Title: Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Date of Publication: 8th March 2018
Date of Review: 16th April 2018
The police say it was suicide. Anna says it was murder. They’re both wrong.
One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…
This psychological thriller grabs the reader’s attention on the very first page by using a second-person narrative from the perspective of the protagonist’s dead mother, Caroline: ‘You would die for me, and in that moment, I thought I might die for you, too. I just never thought either of us would have to.’ Caroline is addressing her dead husband, providing backstory of their relationship when they were much younger. This reminded me of a contemporary cross-version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. The synopsis tells us this wasn’t suicide, and it wasn’t murder. So what was it? An accident? Are they dead? A while ago, I’d heard that ghost stories were the next ‘in thing’ in the literary world so guessed this was where this was heading. But was I right? Were they living in some kind of limbo in-between world? I was intrigued to say the least.
The reader is acquainted with the protagonist, Anna, in the second chapter, where her first-person narrative continues along the theme of love, this time the bond between mother and daughter; this sets the scene for the story to follow, and Anna’s relationship with Caroline. We’re introduced as to how Anna met the father of her child and straight away I jumped to the conclusion he had something to do with her parent’s death. Then we meet the neighbour and think, no it must have been him. From the synopsis, I guessed this wasn’t a straightforward suicide and was sure one of these two must have had something to do with it. But which one? Then we meet her uncle. No, I reckon it must have been him, I thought. Poor Anna, who can she trust?
When Anna receives a mysterious letter on the first anniversary of her mother’s death, hinting her parent’s didn’t kill themselves, she takes the letter to the police. This is where we’re introduced to Murray, a retired detective now working on the front desk at the local cop shop. Murray is the most likeable character in the story and his relationship with his wife, Sarah, provides a captivating sub-plot. Clare Mackintosh’s three dimensional characterisation of Murray really brought him to life and I could imagine a whole TV detective series based on him. He reminded me a little of Frost; so much so, when I read the book I couldn’t help but visualise David Jason!
I liked how what seemed to be inconsequential incidents, were part of the bigger picture of what happened; and how little things like Murray spotting something but not remembering where he’d seen it before, kept me turning the pages to find out what it was. The author’s in-depth knowledge of police procedures certainly added a further layer to the story.
The plot is riddled with twists and turns, and it’s hard to know who to trust. Like I Let You go, this novel starts with an unreliable narrator, and the theme of mistrust continues throughout, right up to the very shocking end.
This book meets Literature Love’s 5 star rating of:
I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now! As well as having all the elements of a four-star review, this book transcends its genre. The language is original and compelling; characters jumped off the page; and twists in the plot left me gasping. This rare and exceptional book will be put forward for Literature Love’s top 10 books of the year.
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