“I See You” by Clare Mackintosh is a riveting psychological thriller. She is two for two in writing plot lines that will scare, worry and terrify readers. The novel is a police drama, a mystery and a suspense story. The author seems to have found her niche, writing stories about ordinary women who are put in jeopardy.
The plot is a warning of sorts from Mackintosh, a former police detective. She shows the dangers and benefits of the technology world. The plot begins with Zoe Walker, an average working mother, seeing an “advert” in the London Gazette. She becomes flustered and worried when it appears there is a picture of herself. Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of her every move?
When other women appear, it becomes evident to Zoe that something is wrong, as she connects the dots to crimes involving these women. After calling the police and getting PC Kelly Swift involved, the investigation finds women who were sexually abused, violently assaulted and had material objects stolen. In an innovative scenario Mackintosh shows how technology has taken stalking to a whole new level, where a routine can work against someone.
“I started the book with this quote to set the tone, ‘You do the same thing every day. You know exactly where you’re going. You’re not alone,’” Mackintosh said. “We stay in these routines and do not think about it because they are extraordinarily comforting and familiar. For example, when we leave for a job we take the same route and leave at the same time each day. Unfortunately, this means we are less aware of our surroundings. I realized in the cities many people know about others commutes, and how dangerous that could be.”
The wide range of characters is very well developed and contributes to the storyline through different narratives. Det. Kelly Swift steals the show in this book, especially given the tidbits of her life and the detective work done to solve the crime. Having been disgraced for punching a prisoner, she was demoted to the British Transport Unit. But after convincing her former superior to be given a second chance she joins the MIT unit. Although she breaks the rules it is obvious that her intentions are in the right place. A powerful quote hammers the point home: “You were doing what you thought was the right thing. It isn’t always the same.”
Mackintosh had no intention of having Swift become the main character.
“I certainly had no intention to make her it. But over the course of writing the story she became so vivid and such a strong character,” the author said. “I do think she threatened to overshadow the whole story. In the future I would dearly like to write more stories that put her front and center. There is still so much about her that I want to talk about. I am not done with her yet.”
Using her vast experiences, Mackintosh creates a very realistic and chilling story with a growing sense of danger. Readers feel they are part of the case as they work along with Kelly and her police team to find connections to the antagonist.