Just Watch Me by Jeff Lindsay [7/10]

Famous for the Dexter series, Jeff Lindsay now turns his attention, beginning with “Just Watch Me,” to a hero as equally unlikely and theoretically repulsive, namely Riley Wolfe, a juggernaut robber, a thief who can parkour across roofs, defeat any security system, and engage in elaborate disguises. In his debut outing, Riley accepts the challenge of heisting a mega jewel on show in New York. Much of the book is the fascinating unraveling of Riley’s tactics. As a counterfoil, we follow in the footsteps of an FBI agent patiently tracking Riley, in particular unpicking his murky past, in scenes welcome for a freshness of perspective. Lindsay is a zesty writer, not afraid to switch points of view and time periods while he presents the unvarnished Riley Wolfe (this man is not, repeat, not nice) in an unhurried fashion that paradoxically aroused this reader’s sympathies. (Is that how Dexter became kind of lovable? I don’t recall the first few books in the series.) The climax of “Just Watch Me” is a frenetic flurry of revelations and triumphs that seems both movie-ready but also subtly clever. Look, if I lay it on the line, this novel can read like pure-James-Patterson-plot-and-nothing-else but it worked at a second level on me, and I’ll be returning for Riley Wolfe #2.

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