You do the same thing every day.
You know exactly where you’re going.
You’re not alone.
It took me a while to go through this book but I must say that it’s pretty good and pretty bad at the same time. Pretty good because I was hooked from middle to the end, pretty bad as I could barely care for any of the wide vast of female characters and their issues. The first half was so drawn out and no real tension was being built.
Set in London, modern years, the book begins with a creepy discovery in the local escort ads – the picture displayed are taken from unwilling participants in a high-stakes, ultra-secret chase for a partner for the busy elite. We are talking here about a dating site called findtheone.com where the user can download (for a price) all the information about a woman. The information is gleamed by taking pictures from their online public profiles, by following them around and checking their schedule and giving hints to the possible suitors of what the other person likes and dislikes.
All the women on the site have not subscribed.
All the men have stalker-level information when they start.
Some women have turn out dead or assaulted.
The police is involved and as the story progresses we’re trapped in a “who-is-it?” chase. It can be the broke partner who lost their job recently and have notes about different females which could or could not be research for a book. It could be the scorned lover. The rejected soul. Every person entering the victim’s life could be a stalker. Could be a killer. Could be a person who paid to be near “the one”.
And as we see, some of the people who like to date the women they stalk, they suffer from the “white knight” syndrome – creating a dangerous situation (like pushing the woman in front of the incoming train) and then saving them from it (appearing like a hero and then asking for a date).
The plot had potential, how being creatures of habit can make you vulnerable through predictability, but it was far fetched to suggest that people (men..it was always referred to as men wanting women, not that I’m a militant equality pursuer, but it did criminalise men heavily) would download commutes, going out of their way from their own commute, otherwise they’d see the female every day and know anyway?
The characters were flimsy. Zoe was a wet lettuce and the family construct dull. A further loose storyline was Kelly and the demotion to the transport police for throttling a rapist, but even more pointless was the back story of the sisters rape (different rapist), which served only to add context as to why Kelly was demoted and that sometimes victims just want to move on.
The book drones on about men being beasts that can walk free and rape women and the victim mentality that makes women not pursue their aggressors in hope of moving on with their lives.
The ending was farcical and things had picked up by then with lots of possible suspects for the bad guy, so a shame. The biggest moment of farce was Zoe paying £1000 on the ex’s credit card to see the website for herself. Why pick the platinum package just to see first hand that you are on a website?
In the end, the idea that adding Katie’s daughter to the “findtheone.com” website would trigger a barge of rapists and murderers to appear was pretty implausible and a dumb cop-out from the writer. PS: The writing is boring af.
‘there’s nothing on the walls, which slope from ceiling to floor at an angle that leaves only a narrow strip of full head height, along the center of the room. The single Velux window lets in a paltry amount of winter sun, and I turn on the main light’
If you want to source your baddies within family and friends of the protagonist, you have to have some clues woven in earlier which make the reaer say ‘ah, now that makes sense’. As it is, we are baffled that such normal doting people would go to the trouble to risk the life of a family member. Motivation has to be plausible. I would have understood if Justin was setting up Simon, who he clearly dislikes. But he wasn’t, it was his mother he was after, and it just doesn’t make sense. 2nd point. Running a stalking database from cloned London Underground CCTV footage to build up profiles of dozens of women – right down to what they wear, and where they stand – doesn’t just take one person’s technical expertise. You would need half a dozen at least just to watch the footage. The logistics of what the author has described have to be followed through, and I’m afraid I just couldn’t believe it.
While the book could be called a page-turner, it was mostly due to skimming and not due to the writing.. There is apparently a saying in publishing that an author is only as good as their second novel in which case Clare Mackintosh isn’t quite as brilliant as I Let You Go suggested. In this book the crime is far-fetched, the characterisations muddy, the red herrings clumsy with a significant amount of contrived situations. The insight into the workings of a police force, while adding to the breadth of the story in the first novel just seemed dull and pointless in this one.
This is going to the charity pile.