If you are wondering who wrote the fastest selling crime novel of 2015, I can put your mind at rest. According to the Sunday Times, it was Clare Mackintosh’s debut, “I Let You Go”. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do, without further delay. Don’t just take my word for it – it was recommended by @Skirky (http://theafterword.co.uk/i-let-you-go/) and has one of the most face slapping twists I’ve ever read in a novel – it arrives just half way through the book, and you are still stinging at the end.
Just a year on. That difficult second book. How do you follow that? Can you follow that? Well, it turns out yes, pretty well. “I See You” uses the mundane topic of the daily commute to work as the platform (yes, I know) for a sinister and just-a-bit creepy thriller. People who follow a routine each day – same train, same carriage, same time – may feel a comforting familiarity, but in this story they are laying themselves open to something rather unpleasant.
At the center of the story is the Zoe Walker, a woman in most respects ordinary. I’ll avoid any plot spoilers other than to say she starts to suspect something odd is happening when she see what she thinks is her picture in the back of a newspaper. Mackintosh does a good job of describing how Zoe’s doubts ebb and flow against the gentle disbelief and skepticism of her friends and family once she looks a little more closely at those around her.
Clare Mackintosh is an ex police officer, and the characters tasked with investigating the events that unfold across the book mix the traditional depictions up a little. PC Kelly Swift maybe a relative of the stereotypical cop with “issues” but her troubled past is used to unpeel a telling insight into the impact that violent crime has on both victims and those close to them, and for once she’s at the bottom of the food chain as a constable with British Transport Police. DI Nick Rampello’s introduction is initially unsympathetic but he recovers although Swift’s secondment to the investigating team requires some disbelief to be suspended.
I’ll take a fast paced story over painstaking narrative every time, and Mackintosh moves things along at a gallop. There’s a consequence to this as some of the characters remain one dimensional, and not always consistently so – witness the Zoe’s arse of a boss who suddenly develops a compassionate side in order that you start to wonder if he’s not what he seems. Still, clues come thick and fast and I found myself putting someone new in the frame after every chapter. Incorrectly as it turned out.
Following “I Let You Go” was never going to be easy given the startling change to the story midway, but this was a book that was genuinely hard to put down and more than worthy of a position along Lee Child, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. I’m sure a TV adaptation must be just around the corner.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Anyone who enjoys a who dunnit with a twist or two.
One thing you’ve learned
People are not necessarily what they seem.