Let Me Lie – Clare Mackintosh

Rating: 5 stars

let me lie.jpgAnna 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.

I stepped.

I died.

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.

Daisy Chapter and VerseReviewed by Daisy

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I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

Rating: 4.5 stars

I Let You Go.jpgPublished in hardback in 2014, this first novel written by Clare Mackintosh has now sold over a million copies and won the Crime Novel of the Year award last year. Clare has plenty of experience of crime investigations, having worked in the police for twelve years, including time in the CID, so the police attempts to solve the shocking event that happens in the opening pages ring utterly true, including the inevitable worries about understaffing and overtime costs, both of which naturally affect the course of the police investigation which follows.

Initially, I was confused between the voice of the first person narrative sections – a young woman whose son has died and who is fleeing her past – and the third person narrative sections following the police officers’ working to get justice for a dead boy and his grieving mother. Then suddenly the novel really clicked in and I read it compulsively, adjusting between the different voices and shifting of times back and forth to build a horrifying and compelling picture of the events leading up to and following the horror of the prologue. By the final chapters I felt as if I were living alongside the terrified young woman, too scared to breathe, needing to run but petrified of moving an inch.

The plot twists are unexpected and shocking, and at the same time utterly plausible. I sympathised with the police struggling to keep going through their heavy workload, while trying also to maintain a grip on their family lives.

Read this: but I strongly recommend not too late at night if you’re at all of a nervous disposition.

Daisy Chapter and VerseReviewed by Daisy

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