Revealing in the opening pages of a novel that your characters have a secret and then keeping that secret from readers for 250 pages is a challenging way to set up a thriller. The author runs the risk that each subsequent mention of the secret—particularly by first person narrators who are otherwise fairly forthcoming — will frustrate readers.
While Camilla Way doesn’t entirely avoid this problem in her new novel, “Watching Edie,” she does handle the structure deftly. Importantly, her narrators, Edie and Heather, make it very clear in the early going that the secret at the center of their intertwined story is something neither wants to relive. Edie narrates from a time many years after the pivotal incident while Heather narrates the period immediately prior to the trauma. Neither can easily face the moment that links them together.
Way also earns her readers’ forbearance by delivering a well-earned twist in the run up to the final revelation. “Watching Edie” is deftly structured, and Way offers plenty of misdirection without unduly complicating her story. That lack of additional complication is important in a novel that offers intricacy in the structuring of its narrative. Certainly, the back and forth storytelling is a fairly straightforward device in and of itself, but the story Way spins out from two disparate moments in time provides plenty of mystery and suspense.
“Watching Edie” is a story of the limits of friendships, the nature of trust and the aftermath of trauma. Way’s story is dark, though a tentative promise of redemption drives the final passages of the book.