Blue helmets and blurred lines
While Nobody is Watching delves into the dark world of PTSD and a battle scarred soldier struggling to find a place in her new world.
[ About the Book ]
A semi-inflated football and a curious little girl.
They called it peacekeeping. For Corporal Lindsey Ryan it was anything but.
It’s been three years since that bright day in the Golan Heights and the explosion which killed two and changed the survivors forever.
Now Lindsey deals with the many problems of the city’s troubled youth, to distract her from her own. But as damp days turn to night the kids return home, or somewhere like it, and she returns to her own private war. One that exists solely for her.
Certain that she’s being watched and certain that she’s losing her mind, Lindsey battles with the demons of post traumatic stress, while a very real threat edges ever closer until she finds herself face to face with someone who wants nothing more than to finally help her to die.
And it’s the last person she ever could have seen coming.
[ My Review ]
While Nobody is Watching by Michelle Dunne was published with BAD PRESS iNK 27th June 2020. It is set in Cork City and described as an ‘urban Irish feminist psychological thriller features a female Irish army veteran suffering from PTSD. Stalker meets military veteran, and her ex-service dog Frank in a side of Ireland that few see.’
Lindsey Ryan returned from a tour of duty with PTSD following a harrowing event out on patrol in the Golan Heights. Left with life long scars, both physical and emotional, Lindsey has now left the army and works with the disenfranchised in the heart of Cork City. On a daily basis Lindsey deals with children and teenagers from troubled homes encompassing all the pain and anger that comes with them. Lindsey treats these youths with respect and a willingness to listen and in some cases she has success but more often than not it is a constant uphill battle with red tape and with families that are beyond help. Tenacious and tough Lindsey evokes calmness and a sense of control but, underneath it all, Lindsey still struggles with flashing nightmares and images from that dreadful day three years previously when her life changed forever. Michelle Dunne is ex-army, having spent time in the Lebanon, thus bringing her own personal experiences and knowledge to Lindsey’s story which add a great depth to her character. It all feels very convincing. Michelle wrote a character piece about Lindsey Ryan for my blog a few months back which you can read in full HERE giving us all a wonderful insight into Lindsey’s makeup
‘She doesn’t feel she deserves a so called “better life”. They were meant for people who were dealt a bad hand through no fault of their own, like the kids that she worked with. They deserved so much better and the soldier in her refused to stand back and watch the injustices that were served up to them. Without drawing attention to herself, Lindsey will stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, all the while trying to protect her solitary existence. This new role in life was possibly the only thing keeping her from dying, by her own hand or someone else’s.‘
Lindsey unleashes her anger by running through the streets of Cork City at night time, through dark alleys and passing the homeless, the forgotten, the addicts, the lost causes. Lindsey doesn’t fear for herself during these nightly excursions. She runs to a boxing gym in the city centre, from her home on the outskirts, and does a session with the punch bag, letting off frustration and the dark emotions sweeping through her system. But aside from the normal feelings of being agitated and unsettled, Lindsey is now well and truly annoyed. Someone has been leaving notes outside her home, threatening notes, and Lindsey has no clue as to who is doing it.
Choosing to deal with the instigator of these notes herself, Lindsey decides to stay quiet and see what unfolds keeping a watchful eye open at all times. Not one to look for help, Lindsey is a lone-ranger and exposing a weakness is not in her makeup. But these notes are impacting Lindsey. She is noticeably more jumpy at work and her colleagues are concerned for her well being. When things get a little out of hand, the police are eventually notified but the reasons for the threats are very unclear.
Author Cathy Kelly called Michelle Dunne ‘the real deal’ and I would have to agree. The characters, the locations, the atmosphere are all very vivid bringing the story alive to the reader. Lindsey Ryan is a great protagonist with a gutsy attitude but we also get a glimpse under the shell of the guilt she carries on her shoulders. All the individual players in this tale are all wonderfully cast and Michelle Dunne excels at imparting the compassionate nature of humanity. As Lindsey tries to be a one-woman army, she is forced to realise that she has people in her life who care dearly for her, some new friends and some old. In the midst of it all is her loyal companion and ex-service dog Frank. He is her stalwart, her partner in life and at times the only thing that gets Lindsey moving on any given day. Her work colleagues are incredibly depicted with personalities that just ooze out of the pages. Now I know I’m from Cork, and therefore rather biased, but Michelle Dunne has them all nailed.
Lindsey Ryan is a loner skirting society, avoiding people and any personal relationships. Her scars from the Golan Heights have caused her much anguish and pain but the guilt sits in her craw unwilling to let go its hold on her. These threatening messages shake her up more than she is willing to reveal but when things start to get real personal, Lindsey finds herself way in over her head. Exposing her vulnerable side does not come easy to Lindsey and when the reality of her situation comes crashing in, Lindsey finally might just need some help.
While Nobody is Watching is a realistic and compelling tale, one that leaves the reader gunning for Lindsey Ryan. Each individual character, even Frank the dog, is authentic in every way making this a book that, although fiction, felt true. Disturbing and, at times, heart-breaking While Nobody is Watching is also a very thought-provoking and poignant read, one I highly recommend. Hopefully this is the launch pad for a new series featuring the spunky, stubborn and very credible Lindsey Ryan.
**While Nobody is Watching will soon be publishing Stateside with Polis Books and here is a peek of the US Cover.
[ Bio ]
Michelle was one of those sporty types growing up, all bony elbows and knees, and as she lived on an island, it stood to reason she’d spend her first couple of decades taking in the salty, seaweedy air at the local rowing club (not the serene looking, posh rowing, but the other kind, undertaken by hardy fishermen).
This was where she learned just about everything she ever needed to know about anything. They brought home the County’s, All-Ireland’s were won, but the banter on the bus was always the real prize. From there it made sense that she’d leave town and join another club/asylum and found herself wearing a blue helmet somewhere in South Lebanon.
She’d become attached to the UN, but more importantly, to B-Company, the boldest, brightest, bravest the Irish army had to offer. She called them lots of other names too, but only to their faces. As tracer rounds lit up the sky above her and artillery rained down, she learned the words of every patriotic Irish song ever written and how to smile, laugh, and joke about things that would otherwise have you curled in a ball, rocking back and forth in the corner of the room.
While Nobody is Watching is Michelle’s third book, which draws from her military experiences and the types of relationships that form within its ranks.
Twitter – @NotDunneYet
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