flesh out the thriller, the circumstances that have enabled a young career woman to live in an upscale, doorman-secured Miami high-rise. She has enjoyed a privileged life as the daughter of a wealthy man with three marriages behind him, the last to Bailey’s mother and his only truly happy union. But her world shifted, first with the death of her mother, scant years later followed by her father. Though there are five other half-siblings, Bailey relies on the emotional support of her brother, Heath, a handsome playboy/actor with questionable friends and a penchant for staying high, though he is of little help in her moment of need. Meanwhile, both are involved in a lawsuit instigated by the two elder siblings, Eugene and Claire, the disbursal of their father’s estate potentially tied up for years awaiting resolution in the courts.

In yet another emotional twist, it is step-sibling Claire, a nurse, who suddenly enters Bailey’s life when she is weakest and most vulnerable. Though she tries, Bailey is unable to resist Claire’s unexpected generosity, grateful for the assistance. She puts their legal troubles aside, even warming to Claire’s acerbic fifteen-year-old daughter, Jade, who is as irreverent and irrepressible as she is resourceful. The teen ignores her mother’s concerns with a hubris that declares the world a safe place, Bailey’s condition to the contrary. Thankfully, Claire and Jade are around when Bailey begins noticing the increasingly bizarre activities in the stranger’s apartment. Her observations fuel a conundrum that veers between suspicion that the man is her rapist or, even worse, a killer. Only occasionally venturing outside with Claire’s help, Bailey is essentially trapped in her condo facing a double-pronged threat: her own safety from the rapist and the escalating violence she views across the way.

Set against the background of Bailey’s (legitimate) paranoia and detectives’ suspicions that the victim is hallucinating reported incidents of violence without reliable proof, a suddenly sinister plot turns expectations inside-out. Bailey’s painfully slow recovery from her attack coincides with a situation that will require whatever courage she retains to survive.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2015

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