Frank Silver is apartment-bound and suffering from severe agoraphobia. He spends much of his time observing the world outside his apartment, in particular, the Kabbalah Institute across the street. One Friday night he observes an attractive woman entering the institute, a place that is supposed to be closed at that time, and denied to women at all times. When he sees a second women enter the place a week later, and then learns that a prostitute’s body has been found in the sewer drain nearby, his suspicions are aroused—he knows that something evil is taking place, but he finds it difficult to convince an overworked homicide detective of that.
His persistence, and some amateur sleuthing on the part of his housekeeper, finally gets the detective to visit the institute, an action that will soon have dire consequences for Silver. Joseph Goodman, an eccentric Talmudic scholar with macabre leanings, had been evicted from the institute, but had secreted himself in one of its unused spaces, from which he pursued his deadly quest. When he inadvertently learns that Silver’s watching has threatened his haven, he vows revenge, and takes it by kidnapping Silver’s recently acquired girlfriend.
The Watcher Within by William Appel is noir fiction at its finest. Tension and suspense begins on the first page, and builds increasingly to an explosive climax as Silver must overcome his phobia in order to save his girlfriend’s life.
This one’s a typical Appel page-turner that, even though you know the killer’s identity from the start, has you wondering how it will turn out. The obstacles faced by the hero seem insurmountable, and on several occasions, you’re sure he’s hit a brick wall—then, he hits back. This is a book that takes the reader deep into the darkest depths of human depravity, a journey that will leave you breathless.
I give it five stars.