They're Watching

They're Watching

3.9 70
by Gregg Hurwitz
     
 

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All Patrick Davis ever wanted to do was make movies. But after he gets his big break and sells his first screenplay, his life collapses. His Hollywood dreams crumble almost immediately, sending him back to his dreary day job. Even his storybook marriage is on the rocks. And just when it seems things couldn't be worse, the DVDs start coming in…

The ominous

Overview

All Patrick Davis ever wanted to do was make movies. But after he gets his big break and sells his first screenplay, his life collapses. His Hollywood dreams crumble almost immediately, sending him back to his dreary day job. Even his storybook marriage is on the rocks. And just when it seems things couldn't be worse, the DVDs start coming in…

The ominous DVDs show that someone is watching Patrick and his wife—that the two are being stalked and recorded by cameras hidden around and within their house. Then come the emails… Finally, someone confronts Patrick with an offer he can't refuse: To take the mess his life has become and make it all right. Patrick figures it's the offer of a lifetime. But he's dead wrong.

Now, with every step, Patrick moves deeper and deeper into a web of intrigue that threatens everything he still has and values in this world. Before he knows it, he's in too deep—and the only way out of is to outwit and outplay his unseen opponents at their own game…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Scott Brick has a subject worthy of his considerable talents in Hurwitz's hapless protagonist, Patrick Davis. The down-on-his-luck ex-screenwriter who's being sued by a film company, and whose wife is talking divorce, is notified one morning by an unknown but clearly sinister group that he's under their constant observation and must do their bidding or else. The author's cleverly complex tale puts Patrick through hell, and since the character is not merely its hero but also its narrator, Brick is under pressure to accurately reflect his feelings as the all-knowing watchers begin manipulating him to fit their hidden agendas. Brick brilliantly conveys Patrick's emotions as he pinballs from glum depression to confusion, from terror to a renewed sense of purpose. A tour de force performance from the always reliable Brick. A St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, May 31). (July)
From the Publisher

“Riveting, emotionally rich, original, and beautifully written, this book kept me up too late reading, had me sneaking in pages the next day. They're Watching reminded me what it's like to be in the thrall of a great story: helpless until the end, loving every minute of it.” —Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Die for You

“Rousing…intriguing…one shocking surprise after another…Always a master of the gripping setup, Hurwitz outdoes himself in this ultra-suspenseful thriller.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride! From the anxiety-inducing first page to the nerve-wracking last, They're Watching will keep you riveted as one man fights for his family, his career and his very life.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Live to Tell

“A strong Hitchcock vibe… Hurwitz has the smarts and the writing chops to earn his suspense in a way that lesser writers simply can't….[he] has firmly established himself as one of the top writers in the suspense genre. He can be counted on to consistently deliver enough thrills to satisfy even the most demanding readers.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Invasion of privacy reaches sinister new levels in thriller maestro Hurwitz's latest….With cinematic pacing and strong echoes of countless other twisty suspenses, this one is a natural for the big screen.” —People

“Turns with equal skill and mastery down the nightmarish road paved by Harlan Coben…Hurwitz's grasp of Hollywood noir is firm and his command of his story makes They're Watching riveting in all respects.” —Providence Journal-Bulletin

“[A] labyrinthine thriller…full of twists and turns and unexpected revelations. Hurwitz frequently sets us up to expect one thing but delivers something entirely different. He keeps us constantly on our toes, and--this is especially good--he keeps us guessing right until the very last pages about exactly who has targeted Patrick and why. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Dean Koontz, Linwood Barclay, and Harlan Coben.” —Booklist (starred review)

“You'll be gripped by this terrific read from page one.” —The Sun

They're Watching is a thrilling novel, dripping with mystery, suspense, violence, and even a little romance. It contains all the ingredients for a bestseller.” —New York Journal of Books

Library Journal
First-time screenwriter Patrick Davis is in big trouble. Accused of punching the star of his first film, estranged from his wife, and failing at his teaching job, he's pressed to the limit. Then his troubles really start. Frightening DVDs, mysterious emails, and threatening phone calls push him off balance and into a frame-up for murder. VERDICT Scary fun, handled with skill by veteran Hurwitz (Trust No One). [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10; 125,000-copy first printing and library marketing.]

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250100313
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/26/2011
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
304,629
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

THEY'RE WATCHING

In my boxers I stepped out onto the cold flagstones of my porch to retrieve the morning paper, which had landed, inevitably, in the puddle by the broken sprinkler. The apartments across the street, Bel Air in zip code only, reflected the gray clouds in their windows and sliding glass doors, mirroring my mood. L.A.'s winter had made a late entrance as always, slow to rise, shake off its hangover, and put on its face. But it had arrived, tamping the mercury down to the high forties and glazing the leased luxury sedans with dew.

I fished out the dripping paper, mercifully enclosed in plastic, and retreated back inside. Sinking again into the family-room couch, I freed the Times and pulled out the Entertainment section. As I unfolded it, a DVD in a clear case fell out, dropping into my lap.

I stared down at it for a moment. Turned it over. A blank, unmarked disc, the kind you buy in bulk to record onto. Bizarre. Even a touch ominous. I got up, knelt on the throw rug, and slipped the disc into the DVD player. Clicking off the surround sound so as not to wake Ariana, I sat on the floor and stared at the plasma screen, rashly purchased when our bank account was still on a northerly heading.

A few visual hiccups jerked the image, followed by a placid close-up shot of a window framed by plantation shutters, not quite closed. Through the window I could see a brushed-nickel towel rack and a rectangular pedestal sink. At the edge of the frame was an exterior wall, Cape Cod blue. The view took only a second to register—it was as familiar as my reflection, but, given the context, oddly foreign.

It was our downstairs bathroom, seen from outside, through the window.

A faint pulse came to life in the pit of my stomach. Apprehension.

The footage was grainy, looked like digital. The depth of field didn't show compression, so probably not a zoom. My guess was it had been taken a few feet back from the pane, just far enough not to pick up a reflection. The shot was static, maybe from a tripod. No audio, nothing but perfect silence razoring its way under the skin at the back of my neck. I was transfixed.

Through the window and the half-open bathroom door, a slice of hall was visible. A few seconds passed in a near freeze-frame. Then the door swung in. Me. I entered, visible from neck to knee, the shutters chopping me into slices. In my blue-and-white-striped boxers, I stepped to the toilet and took a leak, my back barely in view. A light bruise came into focus, high on my shoulder blade. I washed my hands at the sink, then brushed my teeth. I exited. The screen went black.

Watching myself, I'd bitten down on the inside of my cheek. Stupidly, I glanced down to determine what pair of boxers I had on today. Plaid flannel. I thought about that bruise; I'd banged my back standing up into an open cabinet door just last week. I was trying to recall which day I'd done it when I heard Ariana clanking around in the kitchen behind me, starting breakfast. Sound carries easily through the wide doorways of our fifties open-plan two-story.

The DVD's placement—tucked into the Entertainment section—struck me as deliberate and pointed. I clicked "play," watched again. A prank? But it wasn't funny. It wasn't much of anything. Except unsettling.

Still gnawing my cheek, I got up and trudged upstairs, past my office with the view of the Millers' much bigger yard, and into our bedroom. I checked my shoulder blade in the mirror—same bruise, same location, same size and color. In the back of the walk-in closet, I found the laundry basket. On the top of the mound were my blue-and-white-striped boxers.

Yesterday.

I dressed and then went down to the family room again. I pushed aside my blanket and pillow, sat on the couch, and started the DVD once more. Running time, a minute and forty-one seconds.

Even if it was just a tasteless joke, it was the last thing Ariana and I needed to deal with right now. I didn't want to upset her, but I also didn't want to withhold it from her.

Before I could work out what to do, she walked in carrying a breakfast tray. She was showered and dressed, a mariposa lily from her greenhouse shed tucked behind her left ear, the flower a striking contrast with the chestnut waves of hair. Instinctively, I clicked off the TV. Her gaze scanned over, picked up the green light on the DVD. Shifting her grip on the tray, she flicked her thumbnail against her gold wedding band, a nervous tic. "What are you watching?"

"Just a thing from school," I said. "Nothing to worry about."

"Why would I worry?"

A pause as I worked out what to say. I managed only a contrived shrug.

She tilted her head, indicating a thin scab across the knuckles of my left hand. "What happened there, Patrick?"

"Caught it in the car door."

"Treacherous door lately." She set the tray down on the coffee table. Poached eggs, toast, orange juice. I paused to take her in. Caramel skin, the mane of almost-black hair, those big dark eyes. At thirty-five, she had a year on me, but her genes kept her looking at least a few younger. Despite her upbringing in the Valley, she was a Mediterranean mutt—Greek, Italian, Spanish, even a little Turkish thrown in the mix. The best parts of each ethnicity had been distilled into her features. At least that's how I'd always seen her. When I looked at her, my mind drifted to how things used to be between us—my hand on her knee as we ate, the warmth of her cheek when she awakened, her head resting in the crook of my arm at the movies. My anger toward her started to weaken, so I focused on the blank screen.

"Thanks," I said, nodding at the breakfast tray. My low-grade detective work had already put me ten minutes behind schedule. The edginess I was feeling must have been evident, because she gave a frown before withdrawing.

Leaving the food untouched, I got up from the couch and stepped out the front door again. I circled the house to the side facing the Millers'. Of course the wet grass beneath the window showed no marks or matting, and the perp had forgotten to drop a helpful matchbook, cigarette butt, or too-small glove. I sidestepped until I got the perspective right. A sense of foreboding overtook me, and I glanced over one shoulder, then the other, unable to settle my nerves. Gazing back through the slats, I felt a surreal spasm and half expected to watch myself enter the bathroom again, a time warp in striped boxers.

Instead Ariana appeared in the bathroom doorframe, looking out at me. What are you doing? she mouthed.

The ache in my bruised knuckles told me my hands were clenched. I exhaled, relaxed them. "Just checking the fence. It's sagging." I pointed at it like an idiot. See, there. Fence.

Smirking, she palmed the slats closed as she set down the toilet seat.

I walked back into the house, returned to the couch, and watched the DVD through a third time. Then I removed the disc and stared at the etched logo. It was the same cheap kind I used to burn shows from TiVo when I wanted to watch them downstairs. Purposefully nondescript.

Ariana passed through, regarded the untouched food on the tray. "I promise I didn't poison it."

Grudgingly, I smiled. When I looked up, she'd already headed for the stairs.

I tossed the DVD into the passenger seat of my beater Camry and stood by the open door, listening to the quiet of the garage.

I used to love this house. It was at the summit of Roscomare Road near Mulholland, barely affordable and only because it shared the block with those cracked-stucco apartments and a neighborhood shopping strip. Our side of the street was all houses, and we liked to pretend we lived in a neighborhood rather than on a thoroughfare between neighborhoods. I'd had so much pride in the place when we'd moved in. I'd bought new address numbers, repaired the porch light, torn out the spinsterly rosebushes. Everything done with such care, such optimism.

The sound of steadily passing cars filtered into the dark space around me. I clicked the button to open the garage door and sneaked under it as it went up. Then I circled back through the side gate and past the trash cans. The window overlooking the kitchen sink gave a clear view of the family room, and of Ariana sitting on the arm of the couch. Steam wisped from the coffee mug resting on her pajamaed knee. She held it dutifully, but I knew she wouldn't drink it. She'd cry until it got cold, and then she'd pour it down the sink. I stood nailed to the ground as always, knowing I ought to go in to her but blocked by what little remaining pride I had left. My wife of eleven years, inside, crying. And me out here, lost in a haze of silent devastation. After a moment I eased away from the window. The bizarre DVD had pushed my vulnerability up another notch. I didn't have it in me to punish myself by watching her, not this morning.

THEY'RE WATCHING Copyright © 2010 by Gregg Hurwitz

Meet the Author


Gregg Hurwitz is the author of a number of critically acclaimed thrillers, including They’re Watching, Trust No One, The Crime Writer and Troubleshooting. International bestsellers, his novels have been finalists for several awards, including the Crime Writers of America Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and the ITW Best Novel of the Year awards. In addition to his novels, he has also written comic books and screenplays, developed television series for Warner Brothers and Lakeshore, published scholarly articles on Shakespeare, and is currently a consulting producer on ABC’s “V.” He has taught fiction at the University of Southern California and guest lectured for UCLA and Harvard. Hurwitz grew up in the Bay Area and earned his B.A. from Harvard and a master’s from Trinity College at Oxford. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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They're Watching 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having enjoyed Trust No One, the author's first novel, I picked this up and enjoyed it too. He keeps his cards close to the vest. Even though the beginning is a bit cute, the pace picks up as the book moves along.
SuperBookish More than 1 year ago
Great Book with great story line. Kept me entertained
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books that I have read, a must read. This book will consume you. Enjoy!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an incredibly good book if you like thrillers at all. The action and the need to never stop reading begins right at the beginning of the book, and never lets up. It has an original plot, very well developed, with characters you will remember. I will be buying more of Gregg Hurwitz's books, for sure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story with suspense and thriller tone. The writing gets a little slow at times, but stick with the story - It is worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Original turn of events dealing with murder and set up, kept me guessing. A very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It may take a few chapters to get into it but once it starts picking up the pace it races to the end.
Rickster2010 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed trying to figure out who was messing with the main character's life and who was framing him for murder. Who would bother taking such elaborate steps to set up a college professor and part time writer? I enjoyed reading this as the story unfolded. It didn't go where I thought that it would, but in the end it did make sense. This is an exciting book that I think most readers will enjoy. I would NOT recommend it for younger readers due to some profane language peppered throughout the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me guessing right up to the end of the book! Very suspensful!
crazynormal More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down! Entertaining, fast paced and keeps you rooting for the good guy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not be fooled by the beginning. The story quickly picks up into a whillrlwind of conspiracy that is difficult to set aside.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book! I couldn't put it down. I will for sure look for more books by Hurwitz.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in one day. I could not put it down. Highly reccomend as it was very entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book that you won't want to put down
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have never read a novel by Gregg Hurwitz, you are missing out. What a great author. He keeps you turning pages and riveted to your seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Takes a while to get this tale in motion. Once the story gets moving, the action is pretty much nonstop. Finish is like a whole group of elite marathoners, thundering down that last quartermile to the finish line. Very good read! J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book but it can get your mind playing tricks on you
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