WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS. For a relatively spoiler-free post see my original review.
There have been quite a few requests for an explanation of the ending of Watching You, and in particular the owner of the hair so here’s my take. Right up to the end of the book it is maintained that Genevieve Hart kills herself, as a result of the appalling bullying she endured from Nikki Lee and her sidekicks. The local paper report concludes
…Miss Hart left no note, and had cut off her hair with a pair of scissors shortly before taking her own life
Tom Fitzwilliam will have been aware of that newspaper report. So when Freddie presents him with the bunch of hair he finds in his mother’s boxes, Fitzwilliam realises that this places Nikki at least shortly before Viva’s death. Indeed, his reaction suggests that he concludes that this was no suicide but that his late wife must have murdered Viva.
Now as readers we may have already come up with the conclusion that Viva was murdered by Nikki, but in placing the revelation here Jewell does a number of things. First, she makes it clear that Tom Fitzwilliam took the newspaper reports at face value. He did not know for sure what Nikki had done, which means she lied to him, or he did not ask. Second, she invites us to think about what kind of person would keep that kind of trophy. When placed alongside the epilogue letter it seems to suggest that she is siding with Nikki’s murderer.
If you have a different theory, I’d be glad to hear, so leave a comment below.