“I Found You” by Lisa Jewell is a mystery that will keep readers reading, turning pages, and loving the various intertwining stories right to the end. The mystery begins on the second page with a strange man who has appeared on the beach outside Alice Lake’s rather rundown, small cottage.
A man sitting on the sand would not be notable, except for the fact that it’s pouring rain and he’s been there for hours. Alice is the type who takes on stray dogs and others, so she brings him a jacket and some hot tea. Later, she invites him to stay in her shed. The man does not know who he is or why he is in the small oceanside town of Ridinghouse Bay.
Lily is a new bride from Ukraine whose husband disappears. He texts her when he gets on his train, but then he never shows up at their apartment. She waits and waits, and finally calls the police who eventually give her disturbing news. Her husband’s passport is fake and no one by his name exists.
Lily is determined to find her husband, who she knows loves her and would never leave her. Meanwhile, Alice is determined to help “Frank,” as they have named the mysterious stranger, find out where he belongs.
There is also a flashback from 1993, of a family on vacation in Ridinghouse Bay for their summer vacation. Gray and Kirsty, his sister, must make the best of the vacation that they no longer loved as they did when they were younger. Gray is 17 and Kirsty is 15 when they meet Mark, a handsome 18-year-old boy from the huge mansion at the end of the beach. Kirsty goes out with Mark a few times, but Gray gets really bad vibes from Mark’s behavior.
The back story is interspersed with the stories of Lily and Alice, and slowly their tales come together. There is no huge twist; most readers will have figured out who “Frank” is before his identity is unveiled, but that doesn’t make the ending any less successful. The story is filled with suspense throughout, and Jewell creates characters who are all — every one of them — flawed in some way. The readers come to like Alice and root for her life to change for the better. Readers will also come to sympathize with Lily, whose short temper renders her rather unappealing at first, as she struggles with the betrayal of her husband.
This is a very British book, and the British-isms add to the plot mystery and characters. Phrases like “…the carpet has possibly never been hoovered,” and “Alice makes spaghetti for tea,” will make American readers smile and long for a trip to jolly England.
This would be a great beach read, but also a perfect fit for any mystery lover.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Atria Books, the publisher, for review purposes.