ARC Review – A Mystery Debut

The Water Tower by Amy Young

Publication Date: June 20, 2023

Summary from NetGalley:

Josie Ashbury was a successful Hollywood actress with a booming career—until an on-set breakdown sends her back to her small Ohio hometown to recover. Taking a job teaching at her old high school, Josie is beginning to put the pieces of her life back together when one of her students dies under suspicious circumstances. The police close the case quickly, without any real answers. Josie is determined to find the truth behind the girl’s death.

At the same time, Josie is battling demons of her own. As she faces debilitating insomnia that leaves her with gaps in her memory, she dives into the tangled secrets surrounding the investigation. When she finally unravels the web, she discovers that the truth lies much closer to home than she could have ever imagined.

ARC provided by Level Best Books via NetGalley for an honest review.


This book has some strengths, but it also has many weaknesses. The weaknesses, unfortunately got in the way of some of the strengths, but I see potential in this author and would certainly give her next book a chance.

First off the strengths:

The main plot of the story was quite good, even when it went off in a direction I wasn’t anticipating. The mystery was well done and had a nice surprise twist.

Josie was a likable character as were most of her friends that she hung out with. I liked that she suffered from insomnia, something I also struggle with, and felt that it was an honest portrayal of what it is like to live with that issue.

The setting was well done, you really feel like you are in a small town and all that that entails. The pacing was also good, just fast enough to keep me interested, but slow enough that I wasn’t overwhelmed.

The issues surrounding opioid addiction was handled sensitively while also stressing the importance of getting help for those who need it.

The weaknesses:

Josie’s motivation for wanting to solve what happened to her students was weak. Just because she liked them, didn’t feel honest enough for me. I wanted a bit more from that, like maybe her missing being a detective on the TV show. Or perhaps something in her past that is driving her to solve the mystery.

The dialogue, especially when a teenager was talking, had me cringing everytime. Teens, just, like, don’t really talk like that , like, you know? But even some of the conversations between adults was a bit stilted and awkward.

Even though I liked the plot, the twist at the end kind of came out of nowhere. There were no hints along the way that pointed to any character that we met having committed the murders and then bam, we have someone admitting to the crimes. The story seemed to be going one way and then went in a totally different direction.

The big reason that Josie was suffering from insomnia and the reason for her breakdown didn’t come up until almost the end of the book. It would have been nice to learn of this a bit earlier as it does account for some of her actions and speaks to the type of person she was.

Overall this wasn’t a bad book, I do see potential in this author’s work. I hope that this review isn’t too negative, and you should maybe give this book a chance as there were some really good things about. Also, some of the issues may be caught before publication and changed.

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