The Edgars-When No One is Watching


  • Who: The Edgar Award is named after Edgar Allen Poe; given by the Mystery Writers of America
  • What: to honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater
  • When: given annually since 1946
  • Categories: first novel, fact crime, short story, young adult, paperback original, critical/biographical, juvenile
  • Prize: not sure if there is a cash prize or anything else
  • Other winners:


When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole is a thriller. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think I’m a big thriller type of girl. Apparently, there is a difference between a mystery and a thriller even though they are very similar. In a mystery, the crime happens at the beginning and the main characters have to work out who did the crime, but in a thriller the bad guys are introduced at the beginning and then the characters work up how to stop them from committing the crime by the end.

Her eyes so filled with hurt, a hurt I understand completely–the pain of grabbing a proverbial hot doorknob, pulling the door open, and not being able to let go as your mother’s bad decisions flambé you in their backdraft.

It isn’t fast paced so if that is something you want then this might not be for you. The build up is very slow and the climax comes very quickly in the last few pages. It seems to have a rushed ending because the author takes so long to build up the backstory. Cole weaves a lot of Brooklyn history into the story line and without it the book wouldn’t have a strong idea to revolve around. Gentrification is an important process we all know about. I’m sure we all know a neighborhood that has been gentrified where we live. This novel pits the current residents against the new people moving in.

“Don’t worry, it’s not poison,” Gracie adds, then tilts her head. “Not for us. But come to think of it, it is a recipe passed down from generation to generation, and back on the Bajan plantations it was called ‘buckrams do-fa-do.’ Many slavers came to an unfortunate end after having a cup.”

Fitzroy snort-laughs. “Not enough of them, though!”

I think what brings the thrill to the novel is the fact that the buildup is so slow that when something crazy happens it comes out of nowhere and you are shocked to find out what is going on. There are a few times where I was scared of what was happening. The surprises come and go very quickly. Sometimes you even feel like you imagined it.

I found myself very angry at characters and the way they treated people, which I’m sure the author wanted us to feel. The point of view alternates between a black woman who already lives in the neighborhood and a white man who moves in next door. There is a tiny bit of romance in it but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot. This is not a romantic suspense novel. If I say more about the two of them it would ruin a big part of the story so I will keep that information to myself.

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