Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach a few yards from her house in Ridinghouse Bay in East Yorkshire. He sits in the rain, improperly dressed, and stares at the waves. Since Alice has a habit of taking in the lost, she invites him inside and learns his mysterious story. The man has no idea who he is, where he’s from, or how he came to be on the beach that day. Despite the warnings from her best friend and two teenage children, she allows the man to stay overnight and commits to helping him figure out where he’s supposed to be.
Several hours away, newlywed Lily Monrose reports her husband, Carl, missing. He never came home from work. As Lily speaks to the police it becomes clear she doesn’t know her husband at all. She has no contact information for any of his family or friends, and she’s later shocked to learn his entire identity is fabricated.
In 1993, Gray and Kristy accompany their parents to a rental house in Ridinghouse Bay. A vacation they used to love as small children has become tedious now that they’re 17 and 15, respectively. Kristy is soon swept off her feet by the handsome and older, Mark Tate; even her parents are smitten by him. Unimpressed, Gray sees a darkness in Mark, but his suspicions are dismissed by his family until it’s too late.
With I Found You, Lisa Jewell weaves together three compelling mysteries that will keep you guessing as to how they’re all connected. It would be easy to judge a character like Alice, who takes in a complete stranger when she has three children in the house, but you can’t help rooting for her — even when you’re not sure whether or not the man she calls “Frank” can be trusted. Lily comes off a bit less likable. There’s only so far the innocence and naïveté can go, and she takes far too long to accept that Carl might not be worth finding.
The most interesting parts of this novel are the events in 1993. Gray is an interesting narrator as he’s savvy enough to recognize trouble when he sees it in Mark, but he’s also still a child himself. He makes some questionable decisions that ultimately contribute to tragic events on the beach.
Through most of I Found You you’re wondering if Frank is Carl, and if so, is he faking his fugue state like he faked his entire existence to his wife? Is Alice about to get played by the same man who tricked a young woman from the Ukraine into marrying him? And how does this tie in with that fateful summer in 1993? If you like a bit of Gone Girl with Broadchurch tossed in, you’ll enjoy this read.