Cover image for Nightwatcher
Wilson, Charles, 1939-
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New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, [1990]

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This flawed composite of mystery and psychothriller nonetheless delivers several gut-wrenching thrills amid some overzealous clue-dropping. The first section is far and away the best: a psychopath with a window room in the asylum witnesses a nurse's murder, which occurs on the same night three inmates escape. The nurse's lawyer father, who travels up from New Orleans to investigate, enlists the help of a local policeman and a rogue private detective. Wilson has a torrid plot and an understated prose style. On the other hand, there are far too many red herrings, and the dialogue doesn't jump off the page with the necessary flash. Still, the cop is a nice study in ambiguity, the father is a believable soul beset by parental guilt, and the watcher from the window is the perfect blend of paranoia, pettiness, and a strange, pitiful sense of pride. ~--Peter Robertson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wilson's debut--a neat mix of mystery, police procedural and terror--marks him as someone to watch. On the night three men escape from a Mississippi insane asylum, a young nurse is raped and murdered just outside the grounds. Her lawyer father, Brandon Richards, arrives at dawn, mourning Judith and bent on revenge. It soon becomes clear that the escapees are not responsible, mainly because their blood types do not match that found on the scene. But the blood is the type of Judith's estranged bisexual husband, whose boyfriend may supply an alibi. Richards teams up with Sheriff Tidmore and hires private eye J. J. Winstead (not known for legal niceties) to track down the killer. Complications proliferate: a psychopathic mass murderer says he saw the killer from his cell; the boyfriend is slain; Richards is arrested for trying to plant evidence in his son-in-law's home; tales of Judith's risky extramarital affairs cause Richards to doubt his new ``friends'' Tidmore and Winstead; and there are three more killings. The case is tied up neatly, but not before Wilson had led us on a complicated, occasionally harrowing chase. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The vicious murder of a vulnerable nurse outside a state mental hospital brings New Orleans lawyer Brandon Richards to the scene, panting for revenge. High anxiety and hurried pace shove the plot along, turning Richards into amateur detective, introducing any number of questionable characters, and plying the text with gratuitous standard elements (setup for a fall, Mafia father, sudden girlfriend on the scene, etc.). The speed compensates for the rapidly thinning prose, however, so just as interest dies, the book ends. A slick but negligible and trite first novel. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.