"I couldn’t put it down!" It’s an old cliché, often used to describe a book that achieves an immediate and constant hold—so much so that a reader can consume it in close to one sitting—no matter what the hour or how many chores need to be done.
Lately, such addictive reads seem to be few and far between, with many simply trying to up the ante on gore or the twist surprise factor, and most merely end up leveling the playing field.
At last, though, here’s a book that fits the bill. I Found You is addictive, and it doesn’t insult your believability quotient.
British author Lisa Jewell has penned 13 previous novels, including the creepy The Girls in the Garden (2016). In I Found You, Jewell combines several ongoing plots; all three of the storylines she’s imagined here stand on their own with intriguing characters, while at the same time seductively weaving one cloth. These stories are set in motion at differing times and places, but sooner or later they converge in a funky English seaside town called Ridinghouse Bay.
A man sits on the beach in the pouring rain: staring out to sea; soaked to the skin; silent. A middle-aged single mother sees him as she gazes from her cottage window.
Near London, a young newlywed from Kiev discovers that her husband of three weeks has gone missing. Without any new friends or understanding of British culture, she must somehow set the wheels in motion in order to discover what’s happened.
In a decades-past flashback, two teens on holiday with their family encounter an older teen who raises their suspicions in a hair-raising fashion. The scene unfolds during a visit to the beach by a traveling vintage “steam fair” (a showcase of steam-powered vehicles and machinery) that provides an appropriately seedy feel to the proceedings.
Each of these finely drawn stories tends more to gloom than to creepiness, but Jewell’s skill is such that an overriding sense of menace seeps into every page, overriding the commonplace feel of the setting. The action reaches a climax at a once-lovely seaside mansion, now overgrown with neglect—its path leading to a rusty, padlocked door hiding lonely rooms and seaswept vistas.
Jewell knows how to urge the reader on, but not in a bludgeoning way. Occasionally, the action gets a little too ordered—and perhaps winds up a bit too neatly—but by that time, readers will have enjoyed just about every minute of this captivating read.