Penguin Publishing Group: 5/3/16
eBook review copy; 384 pages
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is a highly recommended novel about a tragic accident and secrets.
In the opening of I Let You Go Jacob, a 5-year-old boy, is killed by a hit and run driver in Bristol. His mother let go of his hand, for just a moment, and he dashed ahead of her, into the street. The police have a headline-grabbing complicated case they must try to solve with very few good clues and no good witnesses. People are weighing in with their own opinions, saying that the mother should not have let go of his hand. If she had held his hand, Jacob would still be alive.
In the meantime, Jenna Gray, a sculptor, is haunted by Jacob's death. She runs away to live in a rented cottage in the remote coastal town of Penfach, Wales. It is Jenna's plan to start over here, in this remote area where no one has heard of Jacob and the horrific hit-and-run accident that changed her life. She wanders the cliffs and shoreline, using photography as a way to help her recover.
The Bristol CID team headed by DI Ray Stevens, and assisted by long-time friend and investigator Stumpy and rookie DC Kate Evans. The team is doing all they can to try and dig up new information that will lead them to the hit and run driver. It doesn't help the investigation that Jacob's mother has disappeared, unable to handle the criticism that she is partially to blame for his death because she let go of his hand.
Chapters in the first part of the novel alternated between what is happening in the investigation, and of the personal life of Ray Stevens, and Jenna's life. Then the novel throws a big mind-bending deviation half way through. Once you start down that path, expect several other twists and complications before you reach the end. I can't say anything else because experiencing the shocking twists are what make this novel worth reading.
I Let You Go is a well written, complex who-done-it with plenty of layers to the plot. Mackintosh does an excellent job in this debut novel. The plot twists are surprising, but not contrived, which increases the tension and should hold your rapt attention through to the end. The character of Jenna and Ray are well developed; they are flawed characters with a depth that lends them realism. For me, the only kink in an otherwise exemplary novel was the relationship between Ray and Kate.