Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Watchers - Jon Steele

The Watchers
The Angelus Trilogy, Book One
Jon Steele

There are hundreds of lines of causality.  It happens every moment of every day, all around us.  This moment creates circumstances that lead to the next moment. All of them, taken together, lead to an event in the next week or month or century.  Hundreds or thousands of tiny moments, all taken in sequence, lead to a meeting of three people in the Lausanne Cathedral.  Jay Harper, an investigator with his own issues, is in Switzerland working for the Olympic Committee.  Katherine Taylor, a transplanted American, is working as a high-priced prostitute.  And Marc Rochat is le guet: he calls the hour from the belfry of the Cathedral, as someone has done every night for centuries on end. 
It seems highly unlikely that these three should ever meet.  A good deal of the story is devoted to the time before their meeting.  All those bits of causality that may seem meaningless at the time, but that serve to bring them together for a serious event.  Marc, with his twisted leg, small stature, and limited intellectual capacity (he explains, “There was an accident when I was born.”) takes the duty of watching over Lausanne and its people very seriously.  He believes in what he does, and he knows that someday, a lost angel will come to the Cathedral, needing his help.  He’s very right about that.
This is the first in a trilogy, but is a complete story in itself.  I fell in love with Marc and his life in the Cathedral and the town.  Days after finishing the book, I still think about it (and him.)  Jay’s story is far different, and much more complicated in many ways.  Eventually we realize, along with him, that he really doesn’t remember much about his life before the call that brought him from London to Lausanne.  We make his journey with him, and the story is much the better for it.

The initial pages, a prologue of sorts, set the mood for everything that follows.  There’s a quiet, but ever-present tension that underlies everything that happens, even when it’s a ‘day in the life’ piece of narrative.  This quiet tension perfectly complements the serene setting, a place one character likens to living in a fairy tale.  Each time I opened the book, I fell under its spell again.  The last hundred or so pages kept me riveted long past bedtime, but there was absolutely no possibility of putting the book down at that point.  I’m quite glad that the second book is waiting for me.  While this story is complete, there are intimations of even bigger things to come.

Rating: 9 ½
April 2013
ISBN# 978-0-451-41679-7 (paperback)


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