Author: Clare Mackintosh
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: July 28, 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (3.5 stars)
It all starts during her commute home one night. Zoe Walker glances through her local paper and sees her own face staring back at her in a classified ad. With the grainy photo is a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.
In the following days, she sees other women in the same ad, a different one every day, and nearly all of them show up in the newspapers as victims of increasingly violent crimes–including murder.
With the help of a determined cop, Zoe uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…And suddenly, the man on the train sitting across the car–the one smiling at Zoe–could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…
Routine is comforting to you. It’s familiar, reassuring. Routine makes you feel safe.
Routine will kill you.
I was impressed by Clare Mackintosh’s shocking debut I Let You Go when I belatedly read it for the first time not long ago, and then it seemed everywhere I looked I was met with mixed reviews for her follow up novel, I See You, and her upcoming third novel, Let Me Lie. I still wanted to give them both a shot, but at the end of the day, “mixed” is probably the best word to describe my feelings for her second book.
I See You‘s greatest strength is in its realism. The women in this book are targeted because they’ve fallen into routine and grown too trusting in their surroundings – and isn’t that something we’re all a little guilty of? The chilling message is simply that you never know who’s watching, and there’ll be moments reading when goosebumps will crawl up your arms. I know I certainly won’t be viewing public transit the same way again.
Mackintosh has a signature writing style that works well for what she’s trying to accomplish. The chapters bounce back and forth between two different perspectives, progressing the plot from both sides. Zoe Walker is the victimized civilian telling the story in first person, and Kelly Swift is the determined investigator trying to solve the case from a third person perspective. I See You also has the unnerving addition of an unknown third “narrator” from the start, whose motives slowly unfold over the course of the story.
Where in I Let You Go I appreciated the civilian’s chapters much more than the law enforcement’s, I felt that this time it was the other way around: Kelly Swift has something to prove after a tragedy in her past affected her ability to do her job. She’s determined to see this case through and seek redemption in the process. While some of her insistence to defy orders irritated me, I genuinely enjoyed her character development, relationship with her fellow officers, and how the case helped her come to terms with her past.
I had a harder time liking Zoe Walker, but it’s not entirely her fault. I See You got off to an admittedly slow start. Zoe’s claims seem outlandish and paranoid whenever she tries to share them, and it isn’t until a hundred or so pages in that anyone’s taking her seriously. Unfortunately, that portion of the book only served to make me grow somewhat frustrated with her character as I waited for the plot to pick up. It’s definitely a tricky line to straddle when one of the lead characters has access to more resources than the other, and Mackintosh doesn’t quite achieve convincing me to like both. That said, I did find Zoe’s relationships with her family, especially with her ex-husband and daughter, to be one of the stronger parts of the novel.
The pacing picks up towards the end when the pieces start falling into place. Mackintosh is great at throwing in red herrings, all too believable because of Zoe’s increased paranoia, and I didn’t see the whodunnit coming until the last possible moment.
Despite my misgivings, I did enjoy I See You. The ending was fast-paced and twisty, and I loved the focus on the relationships between characters even when I was irritated with the characters themselves. This one’s a solid 3.5 stars for me, but you’ll still catch me tuning back in for Clare Mackintosh’s upcoming novels!