Book review: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Permalink

Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel, I Let You Go, took my breath away. Very literally. In fact the unexpected twist  she offered up midway through the book almost resulted in me dropping my iPad into the bathtub.

It was easily one of my favourite books of 2015. Her second book I See You, was also enjoyable and very clever and contemporary – using the interwebz and technology to taunt and stalk.

Her third (and new release), Let Me Lie, probably rivals her debut for me in terms of its twists and turns, cos just when I thought I had it figured out… I was fooled again!

Book review: Let Me Lie by Clare MackintoshLet Me Lie
by Clare Mackintosh
Published by Hachette Australia
on March 8th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9780751564877
Pages: 400

The police say it was suicide.Anna says it was murder.They're both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger.

We’ve got a great lead in Anna Johnson. After a whirlwind romance with the psychologist she started seeing after her parents’ deaths (ethics schmethics) she’s recently become mother to eight week old Ella.

It’s just four days before Christmas when we meet Anna and she’s struggling with the first anniversary of her mother’s death. We quickly learn that Anna’s father took his own life 19mths earlier and her mother, suicided in the exact same way 7mths later.

Anna, already struggling with the loss of her father, never accepted that her mother would do something like that, particularly when she knew what it felt like to be left behind.

Anna believes her unease is validated when she receives an anonymous note questioning the verdict of suicide and she takes her concerns to the police.

Knowing his colleagues won’t formally look into the deaths of Anna’s parents without more substantial evidence, former (retired) police officer now civilian desk-jockey Murray Mackenzie decides to tackle the investigation himself. Unofficially.

In addition to Murray and Anna’s voices, we meet Anna’s mother. I was initially a bit worried, as writing from the viewpoint of someone deceased or ethereal can be a challenge and I steer clear of science fiction / fantasy and the like cos I need realism in my reading. (As an aside, when I googled ‘fiction narrated by a dead person’ it was waaaaay more popular than I realised.)

Anyhoo…. There’s no need to worry here. Caroline is forced to look in on her daughter’s life and now hamstrung by Anna’s determination to learn the truth.

You have to move on.

But it’s hard to move on when you’re a non-person; when you’ve left behind the life you knew and haven’t yet begun a fresh one. When you’re stuck in no-man’s land between this life and the next. When you’re dead. p 37

And this… (brilliant opening)

Death does not suit me. I wear it like a borrowed coat; it slips off my shoulders and trails in the dirt. It is ill-fitting. Uncomfortable. p 3

Pragmatic. And perfect for this lover-of-logic.

And finally there’s another voice, a more sinister voice, lurking in the background. Waiting….

Mackintosh again does a great job with the characters. In addition to Anna we meet her partner Mark, her uncle and mother’s goddaughter. And – through memories we learn more about her parents’ courtship and marriage.. although Anna realises she knew little about their fiery relationship.

The cast we’re offered are all complex and – on occasions – pique our suspicions.

Mackintosh’s writing is great and pacing fabulous because we’re lulled into thinking we’re back on an even keel when we’re again flummoxed. (And no, I’m not good at metaphors!)

And that’s her superpower…. her ability to thrown in a twist or ten readers do not see coming. I’d guessed at the first couple (and a therapist would have a field day in working out why I always feel compelled to boast that I’d worked out ‘whodunnit’ in my reviews) but here….. there’s twist upon twist and Mackintosh very expertly reveals each with perfect precision and excellent shock value.

In my little world there are a handful of authors who consistently deliver amazing books; whether it’s the writing or characters or storytelling – or all of the above – and Mackintosh is certainly one of them.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh will be published in Australia by Hachette and available from 8 March 2018.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.



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