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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review of I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh

4 Stars
I Let You Go by [Mackintosh, Clare]If you are looking for a good psychological thriller to read this summer, this is it.

The novel begins with a hit-and-run accident in which 5-year-old Jacob is killed as his mother watches.  The mother withdraws into grief and guilt because she let go of her son’s hand as he crossed the street.  In Part I, there are alternating chapters from two different points of view.  In third person narration, we follow the investigation into the case led by Detective Inspector Ray Stevens and his team.  In first person narration, we follow Jenna Gray who flees home in the accident’s aftermath; she rents an isolated cottage in Wales and slowly tries to rebuild a life for herself.  Then, in Part II, the reader is introduced to the voice of a third character after a major plot twist.

There is also a subplot in which Ray Stevens finds himself attracted to a new colleague Kate while his wife has to deal with their son and his problems at school.  This secondary plot could be deleted without affecting the main plot, but it helps to develop the personality of the lead investigator. 

The writing is very clever.  There are a number of subtle evasions which will pique the reader’s interest and will have him/her guessing at what is really going on.  The plot twist that occurs midway through the book may leave readers feeling disoriented and re-reading the first part of the novel.  That plot twist is entirely credible.  Re-reading will just prove that the writer has not cheated:  all the clues are there.  There is another plot twist towards the end of the book that I did not find entirely credible.  It is just a tad over-the-top, relying on too much coincidence. 

After the description of the actual accident, the pace of the novel slows considerably.  The first part continues very leisurely, but it is necessary for full character development.  In the second part, the pace speeds up considerably and suspense builds and builds.  The ending with the type of final confrontation expected in this genre of books is predictable, but that will not stop readers from continuing to the final page.

The police investigation is very realistic.  The tediousness of some of the work is not dismissed like it is in television shows.  Considering that the author spent twelve years in the police force and investigated crimes, the realism of the investigation is not surprising. 

One problem I had was with acronyms.  There are statements like, “There have been no ANPR hits . . . [and] it hasn’t been declared SORN” and “No trace on PNC” which left me shaking my head in frustration.  For a North American reader, such British terminology can be confusing if not sufficiently explained.

This is a difficult book to review without revealing spoilers. It’s a wonderfully entertaining read which will have you playing detective.  You will have difficulty letting go of I Let You Go.