Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Published: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Little Brown Group via Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Rating: 5 stars
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
‘I only let go for a second’ languishes the mother of five year old Jacob Jordan, who’s son is the victim of a hit and run accident, on a cold winter’s night in Bristol, England. The pain of a mother, who in a split second let’s go of her son’s hand as he crosses the road, is one that will haunt her for the rest of her life, along with those impacted by this horrific accident. I Let You Go is British author Clare Mackintosh’s intense debut psychological thriller, which also crosses into the mystery based, police procedural territory.
Following the tragic death due to a hit and run accident of five year old Jacob Jordan, his mother disappears, blaming herself for his death. With the investigation hitting a dead end, despite the dedication and tireless work of Detective Inspector Ray Stevens and his team, the case is swept under the carpet, to make way for more high profile cases. It is a decision that haunts one of the constables on Jacob’s case, Kate Evans. Kate and the lead detective Ray, both vow to fight for justice for Jacob. His little broken body, at the hands of a cowardly driver, remains vivid in their minds.
Jenna Gray is a sculptor, who one day packs up her life in Bristol and makes the move to a remote coastal village in Wales. Escaping her marriage and past hurts, Jenna finds solace in an isolated and cold stone cottage in Penfach. That winter is a cold and lonely one for Jenna, as she tries to hide from a terrible secret that haunts her thoughts, day and night. Eventually, as the warmer weather dawns and summer makes its entrance, Jenna’s life brightens. She adopts an abandoned puppy, which gives Jenna vital life to care for. This also leads Jenna into the arms of a gentle local vet Patrick, who offers her friendship, as well as love. Jenna continues to obstruct her past from Patrick, but one day two police officers knocking on the door of her sanctuary in Wales ensures that her awful secret must come to light. Just what did Jenna do?
I seem to have read Clare Mackintosh’s books in reverse order, as I read her most recent release, I See You earlier on in the year. I and other readers who have done this need not worry, as Clare Mackintosh’s two releases are completely different tales. Both books do illustrate Mackintosh’s ability to deliver an accomplished psychological thriller, with strong police procedural elements.
The opening to this book is a gut wrenching one, as the reader becomes the witness to a heartless hit and run accident. This scene in particular hit a little too close to home for me, as the victim of the hit and run is the same age as my own son. While reading this scene and immediately after, it got my mind ticking over about my son’s road sense and my own responsibility as a mum in negotiating crossing roads with my son. I came to the conclusion that Mackintosh presents the reader with a realistic portrayal of an event that is every parent’s nightmare. Reading a little about the author and her background in the police force for many years, this story germinated from an actual real life hit and run accident of a nine year old boy. It was a case which Mackintosh and her team were never able to solve. This experience clearly informed the dramatic opening plot scene of I Let You Go.
I Let You Go is told from a number of viewpoints, from Jenna, a sculptor making a new life for herself in Penfach, through to police officers Ray and Kate, to Jenna’s husband. Jenna’s husband’s voice does not make an entry in later in the novel but Mackintosh does this for strategic plot reasons. Once his story becomes clear, the cogs start to click into place. I Let You Go is a book that plot wise never suffers from a sag or dip. The pace is also relentless and intense. The last quarter or so of the novel had me flicking through the pages as fast as I could go, as I wanted to see how it all panned out. Mackintosh is adept in delivering shocking plot twists, as well as warping events and characters in a way that we are offered an intricate puzzle to solve.
Whilst the plot is a cunning one, the characters are what makes this novel a solid read. Jenna is a character who is clearly flawed, but I felt drawn to her and her subsequent healing process. I also wanted to learn more about her past life, which Mackintosh delivers very gradually. Jenna is supported by side characters, such as the quirky community members of Penfach, who despite having a lesser role in the plot, appeared well formed. The introduction of Patrick, Jenna’s potential love interest, offers some light in this mostly dark tale. The haunted as well as motivated police officers involved in the case, Ray, Kate and Stumpy are authentic. These characters offer the reader an alternative perspective of what it is like to work behind the scenes of a hit and run, sadly involving a small child.
I could continue to write so much more about I Let You Go, which I believe is a sensational debut novel from Clare Mackintosh. If you are a fan of astute psychological thrillers and appreciate a good injection of realistic police procedural work, then this book would be the ideal choice. I Let You Go gets solid five stars from me.
I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh was published in Australia on the 12th May 2015 Little Brown Group via Hachette Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh, visit here.