Desert Isle Keeper
I Found You
I had never heard of Lisa Jewell before picking up I Found You but fortunately, she is on my radar now. Similar in style to Claire Mackintosh and Holly Seddon, Ms. Jewell delivers a smartly crafted, atmospheric novel with tautly paced suspense and impeccably timed revelations throughout. You will keep guessing to the very end as to who is who and what happened when.
He sits on the beach outside her window for hours, alone in a torrential rain. Unable to keep herself from getting involved, single mum Alice Lake takes him a rain slicker leftover from a debunked renter and consequentially finds herself offering hot tea, food and a place to spend the night. He doesn’t even offer her his name in exchange. He can’t. He doesn’t remember what it is or anything else about himself.
Lily Montrose is the new bride of a very predictable husband. Every night he boards the train at 5:06, disembarks at 5:44 and makes the 15 minute walk home to appear at their door promptly at 5:59. One night, when he doesn’t arrive home by nine pm, she calls the police. They tell her that before they can open a missing persons case she must wait at least twenty-four hours. She does. And that’s when the surprises start coming.
In 1993 Graham “Gray” Ross and his sister Kirsty are less than enthusiastic about the annual family trip to Ridinghouse Bay. For both teens, with friends and lives at home, sitting on the beach with mum and dad does not sound like an ideal way to spend their summer holiday. When they meet Mark, the family is initially friendly with the young man who seems personable and kind, if a touch on the posh side. But the older boy’s growing interest in fifteen year old Kirsty makes Gray increasingly disconcerted. Is he just being an overprotective older brother or is there something seriously off about their new “friend”?
It’s hard to write a review without details but in this case it is also absolutely necessary. Each piece of the puzzle in this book is interesting and I would hate to deprive any reader of the joy of finding that out for themselves. Here are some of my general impressions, though, and hopefully they will be enough to encourage you to rush out and pick up this book.
The story is told from alternating points of view, introducing us first to Alice and her mysterious guest, then to Lily and finally to the Ross family. The juxtaposing of the present and past is handled brilliantly, with each portion informing the other without in any way revealing the important question of just who the mysterious man is. For almost the entirety of the book we are not sure if he is hero or villain or for that matter which role Gray and Mark will play in their own portion of the tale. The suspense comes from never being quite certain which character hides the secret and precisely what that secret is. I loved this guessing game.
Another thing I adored was the characters. Completely ordinary people doing typical things, you begin to wonder how they got themselves caught up in this saga. That is what makes the mystery so compelling. It is small decisions – a kindness to a stranger, accepting an invitation from a friendly acquaintance – that gets them caught up in the stuff of which nightmares are made. You can see yourself making some of the same choices, responding in many of the same ways. It gives the book a very strong psychological pull because the reader can easily imagine finding themselves in the same situation not from bad choices but unfortunate ones.
There is a romance here or rather a few of them but they are background music to the overall tune of the tale. A quibble with one of those love stories is what kept this from being a perfect A but it really is a minor matter. The star here is the mystery – what happened in 1993 and how is it affecting the present? Why are these sweet, average people being sucked into this extraordinary situation?
Compelling, ominous and deliciously enthralling I Found You is a book that will have you reading long past your bedtime. I am so very happy to have found it and to be able to recommend it to others.