Review – I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

By | April 14, 2015

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 Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh has been available as a Kindle download since November, but is due for publication as a paperback (published by Sphere) on 7th May. People have been talking about it so much online that I really thought it really was time I read it – I enjoy a good thriller, and it looked like this one would fit the bill. 

I went out for lunch on Sunday with friends who love their reading as much as I do. Before going, I’d just got to the much mentioned “twist” at the halfway point.  I’d honestly been a tad disappointed – it wasn’t as much of an OMG moment for me as it seemed to have been for some other readers, and I’d decided that the whole thing had been (I’ll be honest) a little overhyped. That’s what I told my lunch friends – and we moved on to chat about books we had enjoyed, and ordered our lunch. 

OK, so why, on Monday, did I fail to tackle anything on my “to do” list and walk around with red tinged eyes? Because the twist to this book wasn’t really that OMG moment at all – the twist was really that from that point on this became a totally different book, one that I had to get to the last page of just to see how it all turned out. 

It was 2.15(am) when I finished – and then I couldn’t sleep because all my emotions were so churned up by what I’d just read. It was truly excellent – gripping, dark and terrifying. I totally forgive Clare Mackintosh that rather slow, gentle first half – in fact I understand entirely why it had to be. If you love your thrillers… well, just make sure you don’t miss this one!

There was one aspect of the book that really did hooked me from the start. The story of the associated police investigation is told in real time in a narrative thread that runs right through the book, and it’s very well done. And of course, it’s not just an account of the police investigation, it’s all about the people involved in it. DI Ray Stevens is so lovely: he tries to do the right thing by everyone, so uncomfortable with his attraction to Katie (his young constable), his excellent relationship with wife Mags (who is a wonderful character in her own right, however peripheral to the action), and all his family problems, as well as his struggles with the politics that seem to plague police operations.

I think I’ve been a bit disparaging about the first half of the book, and I really shouldn’t have been. The incident itself is really well handled – I experienced the moment, and really felt the pain of Jacob’s mother. When Jenna moves to Wales, I loved the characters and the settings – as a Welsh person myself Iestyn the landlord leapt off the page, Bethan was equally wonderful, and I loved her relationship with Patrick the vet (if she ever throws him aside, I’d like his contact details please…). I also loved the original idea through which Jenna makes her living – if someone isn’t doing this already I’m ready to pick up my camera and stay in one of Bethan’s caravans.

Ok, so let’s draw this to a conclusion. If you like your thrillers, you must read this – otherwise you’ll have missed out on quite an experience. Forget that twist thing – it’s not that important, but what comes after it is.  Enjoy Ray – I adored him. And try not to read this book until 2.15am – you won’t sleep (I know these things).  

Well done Clare – this is a truly excellent thriller. And when you consider it’s a debut, it’s thoroughly amazing. I wish you every success.

My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading e-copy.


Clare Mackintosh is an author, feature writer and columnist. She has written for The Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, The Green Parent, and many other national publications, and is a columnist for Cotswold Life and Writing Magazine.

Clare spent twelve years in the police force, working on CID, in custody and as a public order commander, and has drawn on her experiences for her d├ębut psychological thriller I Let You Go. She is currently writing her second novel, out next year.

2 thoughts on “Review – I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

  1. Anne Williams

    Thanks for that, Jess – I've followed your blog. Funnily enough, I'm halfway through her new one, I See You, out in July. It's absolutely fantastic…!

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