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The Crime & Beyond Book Club met in February to discuss I See You by Clare Macintosh. We welcomed a new member: welcome Nancy. Of course I didn’t get her email address, so she’s not seeing this at the moment, but I will rectify that ASAP. Thank you to Denise and Dennis for the yummy snacks – the cookies were awesomely decorated. Hopefully we got a photo.

I See You is the author’s second book and was billed as a novel rather than a mystery. In it, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her... It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they've become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad's twisted purpose...a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

We had mixed feelings about this book, but rather than having opinions across the board, we seemed to have people who gave it either a really bad review or a really good one (the scores were more all over the place, as you will see). I found it interesting that there was more of a love it or hate it feeling. Clearly it was a book that brought out strong emotions (and for some uncontrolled sleep) and I think the author would be happy about this; there’s nothing worse than a book that brings out no feelings whatsoever. I remember when Gone Girl was in its heyday and some people absolutely hated the twist. But the fact that they did meant that the book was talked about (and if you’re like me, I tend to want to read books others hate just to see if I agree).

Anyhoo, the book’s scores were as follows: Three 8s, One 7.5, Three 7s, One 6.876, Three 6s, Five 5s, One 4.67, One 4.3, Two 4s, One 3.33, One 3.142, and One 2. Yeah, you know who you all are with the decimals.

I think we agreed that the premise was very intriguing. We all go about our business and get into our routines, but to imagine that we’re being watched is very creepy. And to be watched with the intent of the watchers in the book – beyond creepy. We agreed that it was totally realistic that there was a website like the one Mackintosh invented (who knows, maybe the author runs a similar site and that’s where she got the idea...there was a woman involved after all). It was just creepy enough to be real and just real enough to make us all wonder if maybe we should mix up our routines a bit. The bone chilling line used to be “I know where you live.” Now it’s “I know how you get to work, what you wear, where you sit, oh yeah, and I’m watching you on CCTV.”

Those that enjoyed the book really liked the premise and the site the author created (in a fiction kind of way, no one is like, subscribing as far as I know). Those who liked the book didn’t dissect the whole thing and just enjoyed the story. They liked the cop character, Kelly, and Megan the homeless girl who helped Zoe when she was being chased. They found the premise believable and the book was entertaining. It was an interesting character study too.

Those that liked the book less had a hard time with the whiney main character. I personally get tired of main characters who spend their whole time suspecting everyone in their lives of being the baddy. I’d like to think that if I was being stalked I wouldn’t assume Ray was doing it, but it hasn’t happened, so I’m not 100% sure. We didn’t really think that the son being the website owner was feasible. Terri thought the author kept opening doors and then slamming them shut. The first 2/3 seemed to go over better than the last 1/3 for the middle of the road scorers. But then one person said she liked the last 1/3 better, so who knows.

I feel the need to point out that we had a weigh in from Stephanie that it was not at all unrealistic to think that a neighbor would pretend to like you, take care of your kids, and lie to you for years. The Brits will go to ANY measure to avoid this at 3am:

BeeGees

Someone mentioned that the fact that the son was behind the website was a bit of a Daisy. New members, if you don’t know what that is you can find a description on the Wiki site. Relating to this, Jose came up with a new Crime & Beyond term: the Unbelievable Criminal Mastermind. A distant cousin to the Unreliable Narrator, but far less fun at a party and really kinda irritating.

Sometimes books give us life lessons, and I think it’s important to point them out when they appear. A few members came up with the life lessons found in I See You:

1. Don’t use public transportation, there are creeps out there

2. If you’re a whiney woman who is the protagonist of her own story, alter your commute

3. Men are pigs (I think this came from a man)

This month we will meet on March 26 to discuss The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Jose is leading and Amy is bringing snacks. I won’t be at the meeting, but look forward to hearing what everyone thinks. I am only about ¼ through the book so far.

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