You Can’t Catch Me
Lake Union Pub
June 9th, 2020
You Can’t Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie is a psychological thriller where deception is the name of the game. The central theme of the story is identity theft with a side story involving cults. Although readers might think these two do not connect, McKenzie does a wonderful job tying them together.
The story opens with Jessica Williams in an airport bar waiting for her flight. She meets a stranger with the same name and birthday as hers. They play a game of twenty questions, finding what they have in common. But this also allows each other to know private information. To make matters worse, Jessica has posted on social media her life and travel plans. A few days later she realizes her identity has been stolen and her bank accounts have been emptied. Feeling that her life has been taken from her again, she sets out to settle the score with Jessica Two. Along the way, she meets other Jessica Williams, who have also been swindled. Together they plot to draw out Jessica Two and get back their lives and money.
The author explained, “I have a friend who I dedicated this book to. I live in Canada and travel a lot. Because my friend has a very common name we kept getting stopped at the US border. Someone with a similar name and the same birthday was wanted by the police. Over time we were able to discern that the person the police were after is a man. The border guards even suggested she change her name even though she did nothing wrong.”
There was also the instance “I was at a book signing in Kentucky. A woman asked me my middle name. I thought that was weird until she told me we had the exact same name, spelled the same way. We even looked somewhat alike. It occurred to me that someone could steal a person’s money because they were not stealing someone’s identity. They were the same person on paper. This was the starting point for the book.”
The sub-plot has Jessica escaping from a cult with the help of private investigator Liam, who ends up being her boyfriend. At the age of eighteen she has left her family and a dear friend, Kiki. The story goes back and forth between her time in the cult and twelve years later, after she meets Jessica Two.
“I have always been fascinated by cults. I have done deep dives into Scientology and watched many documentaries on cults. I even know two people who were brought up in cults. They left when they became adults. The ultimate responsibility of a parent is to keep their children safe. A common thread is that cult parents probably start out with good intentions. They don’t join a group thinking they will turn into puppets. What does happen is that they eventually give over their autonomy to the leader. This leader becomes the parent over the adults and children. Part of what happens is the seduction of the parent. The leader is also usually the abuser.”
This story has a life lesson, BEWARE OF STRANGERS. The author wastes no time getting readers hooked from the very first chapter with her creative and unique plots.