I read relatively few thrillers, psychological or otherwise, these days – but if there’s one author who will always be able to lure me back to the dark side it’s Clare Mackintosh. Her new book, Let Me Lie, is published tomorrow – and I’m delighted to have been lucky enough (with thanks to publishers Sphere/Little, Brown and netgalley) to read an early copy. I loved I Let You Go, not for its big twist but for what came afterwards (you’ll find my review here): I liked I See You even more, and still shiver at the thought of it every time I travel on the underground (review here). So, has Clare Mackintosh done it again?
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, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .
As I read rather fewer thrillers than some, I must say that I raced through the first half of this book – I forced myself to put it down when I noticed the clock creeping towards 3am. By that point, I had 15 different theories of my own about how this book was going to turn out, had identified at least half a dozen people I thought were distinctly suspect, and had firmly decided that I loved retired police officer Murray – who agrees to investigate the closed case – and his relationship with his troubled wife.
The following night I read to the finish, pages turning faster and faster… and I am, of course, going to tell you nothing about the story. But there’s not just one jaw-dropping twist in this book, there’s a whole series of them – a very clever dance with smoke and mirrors, and an explosive climax that won’t disappoint anyone. I very much liked the structure of this book, told mainly from the viewpoints of Anna and Murray – with other short chapters from an intriguing third person, gradually revealed. The writing is as excellent as always – I particularly liked the strong sense of place, the relationships between the characters.
So has Clare Mackintosh done it again? I think I have to say yes, she probably has. Or then again, for me, maybe not quite. My reservations aren’t around the pacing – it is maybe a little slow at times, but for building tension and understanding the characters that’s just fine – or the multiple twists of the story. It’s just that I perhaps wasn’t as engaged by the story of Anna as I felt I really should have been – it was Murray who constantly drew my eye, his was the story that engaged me emotionally, and his is the story that will linger longest in my memory.
About the author
Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant and is the founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She now writes full time and lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club (and was the winning title of the readers’ vote for the summer 2015 selection) and for ITV’s Loose Women’s Loose Books. It is a New York Times bestseller, with translation rights sold to more than 30 countries.
Her second psychological thriller, I See You, was a number 1 Sunday Times bestseller and Audible’s best selling psychological thriller in 2016. Translation rights have been sold to almost 30 countries.
Clare is the patron of the Silver Star Society, an Oxford-based charity which supports the work carried out in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Silver Star unit, providing special care for mothers with medical complications during pregnancy.