Published by Berkley Books on February 21st 2017
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Routine is comforting to you. It’s familiar, reassuring. Routine makes you feel safe. Routine will kill you.
A new thriller from the author of the bestseller I Let You Go. What would you do if you discovered a photo of yourself being used to advertise a business that you’d never heard of? Zoe is flipping through the newspaper during her evening commute when she spots a photo of herself in the classifieds section. It’s part of an ad for FindtheOne.com, a service she never signed up for. Zoe’s family assures her the photo is of someone who only vaguely resembles her. They try to convince her that there’s nothing to worry about, but she can’t shake the nagging feeling that something is wrong. She finds similar ads in other issues of the newspaper, each featuring a different woman. She’s shocked to recognize a couple of the women as victims of local crimes. Is it a coincidence or could she be next?
I see you. But you don’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills girl. The irony isn’t lost on me.
The story alternates between Zoe Walker’s personal life (first person) and PC Kelly Swift’s investigation (third person), with occasional interludes from a potential stalker (second person).
• Zoe is a single mom who lives with her devoted boyfriend and her two adult children. Her daughter is an aspiring actress and her son’s life is finally back on track after some youthful indiscretions. Zoe is dull, but we spend the most time with her character. Her rationalization of her ex-husband’s past behavior and her ill-advised antics annoyed me. There’s a lot of focus on her personal problems. While the lack of action in the first half did make me question whether Zoe’s paranoia was warranted, the focus on the banalities of her domestic life made the story feel slow-paced.
• Kelly takes an interest in the classified ads after Zoe alerts her to a possible connection to the case she’s been working on. Finding a connection between the classified ads and other crimes could help her redeem herself. Four years ago, she was demoted from the Sexual Offenses Team to the Neighborhood Policing Team. I loved Kelly’s passion for her profession and her protectiveness of her twin sister. She has a victim-focused approach to police work, but she also has issues getting too close to her cases. I was rooting for her! I wish Zoe and Kelly interacted more, because I would have liked to spend more time with her.
• The stalker’s sections are short, but unnerving. I love how Mackintosh writes sociopaths. It puts me on edge!
I wanted reassurance. I wanted to be told I was overreacting; paranoid; delusional. I wanted false promises and glasses-half-full. A few days ago I worried the police weren’t taking me seriously; now I’m worried because they are.
The creepiest parts take place in the claustrophobic London Underground. We never know who might be lurking around the corner, watching our every move, and waiting for the right moment to strike. The crowds and cameras in the tunnels lulled Zoe into complacency. There’s a false sense of security because there are so many potential witnesses, but everyone is caught up in their own lives and gadgets, oblivious to the world around them. The popularity of social media adds extra concerns. How much of the information we voluntarily publicize can be used against us? There’s also an important lesson about being vigilant and trusting your instincts. There are a few instances where women’s concerns are dismissed as paranoia or overreacting. They’re asked to ignore the clear evidence in front of them. This story shows how easy it can be to dismiss our own fears, either because of outside pressure or our own desire to feel safe. On the investigative side, Kelly has to question her approach towards victims. Is a victim under any obligation to assist the investigation? Should a victim be pressured to testify against their will?
“Offenders, coppers, witnesses, victims … there’s one common thread running through them all, Kelly, and it’s that no two people are the same. Every victim deals differently with what’s happened to them; some are hell-bent on revenge, others want justice, some are looking for closure, and some”—he looked her straight in the eye—“some just want to move on.”
I See You uses an exaggerated situation to remind us of the risks we might encounter in our everyday lives. The paranoia and anxiety increases as Zoe goes from being unsure if she has anything to worry about to feeling hunted. It’s an unsettling reminder to stay alert, trust your intuition, and be aware of your surroundings. Whether you like this one will depend on what you want out of your thrillers. My feelings for I See You are similar to my feelings for David Bell’s Since You Went Away. I tend to prefer investigations or sociopaths over the parenting of teenagers, but there are always exceptions! This book was entertaining and I suspected almost everyone at one point, but I didn’t feel like I was at the center of the action.