I Let You Go by Clare Macintosh is even better than JK Rowling’s Career of Evil

Published: November 21, 2016
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I was expecting a fast-paced, rip-roaring thriller with a twist in every chapter yet the first part of the book couldn’t satiate the impulsive reader in me. PHOTO: GOODREADS.

Blustering rain makes the road wet and the view foggy. A mother lets go of her five-year-old son for a minute – and a car mercilessly hits him. Soon after, while Detective Inspector Ray is still working on the hit-and-run, the grieving mother is forced to leave town, as the neighbours blame her for her son’s death. A few months later, Jenna Gray is arrested for the death of five-year-old Jacob.

We all love stories that hold the power to give us goosebumps and sleepless nights. But stories that emerge from the truth leave us with a lot more than just excitement. I Let You Go is Clare Mackintosh’s debut crime novel that is rooted in real life events. This book even beat JK Rowling’s Career of Evil at the Harrogate awards ceremony. I don’t normally go for thrillers, but I was tempted to give it a read when I discovered that the author is a former police officer who was inspired to write this story after witnessing an unsolved murder case.

I was expecting a fast-paced, rip-roaring thriller with a twist in every chapter, yet the first part of the book couldn’t satiate the impulsive reader in me. What I found really impressive was that Mackintosh did not create any outwardly unrealistic characters in this book. There were no super-humans or super-villains – just regular people. Mackintosh makes sure that we see that people in law-enforcing careers are just as human as us. They too, feel the burden of human emotions and the grief related to the countless suffering they witness every day.

The first part of the novel was not too exciting as it revolves around legal procedures, and two passionate detectives struggling with the emotional impact caused by the fruitlessness of their investigation. No surprises there, since the author is an ex-cop herself. Despite the bland nature of the first part, Mackintosh reminds us of the mother’s pain ever so often.

Things start making sense when we get to the second part of the book. The pace catches up and chapter by chapter, the mysteries begin to unfold as we fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of Mackintosh’s narration. We are also introduced to the antagonist’s point of view in the book. I’m not a fan of multiple points of view in fiction, but it was completely justified in this novel. The antagonist’s view added intensity to this aptly written thriller, and was certainly a great tool to help the reader see some haunting and intriguing aspects of human psychology.

The plot is tightly woven and carries intricate details, while it deals with sensitive themes such as domestic abuse and murder. The characters are anything but one-dimensional. We don’t see any unrealistic transformations – no magic spells are being cast, everything is so real. Jenna Gray, the protagonist, is introduced to us as a meek but polite woman who appears to be suffering from a lack of confidence. Mackintosh does justice to her job as a novelist by showing us the complexities of Jenna’s characters which help us relate her disposition with her past experience and her sensitive personality as an artist.

The second part of the novel is a roller-coaster ride between the twisted mind of a psychopath, the fragile heart of a victim, a grieving mother, and the entangled life of a dedicated CID officer striving to achieve a balance between his duty and personal life. With all the twists, turns, and surprises in store for the readers, I Let You Go is recommended to not only those who love thrillers, but those who are invested in realistic plots that’s expose the workings of the human mind.

Zahra Akbar

Zahra Akbar

The author is a student of English Linguistics and Literature at COMSATS. She's a poet, blogger, and hobbyist painter.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.