Monday, February 06, 2017

Everything is so benign: I SEE YOU.

I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zoe Walker is a busy mother of two grown (but still living at home) children. Her partner, Simon, works for a local paper, and Zoe is divorced from her kids' father, Matt. She's tired trying to always make ends meet. One day, Zoe spots an ad in the classifieds that appears to feature her photo. The ad features a website and phone number, but Zoe cannot get into the password-protected site. The next day, the same ad shows a photo of another woman, and so on and so on. Meanwhile, Detective Kelly Swift is struggling to get back in the good graces of the police force after an incident derailed her career. Kelly is working a series of tube (subway)-related incidents, but she really wants to get back into real investigating. When Kelly and Zoe's paths cross, it doesn't seem as if Zoe is in any real danger, but that all changes suddenly.

I absolutely adored Mackintosh's first novel, I Let You Go - it was one of my favorite novels in 2015. It features an amazing twist and a well-written plot. I obviously had high expectations for her sophomore novel. Unfortunately, for me, this one didn't quite live up to my expectations. It's certainly an interesting novel with an intriguing premise, but I didn't buy the premise outside of a novel. You sort of have to suspend disbelief to allow yourself to read on with the plot: even though it's rooted in technology and our society's obsession with technology and dating, the overall construct just seems to be a stretch. The beginning portion of the novel was compelling, but slow, and I kept waiting for it to pick up. I also could see a lot of the plot pieces coming.

The novel alternates between chapters from Zoe's point of view and Kelly's. I liked Kelly's chapters so much more and found myself a bit annoyed going back to Zoe at times - she was whiny and irritating for a while. Kelly was far more nuanced (though a bit too focused on the past), but her chapters were far better at adding suspense and tension. The novel certainly does pick up nearing the end, and I definitely wanted to find out what happened and who was responsible for what.

But even then, the motivation for the "bad guy" was a bit odd and poorly done. Like a lot of the plot, it seemed a bit of a stretch. It was saved somewhat by the epilogue, which offered a good twist (although I had my suspicions), but I wasn't sure it made up for the whole book, and it didn't make me gasp like her first book. (Poor author, being held up to impossible follow-on standards.) Overall, I did find this novel puzzling, though hindered somewhat but a slightly preposterous plot. I'm glad I read it, but I certainly prefer her first novel. (I'll still eagerly await anything from Mackintosh, however!)

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review. It is available everywhere as of 02/21/2017.

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