THE WATER TOWER by Amy Young
SERIES: A Lakeview Mystery #1
GENRE: Mystery/Thriller (General Market)
PUBLISHER: Level Best Books
RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2023
Josie Ashbury was a successful Hollywood actress with a booming career—until an on-set breakdown sends her back to her small Ohio hometown to recover. Taking a job teaching at her old high school, Josie is beginning to put the pieces of her life back together when one of her students dies under suspicious circumstances. The police close the case quickly, without any real answers. Josie is determined to find the truth behind the girl’s death.
At the same time, Josie is battling demons of her own. As she faces debilitating insomnia that leaves her with gaps in her memory, she dives into the tangled secrets surrounding the investigation. When she finally unravels the web, she discovers that the truth lies much closer to home than she could have ever imagined.
Josie Ashbury is a famous Hollywood actress who has returned home to small town Ohio to recover from a series of traumatic events (some we are privy to right away, some are revealed later in the story). Being back in Lakeview seems good for her, at first, and she enjoys getting reacquainted with her longtime friends and working as an acting teacher at the local high school (which is almost literally in her back yard). She even is friendly with her first love and quickly falling for a new one. But, she is struggling with severe insomnia and her friends are concerned. All of that pales, though, when Josie stumbles on the body of one of her students at the base of the town’s infamous water tower.
What follows is a shiver-inducing plot with definite psychological thriller vibes. I love stories where you can’t quite decide if there is an unreliable narrator or not, until of course it becomes clear one way or the other. And I thought Amy Young did a great job of constructing certain story elements to perpetuate this ambiguity as she continued to reveal layers bit by bit, keeping the whole truth just out of reach until the right moment. I eventually got to the point that I didn’t trust anyone, not even Josie, and two separate revelations made me want to go back and re-read the whole thing with that newly-gained knowledge in mind.
Bottom Line: The Water Tower is a suspenseful mystery featuring a compelling-but-troubled amateur sleuth who is supported by a close circle of friends, a compassionate therapist, and her faithful feline companions. Now if she could only sleep! Josie’s insomnia adds to the psychological tension that is always close at hand, and her uncertainty – as to what’s true and what’s not – matched my own. A couple of surprising twists kept me turning the pages, and the ending leaves just enough loose threads to keep readers eager for book two! There were some writing choices that I didn’t love, particularly when it came to the distracting overuse of the word ‘like’ when any teenager was talking. But overall, this was an entertaining novel with the promise of more to come.
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that this book contains a moderate amount of mild cursing and a couple of profanities, as well as the ‘closed door’ implication of intimate activity. There are also some possible triggers for readers who have sensitivity to discussions of suicide, teen death, drug abuse or underage prostitution.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!
Amy Young is an author, comedian, and actor based in Cleveland. After spending a decade in Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry and writing her debut novel, The Water Tower, she returned to Ohio to be closer to family. Amy is working on her second book, a thriller, and in her free time she enjoys going to the theatre, bingeing reality TV, and spending time with her husband and many, many cats. She has a B.A. in English from Kenyon College.
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