While Zoe Walker is reading the classifieds on her way home from work, she is shocked when she finds her own picture being used in an advertisement for a dating agency. When Zoe shows the advert to her family and friends, they tell her the model just looks like her but Zoe isn’t convinced and can’t shrug it off. A few days later, Zoe finds some back issues and discovers the same advert with an image of a woman recently robbed while travelling on the underground. Zoe recognises the woman as Cathy Tanning as she is being used to promote a new safety campaign by British Transport police so Zoe contacts Kelly Swift, the young policewoman who investigated Cathy’s robbery.
While Kelly listens to Zoe’s story, she is initially dubious but when Cathy reveals she believes someone has been in her house, Kelly starts to wonder. Matters soon escalate when a young woman is murdered and when a task force is set up to investigate, Kelly is desperate to be involved but her reputation is against her. Kelly, a former detective, is back in uniform after attacking a rapist she was questioning so no one wants to risk having her on their unit. But Kelly won’t take no for an answer and she wangles her way on to the task force but can she convince them about Zoe’s theory before another tragedy occurs?
Having thoroughly enjoyed Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel I Let You Go which had one of the most amazing twists I’ve ever read, I was excited to read Mackintosh’s new novel which fans of police procedurals will love. Being a former police officer herself, Mackintosh obviously knows her stuff so the passages focusing on the investigation are highly detailed without being too bogged down by jargon. The officers employed on the task force are a diverse bunch and we got just enough personal information to make them all the more realistic. Obviously, there is more attention on Kelly who is attempting to get her career back on track but she is finding it hard getting anyone to trust her again. A number of years ago, Kelly’s twin sister was raped and now anything related to rape triggers a deep emotional response in Kelly which is very problematic for her. I liked Kelly’s character a lot and thought she fit very well into the team where she had a chance to shine once more. If Mackintosh is inclined, the task force would make for an excellent series as there is much more story to be had there.
I didn’t get as attached to Zoe Walker though, certainly not as much as I did for Jenna in the first novel, however Jenna’s circumstances evoked a far more emotional response which is understandable. Instead, Mackintosh decides to freak us out by having us looking over our shoulder on our morning commute and much of what she wrote had me considering my own journey to work. Without giving too much away, someone is watching commuters and selling information on your exact whereabouts at any given time which means if you have a regular pattern to your commute, you are more vulnerable. So, if someone was watching me going to work, they would know the exact time I get my bus, the exact bus stop I use, and even my preferred means of transport. Mackintosh takes it even further when the investigation reveals just how far commuters on the underground are under constant surveillance by CCTV during their journeys.
The story is nicely paced with the finger of suspicion pointing at quite a few people before the big reveal, although I wasn’t too keen on the identity of the culprit or the twist at the end because it is just too Hollywood and I think this author can do better than that. The problem with twists is the reader begins to expect them and they eventually fall flat.
My favourite part of Mackintosh’s books is her insight into how a police investigation works and her police personnel tend to be very likeable but good at their job. I’m sure there is enough of a chill factor in a murder case without having to go over the top.