Review: Always Watching by Chevy Stevens

 

Title: Always Watching

Author: Chevy Stevens

Published: Allen & Unwin July 2013

Status: Read from July 13 to 14, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

In Always Watching, Chevy Stevens third novel, Dr Nadine Lavoie is forced to confront the demons of her past after one of her psychiatric patients reveals a connection to the commune in which Nadine spent part of her childhood.

Those familiar with Chevy Stevens’ novel, Never Knowing, will recognise Nadine’s name as the psychiatrist Sara Gallagher was consulting. Nadine, in her mid fifties, is a widow, the mother of a runaway drug addicted daughter, Lisa, and stepmother to Garret. She has recently moved into Victoria from its outskirts, leaving her private practice behind to work at St Adrian’s Hospital.
Nadine’s childhood was characterised by an abusive father and manic depressive mother. When Nadine was about twelve, her mother took Nadine and her brother to live on a commune. Nadine has few memories of her time there but feels her claustrophobia is linked to some associated stressful event.

When a suicidal patient presents at St Adrian’s, Nadine learns of her connection to The River of Life center led by Aaron Quinn, which evolved from the commune Nadine had lived with. Concerned by the information her patient provides about the Center’s operations, and still puzzled by the vagueness of her own memories, Nadine begins to ask questions about the cult. But her investigation has Aaron on the defensive and he has secrets he doesn’t want anybody to know.

While Never Knowing had me turning the pages, breathless with anxiety and anticipation, Always Watching lacks the same tension and urgent pace. It probably isn’t fair to make the comparison but I was expecting a fast paced psychological thriller from the marketing and I just don’t think Stevens achieved that here. Apart from a burst of frantic speed near the end of the novel when Nadine confronts Aaron, I didn’t feel there was any suspense to speak of.

Neither is there anything particularly original in terms of plotting. Given Nadine’s repressed memories it is obvious something nasty happened to her and what she experiences is really no surprise given that cults target vulnerable members of society, use shocking methods to control its disciples and sexual abuse is rife.
The sub plot involving Nadine’s daughter Lisa, a drug addict living in the streets is more interesting, though neither was I really surprised by her revelations.

With some degree of regret, I can’t say Always Watching was really anything more than an okay read for me.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn White (@KathrynsInbox)
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 21:38:57

    I’ve only read one of Chevy Stevens’ novels (Never Knowing) and found the writing and characters to be somewhat lacking. Not bad, just … lacking something.

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  2. laurelrainsnow
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 22:03:46

    I’m reading Always Watching now, but I’m not far into it. A few other people have been disappointed, too. I’m hoping that, despite these factors, I’ll find it enjoyable. We shall see.

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  3. 1girl2manybooks
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 22:11:14

    Disappointing that this one wasn’t amazing for you!

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  4. stacybuckeye
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 13:51:53

    I read her first one and liked it. Too bad this one disappointed.

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  5. Mystica
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 14:11:05

    I enjoyed both books I read – I was always on edge as it were with both books!

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