Cover Image: When No One Is Watching

When No One Is Watching

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Member Reviews

I was a little surprised by this book. I was expecting an intense thriller, but instead got a slower, more culture-packed story. I really enjoyed those aspects of the story, as it addresses racism very eloquently. It just wasn't quite what I was expecting going in, since this had been categorized as a thriller. Overall, a very solid read though.
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(Grumble. Grumble.) I received an ARC of this, started it, got bored early on, and bailed. In trying to clear out my NetGalley backlog, I found the audiobook on Hoopla. At 50%, I was still bored and wanted it to be over. At 65%, I wasn’t emotionally invested but was starting to be curious about what was coming and how things would end, and I wanted answers. At 80%, I was completely sucked in, horrified by the turn of events, and invested. On the surface, this is about the gentrification of a predominantly Black neighborhood in Brooklyn, but the full truth is so much darker. A begrudging 4 stars for a clever, if very slow burn thriller.
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I really thought this was going to be a 5⭐️ book for me while reading the first 2/3 of it. The premise is so interesting and the author does a great job of making the reader care about all the characters. I felt outraged on behalf of Sydney and her neighbors. I didn't mind that the "thriller" part of the book took a while to show up. The last 3rd of the book just didn't really work for me. I have some questions about the ending.  I could have done without the body part descriptions in the sex scene. 🙈 I guess some people are into that level of detail.
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Suspenseful novel where readers will keep guessing the motives of characters and what is really happening. Theo and Sydney seem like opposites and both have secrets. Sydney’s trauma makes her sympathetic while also causing a reader to wonder what is reality or fiction in her mind and community.   Although it is a social horror, there is an amorous scene in a strangers to friendly neighbors to lovers subplot. A fast-paced, creepy page-turner. 

3.5 rounded up to 4.0


Thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for the e-galley.  I listened to the audiobook for this review.  My reviews and ratings are my own. 

Spoiler Alert:

CW:
gentrification; unlawful police activity; gaslighting; gun (on page); racial slurs; illness; grief; emotional abuse; sexual harassment (mentioned);  death of a parent; alcohol use; unlawful and nonconsensual experimentation
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I'm a fan of Alyssa Cole's romances so I knew I had to read this one! This was an engaging, fast-paced thriller and a super quick read. I'm impressed!
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Gentrification in a Brooklyn Neighborhood as a setting for mystery.  While the premise was interesting, the execution did not work for me.  I liked the pacing and the characters but the ending felt rushed and out of place.
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I was expecting a very different read from the description of this.  I would not call it a thriller but it does have you questioning what is real and what was not.  I enjoyed the storyline spotlighting racial tensions over home/land ownership and corporate manipulation to rid certain types of people calling it gentrification.  It was heartbreaking and sadly, realistic. The gentrification and revitalization is just a pretty word for screwing over the poor and minorities. This is a book that forces you to look at what Black people and native people have endured for centuries, and is a real eye opener. Only, negative was the rushed unrealistic action packed ending.  Overall, I still really enjoyed Alyssa Cole's unique story with the great historical details.
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I enjoyed this book in the beginning but then it went off the rails. I appreciate the premise and message but didn't love how it ended.
It was worth a read, though.
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I am not typically a fan of thrillers so I had interest in reading this as a horror. This explains my confusion and annoyance when the book read much more as a thriller than a horror and is the primary reason why I did not care much for the story. The tone of examining gentrification in this way also did not feel impactful, though I realize I may not be the primary audience for this book.
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Alyssa Cole! Romance queen and now thriller star. It takes such skill to master multiple genres, and Cole does.
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Gentrification! As someone who lives in the suburbs of Buffalo I am all too familiar with the concept. Since the building of the downtown Medical Corridor, the property values of the former Fruit Belt (all the streets have names of fruit such as Grape and Peach) have gone up in this minority community who have lived in this neighborhood for years. Difficult decisions must be made as professionals who are interested in living near where they work have become interested in this prime location. (Parking is a major issue, too.)While interest in the city has grown with the development of the waterfront and the revitalization of abandoned properties, to get to these desirable spots often means driving through the ghetto or using the parkway which was built in the middle of a black community, dividing it in half. While I applaud making the city more attractive, I worry about those who are now displaced. 

That basically is the theme of When No One Is Watching which takes place in the Gifford Park neighborhood of Brownstones in walking distance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York (an area I am familiar with since I lived near that location for ten years in my youth). Alyssa Cole explores the ramifications of gentrification in her novel giving us a little historical background about the beginnings of Brooklyn, then taking this concept to the next level. What if the people who covet your home could make their own rules? How far would they go to take over the neighborhood?

Our main character, Sydney Green, has moved back home after living in San Francisco. The close knit community is changing right under her nose as neighbors and stores seem to disappear overnight. After taking a guided tour which highlighted white achievements, she decides to develop her own walking tour with a focus on the people who inhabit the historically black neighborhood where she has lived since childhood. Her goal is to initiate the tour at the upcoming block party but when her helper suddenly goes south to visit his grandparents, she reluctantly finds a willing partner in the new neighbor who has moved in across the street. Since Theo is not only white, but clueless, they come up with a signal, “Howdy Doody”, to indicate when he is being insensitive. They each have their own set of secrets which ultimately affect the outcome of the book.

While Cole’s plotline is kind of over the top, there is some truth to corporate greed and the way they maneuver people to go against their own best interests so that they can make “another“ buck. It is true that the neighborhoods in Brooklyn turn over at regular intervals. My old neighborhood was once Jewish/Catholic, then Hispanic, and the last I heard it favored the Arab population.  Whether or not this book can be considered a thriller or borders on science fiction, I’ll leave up to the reader to decide. It has, however, the perfect ending if someone decides to make a movie version. 

The audio read by Susan Dalian and Jay Aaseng enhances the storyline.

Three stars and a thank you to NetGalley for providing both the written and audio versions of this book. 

This review can also be found on Goodreads and my blog Gottaread.
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This book did not appeal to me at all. It is about a neighborhood in Brooklyn and a black woman who grew up there. It was very slow moving.
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When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole is a thriller based on the gentrification of Brooklyn, New York. It tells of what it’s like living there before  and how things start to change. There is so much corrupt happenings taking place to both the residents and their properties. This particular story did not really hold my interest or grab me until about 70% in to the book. That’s when it got a little exciting because the residents decided to take back what was theirs. I do believe the author must have done a lot of research before writing this because it sounded like all of this was entirely possible and probably occurs places. Although I feel it was a well written story, it was just one that wasn’t all that interesting to me. Because of this I have only given it a 3 star rating. I’m sure other readers will feel much differently about it. I’d like to thank the Scene of the Crime Early Read Program, Sam Glatt, marketing assistant at HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review the arc.
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I don’t ever rate a book this low but this one was just not deserving much higher. The language was just awful and just to hard to get beyond!
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This book starts out a bit slow but it does build up to a spectacular ending. The protagonist is Sydney Green. She is Brooklyn born and bred. She notices that the homes in her home are being sold in record numbers. The home owners suddenly leave without saying goodbye to anyone. Sydney thinks this is odd so she decides to do an investigation. As she investigates she comes across some disturbing information that leads her to believe there is some conspiracy involved. Of course, she starts doubting herself and wonders is she is just being paranoid. The truth is not revealed until the end.
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Gender bending/identity crisis? Thriller + romance + historical fiction. It's informative, packed with historical context and information, but it felt like the pacing was odd and like it wasn't sure what it was trying to be.
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I loved getting spooked out by this book! A great blend of social themes and horror. Cole has branched out successfully from romance.
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I was so surprised by this book! Its very socially relevant and some pieces made it almost seem like it was primarily historical fiction.
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I love the author's writing style. however, I did not see the book as a thriller.. It was perplexing in that it was not an easy read, but it was difficult to put down.  It was not what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. Still trying to figure out why it was labeled as a thriller.
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I'm a big fan of Alyssa Cole's romance novels, so of course, I was interested when I heard she was releasing a mystery suspense. This book is "scary" in the way that Jordan Peele's film, "Get Out" is scary... it could happen. It's that real kinda scary, which I happen to love! 

Now that I've read Alyssa's romances and mysteries, I'm wondering what she CAN'T write. 😅

⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5
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