Book Review: When No One is Watching

09.01.2020 | William Morrow
Rating: 5/5 stars


Sydney Green was born and raised in her Brooklyn neighborhood of Gifford Place. It seems that things are changing before her eyes. For sale signs are popping up overnight, condos are spreading like wildfire, and the people and parts of Gifford Place that Sydney holds dear are vanishing. In order to make sense of what she feels is happening, Sydney partakes in a walking tour of her neighborhood where she meets an unlikely and largely unwanted new friend, Theo. This man, with a strange interest her quest for more information, also happens to be her new neighbor. As the duo dig deeper into their new neighbors and the recent disappearances of beloved residents, what they find will instill fear and paranoia. Can they trust each other? 


WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING is a timely thriller about social unrest under the guise of an intense and rapid gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood. Sydney has noticed that white people are moving in and taking over Gifford Place at an alarmingly rapid rate. While this may be a work of fiction, the process of gentrification is all too real in places like this New York neighborhood. The reality of gentrification moving out populations from their homes to make room for wealthy, largely white populations is all too real across America.

Alyssa Cole has truly mastered the ability to write suspense. I was glued to the pages of this book, constantly eager to know what would happen to Sydney or Theo as they investigated the happenings in Gifford Park. Cole’s writing isn’t in your face or overly flashy. Instead there is a classic noir element of darkness and danger lurking that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The pacing of this story also aids in helping to slowly build unease. This isn’t a rapid-fire thriller, but it’s certainly not a slow burn either. There was a nice balance of suspense, tension, and backstory to keep me guessing until the very end. 


I don’t often spotlight a character in my review, but there is no way I could close this out without talking about Kim. Holy hatred! Sadly, I’m not able to say I don’t know a Kim or haven’t witnessed one out in the wild. I have never wanted to punch someone in the face more! The reality of people like Kim existing in this world is terrifying all on it’s own.

This is a hard one to talk about without giving away any of the great details hidden throughout the book. If you’re looking for something to keep you glued to the pages, but also contains smart social commentary, this is the book for you!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

A huge thank you to William Morrow for my gifted copy!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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