Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

9781101987490I love a good multi-layered mystery and that’s what I got with  I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray, a ceramist who moves to a ramshackle cottage in the remote town of Penfach to escape the memory of a recent car accident. Jenna is desperate to heal from the loss of her child and a painful past.

At the same time, a pair of Bristol detectives tries to get to the bottom of the hit-and-run. As they chase lead after lead, they are drawn to each other in the twist-filled case before them.

Mackintosh has a firm grasp of the subject matter. Follow her Twitter and Instagram accounts and you can see from her bio that’s she’s an ex-cop. The afterward of this book is also really insightful as to where the inspiration for this story came from. Although well-versed in the procedure; this novel is less about the officers and more about the people involved in the case.

I Let You Go is marketed as the next book for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the TrainThis is a phrase I am always a little bit apprehensive to hear. When a book is compared to another bestseller I always think it raises the readers’ expectations. While I Let You Go is a page-turner it doesn’t hold the same stand-offish tone that I found in Flynn’s work. In fact, I liked I Let You Go better than the novels that it’s being compared to.

You might know my sorted history with Gone Girl, but with this book I was a little more open. From the description, I thought that it may themes of maternal bonds, grief, and loss, and it did. As I started reading I didn’t find myself comparing the book to Gone Girl at all. If anything it felt more like Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.

I think that part of the reason I felt that way was because the detectives didn’t seem like whole characters to me. While I love DI Stevens, his wife Mags, and his two kids, they had a function in the story: to solve the case. While we got a bit about Ray trying to stay in the Chief’s good graces for a promotion, and his son Tom’s adjustment to a new school, we didn’t really connect with Ray on the same emotional level as we did Jenna.

I felt the same way about Kate Evans. She was the new girl on the block, but her dogged pursuit of the truth in regards to the death of Jacob Jordan was relatable. I wondered if the case would have been better told in the first person, from her point of view?

The disconnect from the two detectives may have been intentional. For the most part, Mackintosh tells the story in the first person, but when it comes to the detectives it shifts to the third person. As a reader, we are clearly following Ray but the shifts in perspective took some time to get used to.

Furthermore, the relationship between Kate and Ray was a footnote. Granted, I didn’t read this book for Kate and Ray’s relationship, but their attraction seems to be a gimmick with no real build up.

The real reason to read the book is Jenna. When I first picked up the book I was drawn to her artistic personality and her desire to run away from it all, but things aren’t as they seem and Jenna is running from much more than a dead child. She is a dimensional character with a conscience and a fully developed history. It is hard not to love her and when the book is finished, you won’t want to leave her.

In the end, any apprehension I had about the book was pushed away by my desire to keep reading. Every free moment I had, I picked up this thriller to get the next bit of story, and it never disappointed. While I may have started off apprehensive about this story, all of that was washed away at the end. It is the perfect blend of romance and suspense and it’s a great read for the poolside or on a vacation.

If you are debating putting in a pre-order, don’t! Order it now. You won’t regret it. Just a couple days ago, I Let You Go was included on the longlist for Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award!  (Other writers on the longlist include J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith.

Final Rating: 4 stars

I Let You Go comes out May 3rd, 2016. Purchase this book on Amazon or at your local independent bookseller.

Published by Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser is a fiction writer and essayist. She is an associate editor at Tell-Tale TV, where she writes about all things tv. She has had fiction appear in five : 2 : one magazine’s #thesideshow and her nonfiction has appeared in Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. You can find her talking about tv, film, and knitting on Twitter @LaurenBusser.

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