I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

 

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Cover: 7/10. Bit wishy-washy and I think it could have suited the content better.

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she? 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’d heard a lot about I Let You Go – working in publishing, you get a bit anti-hype when it comes to reading recommendations – but I asked to borrow it on a whim. As soon as I started it, I was hooked on Mackintosh’s pacey writing style and the mystery of who was behind the wheel of a car when, on one rainy November night, it mowed down and killed a five-year-old boy.

I Let You Go is told from two different viewpoints. The first is from protagonist Jenna, who is reeling after the loss of her child. She makes the snap decision to up sticks and leave her hometown completely, moving to somewhere no-one will know or even recognise her. The other is told from the perspective of DI Ray, who’s on the police force working to solve the death of five-year-old Jacob. They haven’t much to go on; it was dark and rainy that night, with few witnesses and little debris left at the scene. But Ray and DC Kate are determined to crack the case, even when Ray’s superiors instruct them to close the case months after it stays unsolved. However, a new piece of evidence leads a determined Kate down a new trail – and one that’s about to lead to results…

… Meanwhile, as Ray and Kate close in, Jenna has settled in a remote cottage, away from everyone she knows. After spending months keeping everyone at arm’s length, she starts to open up to people – becoming friends with the locals and starting a relationship with a  vet. She even adopts a dog and starts up a new business whilst she decorates the cottage, transitioning it from a temporary habitat into a cosy home. Bit by bit, she’s building a new life for herself – but just as everything is falling into place, a knock on the door is about to shatter it all into pieces…

As Mackintosh inches each storyline closer to the novel’s gripping denouement, readers are lulled into a clever twist that forces them to re-examine everything they’ve read so far. (I confess: I wondered if I’d been reading the whole book wrong and was tempted to go back and start again.) As one of the character’s backstory unfolds, it becomes clear who the real culprit of Jacob’s death is – whilst an innocent person is sitting on trial for it…

Will the truth unravel in time, or is the wrong person about to be put behind bars for something they didn’t do? Can Jenna move forward with her new life, or will she always be forced to live in her painful past?

Intricate, skillfully written and with a genuine ‘I HAD NO IDEA’ plot twist that will leave you open-mouthed, I Let You Go surely deserves every accolade its gotten so far – and then some. Authentically informed by Mackintosh’s former career as a CID officer, and made even more poignant by her own son’s untimely death, this book is genuinely hard to let go.

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