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Neighborhood Watch: A Novel Hardcover – June 10, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this superb suburban thriller from McGovern (Eye Contact), newly tested DNA evidence results in the release from prison of Betsy Treading (aka the Librarian Murderess) after serving 12 years for the bludgeoning of sexy divorcée Linda Sue Nelson, a neighbor in Milford, Conn. Betsy, a somnambulist, had confessed out of fear she'd done the deed while sleepwalking. Back home in Milford, Betsy determines to find out who really killed Linda Sue, who was having an affair with their married neighbor, charismatic author Geoffrey Steadman, who was a friend of Betsy's then husband, Paul. Now divorced from Paul, Betsy accepts temporary lodgings with an old friend and neighbor, Marianne Rashke, founder of the local neighborhood watch group. McGovern, a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, seductively unreels Betsy's pursuit of the truth one shocking spool at a time. Fans of literary suspense fiction will be well rewarded. 4-city author tour. (June)
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From Booklist

Newly released from prison 12 years after being wrongly convicted of murdering her neighbor, suburban librarian Betsy Treading is back in her old community, temporarily living with the only friend who has stuck by her through her incarceration. While grateful that Marianne has taken her in, Betsy is also justifiably wary of the woman whose inexplicable paranoia directly ignited the personal security vendetta that so dramatically influenced events leading up to Linda Sue's murder. Betsy's lawyer has encouraged her to use her return to her old neighborhood to dig for clues that could help put the real killer behind bars, but in reexamining her former life and relationships, Betsy uncovers some unsettling truths about herself as well as the people she thought she could trust the most. Although hampered by flawed logic and a meandering narrative voice, McGovern's engrossing tale of mistrust and deception is made all the more sinister by the false security portrayed behind its conventional white-picket-fence facade. --Carol Haggas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (June 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022038
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,287,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Great start to the summer reading season. I felt like all the characters in this novel could live on my street, no one was a mere foil. Best of all, my enjoyment didn't come down to whether the end was sufficiently surprising or seamless (though actually for me it was). This is a literary mystery where the plot and characters are more cared for by the author and ultimately make for an entirely satisfying read, much like McGovern's Eye Contact. Betsy Treading, the main character, is searching to understand the surfacing truths about her neighbors and truths in her own life which are no longer safe to ignore. She's looking for a murderer but in very courageous and atypical ways she's also looking to become a better person than she was. This is great mystery because it's also a magnifying look at parts of our human condition on a neighborhood scale. Loved it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a treat for all mystery or thriller lovers. Librarian Betsy Treading is convicted for the murder of her eccentric neighbor but then freed on DNA evidence after twelve years in prison. She must find the real killer to get restitution from the state. Returning to her old street and questioning her former neighbors, she finds herself forced to confront her own and their secrets and painful memories. The book dances deftly between present and past as Betsy both learns and comes to remember more and more of what happened on the night of the murder. In the end she begins to grasp the truth behind the facades both she and others have hidden behind for so long and to carve out a new life for herself beyond prison walls. The many themes and twists will keep the reader guessing until the end.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is a very satisfying read and is written very intelligently. True, the main character is a woman who had been found guilty of a murder 12 years ago and was dubbed "The Librarian Murderess". Now dna evidence proves that she did not commit the crime to which she confessed. She is released and the only place for her to go is to stay with neighbors who were close to her at the time of the crime. There is much action and many red herrings but we follow the entire process through the mind of our main character Betsy Treading. She is a complex character. She grew up in a troubled family with a father who suffered severe mental illness. She also has a sleep walking illness thet fills her mind with much amnesia and blocked memories. She finds that there are many secrets and unanswered questions behind the doors of the neighborhood and as she works to try and figure out who actually committed the murder of odd ball neighbor Linda Sue Murphy we get introduced to many diverse characters.

All characters are very real and three dimensional and this novel reads deeper than your average thriller for though it is about a crime the real mysteries revealed are those that are behind the surface of all people. As memories come back and different facts are discovered Betsy continues to become even more complex. The book takes your standard neighborhood in which many families wish to live and definitely says - be careful what you wish for. How all the lives in the neighborhood are intertwined is revealed in a suspenseful, page turning way. So though advertised as a thriller I would rather call this a a psychological profile for that is the process in which the mystery unfolds. The story is far deeper and heartfelt than your average thriller. These are characters you will feel like you know when you are finished and to follow the journey of knowledge with Betsy is a trip you will not soon forget.
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Format: Hardcover
I certainly guess I'm in the minority, but I did not like this book at all. In the first place, I can't believe that Betsy was sent to prison when there was really no evidence at all to convict her. Everything else was also unbelievable--from her meeting of Leo to the science experiments gone awry. Some of the characters seemed to be just "thrown" into the plot to cause some distractions. I had to force myself to finish because I kept looking for the 5 star reviews that other people gave it. Just goes to show that we all have different tastes.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Neighborhood Watch is a good, not great, complex psychological mystery that has many layers. While I did like the book, I didn't find it to be a page-turner or nail-biter. The book does an excellent job, however, of showing how little we really know about people we think we know very well and see on a daily basis. It also shows that we don't always know how others perceive us or if our own perceptions of ourselves is correct. Deep stuff all around and overall McGovern handled the subject matter well.

I did wish that Betsy would've been less vague as a character. I know her vagueness in many areas was essential to her character and the plot, but I admit to wanting to shake her and say stand up for yourself and go find out who did this awful thing. I also found it hard to believe that someone just out of prison for murdering a neighbor would go back to stay in the neighborhood at all. It felt contrived, but, again, this was essential to the book's development.

As for the ending, I will admit to wondering early in the book if the true murderer was who it did turn out to be. Still, I personally found the revelation left a lot to be desired, but it did show just how mentally unstable Betsy was before she went to prison.

If you're looking for a high-drama, fast-paced action book, this won't be the book for you. I am glad I read it, though, and will probably look into other books by this author.
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