4 stars out of 5
If you're a person who follows a set routine day after day after day, this book likely will scare you into changing your ways long before you get to the end. For the rest of us, it's just another great book from the author of New York Times best-seller I Let You Go.
Like that one, I found it a bit hard to get into at the beginning. But by the time I finished a dozen chapters or so, I was hooked even though it's somewhat predictable in terms of format, with chapters that alternate from the points of view of two main characters and build up to a surprise ending. Well, make that sort of; there are a couple of surprises, but I guessed one of them early on and had an inkling in the back of my head about the other that turned out to be spot-on.
The setting is London, so readers will need to adjust to across-the-pond terms like "adverts" (advertisements),"takeaway" (carry-out food and drink) and "queing" (standing in line). That's something I thoroughly enjoy, by the way - I've got a London born-and-bred daughter-in-law, and I'm always looking for a word or phrase new to me to share with her (guaranteed to be good for a few shared chuckles).
Zoe Walker, one of the primary characters, is a creature of habit - taking the same trains and sitting in the same seat on her way to and from work every day. On her way home one night, she peruses the local paper as usual and sees something very much out of the ordinary: Her own photo in a classified ad listing for a website called FindTheOne.com. She's puzzled, of course; she's got two grown children, is divorced from a cheating husband, has a live-in significant other and zero interest in putting herself on the dating market. So how on earth did her picture get in there?
More than a little concerned, Zoe begins to follow ads in subsequent newspapers, finding a new female face each day. Then, she realizes some of these women have fallen victim to crimes ranging from theft to murder. Now, she's sure there's a connection - and that any minute now, she'll become a victim herself. Every man she sees becomes a suspect; maybe he will be the one who intends to harm her. She's quickly turning paranoid, but as might be expected, her family and friends think she's simply turning crazy.
Enter Kelly, a police officer who is investigating the theft of keys from a woman's purse when she fell asleep on the "tube." It turns out that woman is one who appeared in one of the newspaper ads seen by Zoe, who reports it and thus gets on Kelly's radar. Interspersed here and there are italicized comments from the unknown culprit, who utters dire warnings (in particular about why it's a good idea for folks to vary their daily routines), no doubt for the purpose of scaring the pants off readers and ramping up intrigue.
In the mix are other major characters, among them Simon, Zoe's boyfriend; Matt, her ex; Katie and Jason, the narcissistic children who still carry a grudge at their mother's dumping of their father and hooking up with Simon; Melissa, Zoe's next-door neighbor who owns a string of financially struggling cafes; and Isaac, Katie's newfound older boyfriend who gets off on the wrong foot with mom from the git-go. Backgrounds on each of the characters are revealed, giving Zoe (and readers) reasons to suspect them all. As the story moves along amid plenty of action, it's unclear whether Kelly, who has personal and professional issues of her own, will be able to take down the culprit before he or she takes down Zoe.
When it's all said and done? Most likely another best-seller for the author, and, IMHO, deservedly so. Many thanks to the author and publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
I See You by Clare Mackintosh (Berkley, February 2017); 382 pp.