For me, one of the hallmarks of a great psychological thriller is the unsettling feeling that the events in the book could happen to me. I read a lot of crime so I’m always on the look out for something a little different in this crowded category, but it has to be something that lives within the realms of possibility, it has to actually be able to happen to you.
I See You by Clare Mackintosh fulfils this brief perfectly. When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. The website, findtheone.com, sounds like a harmless dating site… Surely there’s been some kind of mistake?
For any reader who has a daily routine, who gets on the same carriage of the same train each day, who waits at a certain point on the platform where the doors will open to make the fastest connection – this book will make you pause. You’ll look up halfway through your train journey – if you can drag your eyes away from the page – to see who else is in your carriage and who might be watching.
But it’s here that I’ll have to bow out of summarising the book through fear of ruining what is such a fiendishly simple and evil plot!
Mackintosh skilfully ratchets up the tension, allowing the reader the time to let all the dastardly implications sink in without losing pace. Don’t get me wrong – there were a few moments when I was shouting at Zoe for her occasional lack of street-smarts, but as this highlighted how involved I was in the plot I was happy to let that go!
This is a dual narrative book, the other half being told by PC Kelly Swift (great name) with an authenticity you can’t help but attribute to Mackintosh’s own time working in the police force. Kelly is the type of policeman you hope will be there in a crisis – she breaks the rules but always in favour of the victim. Her backstory is an interesting one and also raises thought-provoking issues.
Mackintosh had a lot to live up to with I See You. Not only was her debut novel I Let You Go one of the stand out successes of 2015, but it’s just won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award – an impressive shadow for book two to pervade, and one which it has done successfully.