I See You

Commuters in Clydesdale could be forgiven for thinking that the train service has gone a belly up in the last 18 months. Cancellations and delays have plagued the daily journey. If one is lucky, a seat and the opportunity to read a newspaper or novel whilst being conveyed to work are on offer. What one doesn’t imagine, in the brain death of a day at the office, is that someone is watching you, making notes.

Clare Mackintosh (http://claremackintosh.com/) has picked exactly this creepy scenario as the premise for her second psychological thriller, I See You. Zoe Walker, a forty-something mother of two teenage kids, is on her way home from a job she hates. When she eventually bags a seat she flicks through the evening paper to find a picture of herself looking up from the less savoury columns of the personal ads, with just a website address – findtheone.com. This is disconcerting.

Once home, her family all try to persuade her it is nothing but a freaky coincidence. The picture is not of her at all. But she knows, and we know that something sinister is going on. Shortly afterwards Zoe sees a similar ad, only this time with the picture of another woman. When that woman is found days later strangled in Muswell Hill, Zoe is on the phone to the police PDQ. She is lucky to find a champion in Kelly Swift, a disgraced detective who has been sent to the gulag of transport policing for whacking a child molester during an interview, and who badly needs her shot at redemption. With Zoe’s lead about the classified ad, Kelly elbows her way back into detective work. As the computer boffins burrow their way into findtheone.com, it appears that the site is refreshed each week with details of a new entry – a woman who is simultaneously pictured in the paper. For a hefty premium visitors to the site receive a listing containing minute details of her daily commute, including what she wears, which ticket machine she uses at the station, where she sits on the train, and ends up with a suggested rating: easy, moderate, difficult. The unseen orchestrator offers the site a way of making introductions between commuters, “a helping hand to bring people together”.

Mackintosh builds a convincing and complex emotional backstory for both women throwing in enough red herrings to leave us vaguely suspicious of everyone’s lives. In Zoe’s case, her boyfriend isn’t all he appears, her kids are a handful, her ex is devoted but odd, and her boss is a monster. But there are also constants: her best friend, café owner Melissa, is a rock who helps her to stay grounded. As the two women race to track down findtheone.com’s sinister editor before anyone else winds up dead, the business of going anywhere on a train becomes fraught with dangerous possibilities. The reality of smartphone cameras, constant surveillance on public transport, and the Internet make this clever and plausible thriller.

This is one to read on the train to work, or is it? Enquire at your local library or consult https://www.amazon.co.uk/I-See-You-Clare-Mackintosh/dp/0751566047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472988667&sr=8-1&keywords=I+see+you for further bibliographic detail.


384 pages in Sphere

First published 2016

ISBN  978-0751566048


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Clare Mackintosh

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