Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Book Review and Giveaway: I See You
After last year’s triumphant I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh has banished any fears of a sophomore slump with her second rock-solid thriller, I See You. While I Let You Go featured very specific characters and played on reader expectations to pull off a twist, I See You twists everyday characters in the most ordinary of situations – the daily commute – to show that danger can be hidden in plain sight. Ironically, what keeps the book from a completely satisfying ending is that Mackintosh fulfills reader expectations rather than subverting them in the end.
Londoner Zoe Walker has an ordinary life, a single mum living with two young adult children and her new boyfriend. Her day is punctuated by her commute to work, most of which takes place on the Tube. Reading the London Gazette one afternoon, Zoe is struck by her resemblance to a grainy photo of a woman in an ad for a dating site. When her boyfriend Simon pooh-poohs the resemblance, she thinks nothing of it, and other women’s pictures show up in future advertisements. Then Zoe recognizes one of the women – she’s been the victim of a crime. Is it just a coincidence, or is she next?
Zoe goes to the police, and the only one who takes her seriously is detective Kelly Swift, who becomes the second point-of-view character in the novel. (The third is the italicized voice of the bad guy.) Kelly’s been on probation for beating up a rape suspect (clearly, we’re not in America here) and eager to prove herself. Her motivation is also personal – her twin sister Lexie was raped in college; Lexie’s fears of being stalked weren’t taken seriously, and her rapist was never found.
Zoe and Kelly’s detective work uncover a website called FindTheOne.com, where high-paying members purchase the details of women’s commutes. Zoe’s picture was lifted from her own Facebook page. As Kelly and her colleagues work to discover the site’s administrator and clients, Zoe faces danger every time she steps out of her home. Is the man on the train staring at her, or just staring into space? As women on the site are raped and murdered, Zoe knows her days could be numbered. She begins suspecting everyone around her, even her daughter Katie’s new boyfriend.
Mackintosh does an outstanding job ratcheting up the tension as the walls figuratively close in on Zoe. A modern novel, the book exploits our current dependency on technology as well as London’s mass surveillance under its CCTV system. (Estimates put one camera for every 32 people in the U.K.) But even with all this technology, no one is truly safe. Cameras can record a crime, but they cannot prevent one. The author’s background in detective work also shines through as Kelly doggedly pursues leads and works within the system.
The book does have two weaknesses, though – a slow beginning that concentrates on the mundane stresses of Zoe’s daily life before she puts the clues together, and an ending that fulfills tropes about the murder mystery genre in a book that should have subverted them completely. While the climax itself is compelling and utilizes the established technology in a unique but very fitting way, there is a specific aspect of the book’s ending that will disappoint readers.
The epilogue, however, is chilling.
With the Kelly character, Mackintosh has enough left over for a sequel or even a series. Although readers may have had enough of Zoe’s family by the ending, Mackintosh hints their story might not be over. But Kelly’s future is bright, and I hope we haven’t seen the last of her.
While most books with issues usually have problems in the middle, I See You offers a solid midsection while faltering somewhat in the beginning and ending. Still, these stumbles are not enough to keep the book from being engaging. Readers who enjoyed I Let You Go should pick up I See You. Others may find the ending more satisfying than I did.
Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.
We have one set of I Let You Go and I See You to give away!
How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.
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Giveaway ends February 27th at midnight EST.