Catherine McKenzie | You Can’t Catch Me

you can't catch me by catherine mckenzie

The Book: 

You Can’t Catch Me, by Catherine McKenzie, 2020

The Characters: 

Jessica Williams
Her PI friend Liam
Her cousin Kiki
Jessica Two, the con artist 
Jessie and JJ, her other victims

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The Plot (from Goodreads):

Twelve years ago Jessica Williams escaped a cult. She reintegrated into society, endured uncomfortable notoriety, and tried to put it all behind her. Then, at an airport bar, Jessica meets a woman with an identical name and birth date. It appears to be just an odd coincidence—until a week later when Jessica finds her bank account drained and her personal information stolen.

Following a trail of the grifter’s victims, each with the same name, Jessica gathers players, one by one, for her own game. According to her plan, they’ll set a trap and wait for the impostor to strike again. But plans can go awry, and trust can fray, and as Jessica tries to escape the shadows of her childhood, the risks are greater than she imagined. Now, confronting the casualties of her past, Jessica can’t help but wonder who will pay the price.

Click here for book spoilers for You Can't Catch Me
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read You Can’t Catch Me, I suggest you turn back now.

The original Jessica enlists Liam’s help to track down Jessie and then JJ, other alleged victims of Jessica Two. The three of them devise a plan to catch Jessica two by finding another Jessica Williams and setting a trap. They travel to the Grand Tetons where the fifth Jessica lives. 

The Twist:

Jessie turned out to be Jessica Two, and had gone along with Jessica’s plan for the fun of it and to keep an eye on their progress. Jessica caught on, went through her things, and then confronted her on a secluded beach. After a fight, Jessie trips in the forest and dies. Jessica and JJ dump the body in the lake, clean up all evidence, and report her to the police. 

Intertwined with the plot is the story of Jessica’s time in the Land of Todd cult (I feel like that could have been named better!). We find out that her mother killed Todd because he raped Kiki and got her pregnant. Kiki had killed herself in college because she couldn’t cope with her past. 

The Ending:

In the last chapter, we find out that Kiki and Jessica had the same name, but Kiki went by her middle name. Kiki was the original Jessica Williams whose identity Jessie/Molly/Karen stole. Main character Jessica had planned this all as revenge on Jessie/Molly/Karen, knowing the whole time who she was, because she was there when Kiki killed herself and didn’t stop her. She writes a letter to Liam as a confession and then disappears.

Are you confused enough by all the Jessicas yet? CM did a great job of keeping it from being confusing in the book, although what are the odds that four girls named Jessica all use a different nickname.

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The Review: 

Congratulations to Catherine McKenzie for ten novels in ten years! What a huge achievement. 

You Can’t Catch Me is a fast-paced, entertaining thriller with many impressive layers. The short chapters made the book fly by, and the dialogue was clever and entertaining. 

At first, I had no sympathy for Jessica. I cringed so hard as she started answering Jessica Two’s questions in the airport bar. Maybe just because I knew the premise of the book, but she didn’t even try to disguise asking blatant security questions! Jessica deserved getting her money stolen for being that gullible. 

As the book progressed, though, Jessica grew on me. She turned out to be a smart, resilient character who would do anything to get revenge. 

Catherine McKenzie mentioned on Goodreads that the idea for the book came when a friend of hers with a common name kept getting stopped at border control since there was an APB out for someone with the same name and birthday. How cool to be able to take that story and turn it into a novel. I’m curious where the cult angle came from and why she decided to make that Jessica’s background. 

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you can't catch me by catherine mckenzie
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