The Watchers

The Watchers by Jon Steele, The Angelus Trilogy #1

Beneath Lausanne Cathedral in Switzerland lies a secret buried before time began. A secret to angels and to men. A secret, that is, until now…

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives in a world of shadows and beforetimes and imaginary beings.

Katherine Taylor, call girl, is living the dream. But she is about to find out that her real-life fairy tale is far to good to be true.

Jay Harper, private detective, wakes in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he’s offered a job, he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives. One purpose. Save what’s left of paradise, before all hell breaks loose.

The Watchers is Jon Steele’s first book in The Angelus Trilogy, a mythical noir themed story that all start in the Lausanne Cathedral in Switzerland. Jon Steele has worked as an award-winning cameraman and editor for Independent Television News of London, for over twenty years. Having become disillusioned with the Iraq war Jon put his camera away and took up writing. With The Angelus Trilogy as a result.

It has been a while for me since I picked up a heaven and hell kind off story so once I was offered to review The Watchers and the sequel Angel City, I immediately said yes. What I have found out so far is that with these type of stories you’re always in for a surprise,  as each author bends this theme to his or her visions. And Jon Steele’s The Watchers is no exception. Jon Steel provides a very different and unique take on an angelic themed story.

The Watchers had me from the go. Eavery book has its own alluring sense and draws you in. The Watchers is really unique, somehow just from the first word of the book it felt really engrossing and I was readily absorbed into the story. From the start Jon Steele manages to create a rich atmosphere by setting this story down in Switzerland, taking the story to a completely different location then England or America did play on rising my curiosity especially with the promise of angels. Another thing that really makes The Watcher so absorbing is the way the story is written. It’s hard to explain but the way Jon Steele rights is just magical on its own. Using different points-of-view to highlight each of the characters that you follow, throwing in the occasional French words and sentence all worked towards the same goal, creating a rich and interesting story. What does fall to notice of The Watcher is that though it has it’s occurrence of angels and the supernatural, the book starts of not directly with a focus on this element, instead Jon Steele first invests a lot of time and effort into setting the story just right and telling a lot about each of the three characters (ill get to them in a second) and of the history behind the story. With taking his time to do this, Jon Steele managed to create a strong character driven book, but don’t assume that it’s all about the characters, as you will learn also learn much about the world itself, be it through the characters themselves.

The Watchers starts of with a prologue set during World War I. After this you are switched to the present day where you follow the stories of three characters. Marc Rochat, Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper. Each of them has been drawn to Lausanne but none of them really know why. Firstly there is Marc Rochat, Marc has been disabled by an accident during his birth and besides his limping, he isn’t that bright either. Marc has a job as a caretaker for the bells of the cathedral (think Quasimodo). From the characters I really like Marc’s the most. Since the story is being told from each of the perspectives of the characters you really saw how Marc perceives the world. Marc talks to the bells, referring to one bell as Mary Magdalena, but also talking to the statues on the belfry. Marc lives in his own world, when he has flashbacks to the past he refers to it as “beforetimes” and these flashback were neatly integrated that only after finishing it I knew that I was reading about one, which added something definite special to them. Though Marc is 21 years old, he does hold a young boyish attitude towards the world which makes you really want to care for him. Now whether Marc is just imagining these parts or that he really can talk to them and that they talk back, isn’t clear but this might just be for the better because it adds just a great something special to his character. Secondly there is Katherine Taylor who works for the Two Hundred Club, a special club for high rollers who like some entertainment on the side. Katherine has everything, money enough to live a life of true luxury. However as the story progresses she finds herself in situation she hasn’t thought of and that she might have been too naive when she got on board the Two Hundred Club. Lastly there is Jay Harper. Who has no idea as to how he got to Lausanne, he gets a call for a job that he cannot deny and is thrown into a series of murder investigations. Jay only knows that he likes to watch History Channel. All of these three characters have a very rich past that is explored to the fullest in the earlier chapters of the book and used as a foundation to build up a promising plot line in the end.

Now you might think that how can a story turn towards the supernatural with angels playing a role with this cast? Well Here you have to trust me. It will, but Jon Steele really manages to create his own special introduction and storyline around this aspect.

Like I mentioned above the supernatural aspect of the story really only kicks in at about two thirds of the book. In the beginning you have Marc living his life as the caretaker constantly on the look out for the angel that his mother said is about to pay a visit to the Cathedral. Katharine living her call girl life and Jay investigating a lead for the International Olympic Committee. And then its really like a door slamming down, a “waking you up kind off slam”. Everything is connected. With The Watcher being a character driven story telling more about how everything is connected would spoil the story too much, it is really something you have to experience for yourself. The lines between the natural and supernatural are really thin...

Jon Steele manages to create an amazingly rich, evocative and magical story with The Watchers. Lying in this first story the focus on a set of just as amazing characters that you really grow to care and feel for. By focussing the setting of the story onto the characters themselves and their history, Jon Steele really managed to absorb me into his story. The writing style of The Watchers is clear, crisp and very engrossing. The story line itself, though some might think it is linear and that there is not action in the beginning, feels like it is really building up towards a something. It first deals with a lot of the world itself and then like a slam Jon Steele throws you together with Marc, Katherine and Jay into a rapid towards the ending. The Watchers is a perfect blend of several themes: fantasy, science fiction and crime and detective. Jon Steele shows what is possible when the lines of the natural and supernatural starts to blur…

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