While reading Clare Mackintosh’s new novel, I See You. I thought a lot about what it’s like to be approached by a man I don’t know. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that rejecting a man — especially in public — can be dangerous. So much so that my girlfriends and I came up with fake numbers that we memorized. When a guy asked for my number, I had the fake one at the ready. This would, hopefully, keep the encounter friendly and I would never have to actually speak to the man again. The reason we memorized them was in case the guy asked that you repeat it back, testing you. Yes, that has happened. The purpose of memorizing all of them was in case he asked your friend if your number was real, testing her. This, of course, was before everyone had cell phones. To give a polite, “No,” wasn’t an option because you might find yourself yelled at, called names, or worse.
It’s this sense of entitlement that’s at the heart of I See You.
Zoe Walker, a divorced mother of two adults, is shocked to find her photo has been used in a newspaper advertisement for a dating site. She waffles between thinking the worst and feeling as though she’s overreacting. But then women who are featured in ads after hers become the victims of brutal crimes and Zoe has to seriously consider she may be a target.
On the other side of this mystery is police investigator Kelly Swift, fresh off a suspension for assaulting a suspect. She falls easily into the trope of the haunted detective who gets away with breaking the rules because she’s so smart. She does this several times here when she reveals aspects of the investigation to Zoe, fearing that keeping her out of the loop would place her in further danger.
There’s a third perspective provided between chapters: the mysterious person behind the website. This person has been watching the women closely and has memorized their commutes via London’s subway system. Beyond evil, this person is also extremely smart and tech savvy, making it difficult for Swift to access the site in the ads, and later find out who’s behind it.
Much like Mackintosh’s other novel, I Let You Go, I See You drags a bit in the middle. The investigation into the crimes — especially as they escalate — was fine, but Zoe’s home life was a bore to get through because nearly everyone in her household was so unlikable. My biggest issue came with the reveal of the person behind the website. I won’t spoil it, but that and the twist at the very end felt gimmicky considering the serious subject matter. I would love to hear from other women who’ve read this book to see if others felt the same.
I See You is available at Amazon (see below) in several formats.