BOOK REVIEW: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You by Clare MackintoshI See You
By: Clare Mackintosh

Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 28 July 2016
Format: Ebook, 384 pages
Source: NetGalley

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . . (Goodreads)DividerA novel that is sure to make us all paranoid on our daily travels, I See You by Clare Mackintosh takes the London underground and makes it a place of danger and suspicion, as you never know who is watching your every move.

The book begins with our protagonist, Zoe Walker taking her usual tube journey home after work and picking up a copy of the Evening Standard en route. By chance, she happens to turn to the classified section and is surprised to see her own photograph staring back at her from the chatline page. Even though the picture is blurred and unclear Zoe is certain it’s her, but the advert address of only yields a blank webpage. The attached phone number is also useless, so Zoe’s partner, Simon, encourages her to put it out of her mind and reminds her that it doesn’t necessarily look like her anyway.

Even so, Zoe can’t forget about it and contacts the police, which introduces us to police officer, Kelly. We can sense that Kelly has recently had some personal issues on the force which have left her posted to the British Transport Police rather than the serious crime that she craves to investigate. She has already been looking into a case whereby a woman has had her house keys stolen on the train but not her purse, and Zoe’s case seems to hold its own level of intrigue.

Certain that there is something sinister afoot, Zoe continues to pick up the Evening Standard, finding the same advert printed each day with a different woman’s photograph. When one of these women then turns up dead, Zoe is certain that these adverts are the key, and lives in fear that she will be next. As she fills Kelly in on the connection, the search eventually leads them to a twisted website where details of women’s commutes can be bought for a premium. With all these women in danger across London and all blissfully unaware, how will they find the next victim?

I have to say that I loved the concept of this book, as your daily commute is not normally something that you think about, and this plotline really makes you look over your shoulder and consider your routine. With the vast crowds normally found on the underground, anyone could be watching you at any given moment, and with your journey available to the highest bidder you never know who might be following you. It was this element that gave the book it’s chilling feel, with the suspense slowly increasing as Zoe became increasingly paranoid about anyone who might bump into her or look at her strangely on the tube.

As a character, I had mixed feelings about Zoe, as she seemed to jump to conclusions awfully quickly and it did seem a little unlikely that she would put together the pieces regarding the photos and the murdered women. She is convinced of the danger straightaway, and even starts her own investigative work rather than leaving it to the police. I admired how fiercely protective she was of her family, but even then we only get to see the bond between mother and daughter and her son is relatively ignored. She begins to suspect everyone, even in her own house, and her paranoia was reaching excessive levels by the end of the book.

Kelly was also a strange character to deal with, as she was keen to move up in the force and earn a place on the murder investigation team, yet at the same time she would abuse her position to try and track down information about a case her sister was involved in several years ago. She was very up and down, and it was hard to feel close to her as a character as she had a few too many secrets or hidden agendas. She was very single minded in her attempts to gain a place on the investigation team, and it seemed unlikely that she would be able to worm her way in as she did.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and thought the plotline of the website and selling commuter’s journeys to be very clever. However, I did have my issues with some of the characters and found it very hard to connect with them, particularly during more emotional scenes. I also had problems with the conclusion and how Mackintosh doesn’t quite tie up every loose end, supposedly to heighten the fear that the reader is left with upon turning the final page. I was gripped from the outset and would definitely recommend this book, but it doesn’t quite live up to the author’s stunning debut.

A thriller that puts your daily commute into perspective, this book will leave you questioning your routine and making subtle changes to your travel habits. In using such a simple, everyday activity as the basis for a mystery, Mackintosh heightens the psychological tension and creates danger at every turn. Although certain elements might appear unlikely, the foundation for the book is strong and the idea for the website is inspired, having never come across anything like it before. I strong follow-up novel to her debut, Claire Mackintosh is definitely one to watch.

4 star




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