Former police officer Clare Mackintosh’s first novel, I Let You Go came as a huge surprise. I had to put it down halfway through to cook dinner and complete other pesky chores, but as soon as they were done and dusted I picked up right where I left off… reading the book easily in a night.
The novel kicks off with the event that changes many lives. A mother and son are walking home from school with few cares in the world. The son runs ahead crossing a street he crosses every day. But today it’s raining, and despite the squeal of brakes trying to grip the wet road, he’s struck by a car which then leaves the scene.
Already attempting to escape a difficult relationship, Jenna can’t move on from the incident so packs up, leaving her life behind her—fleeing to an isolated cabin near a small coastal village where few have heard of the tragic accident.
She slowly starts to build a new life—keeping her past secret from her new community, attempting to forgive herself and start afresh.
But just as she finds romance and happiness her past comes back to derail her new life.
Meanwhile… fledging Detective Constable Kate Evans finds it hard to move on from the hit and run accident which killed five year old Jacob. When they’re told to close the case months later she continues to investigate on her own, supported by mentor and boss, Detective Inspector Ray Stevens. Although the child’s mother has disappeared Kate cannot forget the broken body of the boy and is determined to track down the driver of the car who fled the scene.
I can’t talk too much about the plot of this novel without giving too much away. But…. the first two-thirds is friggin’ amazing. I almost dropped my iPad part way through and as I read in the bath, that could have been problematic!
The novel’s well-written. It alternates between Jenna (written in first person) and Kate and Ray. It is a tad confusing when we eventually meet another key player (Jenna’s ex) as his chapters also appear in first person—but it really just required some focus and wasn’t a big issue.
The characters are great. Although Jenna’s incredibly secretive I still felt I knew her well and being on her side was a no-brainer. The support cast—from her new community to the police investigating the hit and run—were also strongly developed.
So with a great plot, full of twists and turns, I Let You Go is a phenomenal debut novel. The last quarter of the novel was a bit more predictable and what we’ve come to expect from suspense novels and psychological thrillers, but the first three quarters offers something quite different. I was gobsmacked and it’s not often that happens! Indeed…
This may well be my favourite book of 2015. So far.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, published by Little Brown Book Group (Sphere Publishing) is available from 23 April 2015. In Australia it will be released by Hachette and available from 12 May 2015.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.