Rating: 5 stars
Anna Johnson’s parents have both committed suicide, just seven months apart, and on the anniversary of her mother’s death she receives several cards, one of which is a garish Happy Anniversary card, inside containing the typed words: Suicide? Think again.
Let Me Lie gives us Anna’s narrative as she struggles to deal with a multitude of factors: her parents’ deaths; the looming failure of their business, now run by her uncle Billy; her partner, Mark, whom she met as a therapist under a year before; and her two-month-old baby.
The other narrator is apparently a ghost – that of one of Anna’s parents:
On the day of my death I walked the tightrope between the two worlds, the safety net in tatters beneath me. This way safety; that way danger.
What happens next to Anna comes about from her reporting of the card at the local police station, to Murray Mackenzie, a former detective who now works in a civilian capacity. Murray’s own narrative then winds in and through those of Anna and her dead parent, as the tale swiftly moves through the next few days, culminating on the last day of the year, with fireworks appropriately exploding around them.
Clare Mackintosh brings many twists and turns to this plot, and it’s impossible to know whose explanation of events to believe. We feel enormous sympathy for Anna and for Murray, who has what could most simply be described as a “difficult” marriage. His wife Sarah is central to the book and she has a key role to play in explaining the mystery; her illness is sympathetically portrayed, as is Murray’s understanding of it and of her. Anna relies heavily on three people: Billy, Mark, and old family friend Laura. By turns we trust and mistrust all three, as they weave through the rapidly churning developments.
Mackintosh has a great talent for writing novels which grip readers and keep them enthralled and mystified. If you’re at all like me, though, it’s best not to read this late at night, as parts of it are not conducive to sleep. And beware, there’s a final twist right at the very end, which will probably give you the shivers and make your spine tingle with dread.
Reviewed by Daisy