Free Press Journal

I See You: by Clare Mackintosh- Review


Title: I See You

Author:  Clare Mackintosh

Publisher: Hachette

Price: Rs 399

Pages 372

A successful thriller is defined by how quickly a reader finishes the book. A true pageturner would not let the reader rest till she has reached the end. The character in danger gains her sympathy, while the reader tries to solve the case in her mind. The book sometimes becomes a companion on her journeys to work, or turns into a paperweight on her working desk or even goes around with the reader on her night soirées with friends. The thirst to finish the book is much more urgent than the necessity to catch up with the sleep. The joy of reaching a conclusion is unfathomable but is soon drowned by the gloom of loss of a companion of many days. Every book, when comes to an end, creates a void in a reader, and this void is the true reward of any author.

In that sense, Clare Mackintosh is a real winner and her book I See You, a real pageturner. Right from the beginning, I See You arrests you with its style and tone. Mackintosh makes no fuss about lives of the characters more than what is needed. She introduces her people as plainly as you would want them to be. They are ordinary people, living an ordinary life, doing ordinary jobs. They are not heroes and heroines but come with their own shades of grey. Yet they are people like us, like her readers. The daily officegoers, the daily commuters, the people of the routine. But it is this routine which forms the crux of the story. Did it ever cross your mind that a routine too may kill you? Most of us live by the rule of discipline and routine; doing each thing at a particular time every day is supposed to keep you healthy, surely not kill you!

The story though revolves around a middle-aged woman Zoe Walker, it has more to do with all the women around the world who step out of their homes every day – be it for work or college or just for a daily walk. A woman senses the danger much better than the other gender, especially if it’s from the other gender, and Macintosh has played up this fact beautifully in I See You. Nobody believes when Zoe thinks she is being followed and ‘looked at’ but she knows because she can sense it. And like her, there are many other women who are being followed and put up on a website which helps men introduce themselves to these innocent ladies as perfect strangers. However, these strangers are actually predators who have known each and every detail of these ‘listed’ women but prefer the innocent serendipitous chase more than the famous dating sites. The innocent flirt game turns dangerous when the listed women start getting hurt, raped and even killed.

The city of London plays a major role in the book, so much so that it becomes a character in the story. The Underground and Overground tube commute can well be called the protagonist of the novel. It sometimes feels far-fetched that Macintosh believes her readers to know the names of all the lines and stations, but she commendably weaves her plot to make us understand the nuances of the routes. However, the jargons used by police officers and subway guards are confusing, it would have been better to use simple words for non-UK residents and readers. The story does seem to slug in between when Zoe becomes paranoid with her fears and police officer Kelly keeps on going back to her past but gets back into sleuth mode as soon as the male officer comes into the picture. The writing is slick and we won’t be surprised if a movie is soon announced on I See You. A good thriller not only earns readers but also viewers, after all.