The One with the Cameras in the Tube

Clare Mackintosh, I See You (2016)

Zoe Walker is an ordinary Londoner. She is a lower middle-class, divorced, remarried mother of two late teens / young adults, she works in a realtor’s office, and she commutes everyday at the same time in the same train. Pretty boring, uh? One day, her routine is disturbed when she sees a photo of herself in the newspaper classifieds. Needless to say, she hasn’t put it there herself. Who has taken her picture and why? It would be a coincidence, or a small joke, if Zoe didn’t recognize the face of a recent murder victim: she too had her photo in the same obscure classified ads.

The idea that we’re being watched all the time is hardly a new one. Cameras, evil computer viruses and misuse of social media is newer but not innovative. Stalkers are a common trope of fast-paced thrillers. The last few years have seen the huge commercial success of domestic noirs, with ordinary wives and mothers as new (if unreliable) heroines. “I See You” takes these different themes and shakes them into a rather efficient new mix.

I wasn’t completely blown away by the book. It was a good page-turner, but not great (meaning that it is a bit forgettable afterwards), because the last few twists seemed a bit stretched, and the underlying argument (why the crime is committed at all) wasn’t quite convincing to me (telling more would be a spoiler, and I think you should go and judge for yourself).

The best parts of the book were those in Zoe’s head, when the feeling of safe anonymity that she feels in her daily commutes (and that I do feel, to be honest) is replaced by the paranoia of being vulnerable and all too visible in the crowd (not a comfortable idea to entertain when you use public transportation daily). The parallel with Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the train is a complete marketing ploy, unless you want to create a bookshelf dedicated to women and (British) public transportation.

7 thoughts on “The One with the Cameras in the Tube

  1. I gave up in this, because like you I started to find it pushing beyond my boundaries of belief. I had the same experience with Mackintosh’s earlier book, so I think she and I may be parting company.

  2. Pingback: Six Degrees of Separation – May | Smithereens

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