Those of you who have occasionally read this blog or chanced upon my Twitter feed will probably know that this was probably my most anticipated book of 2018. Ever since reading her remarkable debut novel, I Let You Go, anything written by Clare Mackintosh has gone straight to the top of my TBR list.
So naturally I began reading it at the earliest opportunity. I had seen so many top reviews over social media, that my expectation levels were very high. And were they met? Well, after being a bit of a slow-burner to begin with, the answer is, absolutely yes!
It feeds on a fascinating concept, and Mackintosh handles a number of sensitive issues with terrific skill and sensitivity. Throughout the course of Let Me Lie, we encounter themes of suicide, grief, alcoholism, and mental health. The way in which Mackintosh handles one character’s Borderline Personality Disorder is very touching and affecting, not to mention written beautifully.
Like I said, the story takes a little bit of time to get up to speed, but once it does, it is a riveting read and I struggled to put the book down. It is tense and unpredictable. There are dramatic events at every turn. There are some trademark twists, as the case unravels towards its shocking conclusion.
So much happens in the final part of the book, it was almost hard to take everything in. All the same, I was captivated by what ultimately became a truly thrilling read.
What is it about?
It is coming up to Christmas, but for Anna Johnson it is a time that marks the first anniversary of the death of her mother, who apparently committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs at Beachy Head. Her father was declared dead in exactly the same circumstances just five months earlier.
Since then, Anna has moved into a relationship with her grief counsellor Mark, and has a baby daughter called Ella. But she still believes that her parents were murdered, and after receiving a message in the post questioning their deaths, she asks the police to re-open their inquiry.
Retired police officer Murray McKenzie is still volunteering with the force, but decides to investigate the deaths of Anna’s parents himself, and goes on to discover that there is something suspicious about them. The case is shrouded in mystery, but gradually his detective skills help to provide the answers.
As Anna continues to pursue the case, she receives an unexpected visitor, the first of many twists which lead her to question her childhood and her relationships, and put her life and that of her daughter in real danger. These all build to a tense and dramatic conclusion.
How does it compare to Clare Mackintosh’s other books?
For me, I Let You Go was one of those phenomenal books that you only come across once in a while. It was amazing, it was extraordinary. And there are many moments in Let Me Lie which manage to emulate that level of brilliance.
This is maybe actually her best written book to date, both in terms of its tone and its maturity. Just like in I Let You Go, the major twist in the novel sees the whole narrative turn on its head and make you question what you have read before.
It is definitely a more impressive book than her second novel, I See You. That in itself was also very good; my problem was that the characters were not well developed, and the concept seemed a little bit far-fetched. There are no such problems here – the characterisation is strong, and runs right at the heart of the novel.
There is a clear pattern emerging with Mackintosh’s work. Each of her books contains a narrator, who is part of an interesting mystery or crime, and also a police investigation concerning it, where she uses her past career as a police officer to great effect. There are major twists that lead towards a gripping conclusion, and the final lines of the novel provides one last sting in the tail, making us all wonder if there will be a sequel.
This is an excellent book. I was very close to giving it a five-star rating, but I settled on four stars, simply because the pacing early on could have been just a little quicker. But as far as book covers go, I have not seen many better!
Now I cannot wait until her next book, however long that may be!