BOOK CLUB: I Follow You

“I Follow You” by Peter James is a novel by an established author who is well known for his long-running Roy Grace series. This is a completely stand-alone thriller, and it’s a great introduction to his work. Vividly written, this will quickly hook readers and remains unputdownable almost until the last word.

Marcus is obsessed with time, so it’s rare for him to be running late. Ever. But here he is, running late for work; and in this unusual state, he nearly mows down a pregnant jogger. Their contact is fleeting at best, but his (almost) victim reminds him strongly of a girl who dumped him in a particularly cruel way early in his teens. Could this be her, all grown up?

We know she’s not. And it isn’t more than a few pages before Marcus knows it too. However, it doesn’t matter. He’s noticed Georgie now, and quickly becomes more and more obsessed with her. His interest turns to an unhealthy fixation with unnerving speed.

Georgie is blithely unaware of his obsession. She’s newly pregnant, in love, and her fitness business is starting to take off. She’s got no particular reason to pay more than passing attention to a respected obstetrician at the local hospital. She’s chosen another obstetrician that she feels more comfortable with, but that’s not a big deal – is it?

It is really quite frightening how easily Marcus begins to manipulate Georgie’s life. James does a fantastic job of showing how easily an unethical person can manipulate and deceive others, and how easily we can be convinced to dismiss our uneasy niggles.

The tension builds steadily until you almost want to shriek at Georgie to alert her to the danger. This is highly credible; it’s easy to believe events, even when you’re thinking “but surely not…”. Because at the same time, another part of your brain is assuring you that oh yes, surely that could happen. This is one of the most chilling things about this novel – that James takes everyday interactions and gives them a nasty twist.

The characters, too, are credible.  Georgie is lively and real, and it’s easy to understand how and why she brushes her misgivings aside. We’re all socially conditioned to certain behaviours, and it’s hard to trust your instincts when they go against those behaviours. Georgie is a character most readers will understand and empathise with. Caring about her and what happens to her makes the tension all the greater.

And Marcus, nasty as he is, is believable too. We’ve all met people like him: people who get upset when things don’t go their way, people who put on a good social front but aren’t really very likeable, people who are unreasonably convinced of their own rightness. Marcus eventually takes these behaviours further than any normal person would, but James makes it easy to believe that extra step.

I really enjoyed “I Follow You”. It’s a standout thriller, credible and tense. I suppose that if you dissect it, no single part of it is particularly original. But James isn’t trying to keep secrets from his reader. He’s just ratcheting up the tension. And it works; I felt like I needed a good lie down once I’d finished reading. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781509816286 / Pan Macmillan Australia

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading “I Follow You” by Peter James. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

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