Zoe Walker is just like every other London commuter. Mother to two grown children and Admin Manager for one demanding commercial estate agent, all she wants at the end of a day is to get home to her family and to fulfil the obligation of every London native of avoiding any physical or eye contact with fellow commuters. Finally able to get a seat, Zoe buries her head in an abandoned newspaper, quickly scanning every article several times.
In desperation, with a good commute still ahead of her, she turns her attention to the classifieds. What she finds there stuns her. An advert for some kind of dating agency. Perhaps not shocking in itself but what does surprise her is that she recognises the woman whose picture graces the page. The picture is grainy, the advert vague, but Zoe is in no doubts whatsoever that she knows the woman in the picture. Because the woman is her.
Taking the paper home to show her family, they quickly dismiss her fears, telling her it is just someone who looks like her. That everyone is said to have their doppelganger somewhere in the world and this woman is hers. Zoe reluctantly agrees, but something still doesn’t feel right to her. When she finds another paper with the same ad but a different picture, she thinks that maybe her family were right. But as strange things start to happen to Zoe, could it be that there was more to the advert than a coincidental likeness?
‘I See You’ is a twisting psychological thriller of the highest quality. Having read ‘I Let You Go’ I knew that Clare Mackintosh was a brilliant writer and, with ‘I See You’, she has proven once again how true this is.
It’s hard to say too much about the book as to do so would probably involve some level of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet. What I will say is that the setting, something so seemingly mundane as the daily commute, is absolutely perfect and adds a certain dimension of jeopardy to the tale itself. I travel to London a lot, and I never once give thought to who may be watching or, other than the usual pickpockets etc, what dangers may be present in among the crowds. I’ll certainly be paying attention now, and I’m thankful I travel mostly by car. I’m already highly suspicious of motorway service stations…
There is a really diverse group of characters in ‘I See You’. Firstly seemingly down to earth mom, Zoe, whose increasingly paranoid behaviour is so well crafted that you wonder how much of what is happening is just in her mind. Then you have her two children; Justin, who has never quite got his life together and works in a café with their neighbour Melissa, and Katie, an aspiring actress who seems oblivious to the dangers around her. There is Zoe’s partner, Simon, who seems perfect on the surface and yet seems to be hiding something, and then Zoe’s ex, Matt, who seems unable to really let Zoe go.
On the other side of the story you have British Transport Police officer Kelly Swift who has a cloud hanging over her and her career after making a mistake with a suspect. Passionate about her job, and defensive of her family, Kelly is an officer who makes mistakes, but isn’t afraid to put herself out there and take chances. You can respect her, even if her methods are sometimes questionable. And then you have DI Nick Rampello, who I wasn’t entirely sure of to begin with as he seemed a tad arrogant, and yet I think her grew on me, mainly because he stuck by Kelly when a lesser boss many have thrown her under a bus for some of the stunts she had pulled.
The way in which the story is written, the very ordinary nature of the lives of those involved, make it all the more compelling. It is a psychological thriller at its best. The gradual wearing down of Zoe’s nerves, the threat which is implicit at every stage of the investigation, the way in which it touches upon the darker side of the internet and dating sites – all very believable and highly topical in a world in which more of our lives are lived on line. As is highlighted at one stage in the story, when was the last time you checked your Facebook privacy settings? If you haven’t looked lately, you will when you’ve finished reading this book. Add in the creepy narrative from the person behind the adverts – someone who seems to have no conscience and sees only the opportunity in front of them, whose base lack of concern for others is enough to make your skin crawl – and you know you have a winner.
And let me tell you this – no matter what you think you know, you will not see the ending coming. Bloomin’ heck. It was a doozy. Heart in the mouth, edge of the seat kind of tension (it would have been quite literally so if I hadn’t been driving and listening to the audio book). Trust me when I say, I sat in the car outside of the house for ten minutes listening to it before daring to move, and then dashed to switch to kindle to read the final couple of chapters. And then – wow – it’s over. But no. It’s not because, bosh, Clare Mackintosh hits you again. Class. Absolute class.
I thought ‘I Let You Go’ would be hard to beat but this was stonkingly good. A chilling, creepy, keep-your-wits-about-you 5 stars from me.