The Queen of the plot twist has done it again!
Two years ago, I read Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel “I let you go“. It contained what was for me, a ‘gasp’, jaw-dropping plot twist, and I considered it to be one of my favorite reads for that year. Her second novel, “I see you“, which I read last year I enjoyed just as much as the first. Now with her third novel, I realize that this author is unlikely to disappoint me.
When I first started reading this book I thought the author had changed tactics by adding a supernatural element to her story. I was wrong. She has a way of carefully leading you down one path, then letting you know that you were a naive fool to have followed her. After three novels I should know better. LOL
Set in East Sussex, the novel features Anna Johnson, a new mother to two-month-old Ella. Anna lives with Mark Hemmings, the baby’s father, in the home where she grew up. She has inherited the house after her parents commit suicide just seven months apart. Both jumped to their deaths from the suicide hot-spot, Beachy Head.
Anna and Mark are coping well with their new parental role. Until… On the first anniversary of her mother’s death Anna receives an anniversary card with the words: “Suicide? Think again.“
Distraught, Anna goes to the police with the card. She encounters a civilian police officer who takes her claims seriously. Murray Mackenzie, now working on the desk as a civilian, was once a respected detective. Retired from the CID, he now works in this capacity to fill the long hours. His wife, Sarah, is mentally ill and is oftentimes living at a nearby psychiatric hospital.
“Murray had the skills, and he had the time. Lots and lots of time.”
Murray believes Anna’s claims that her parents would never have commit suicide. He combs the old files and learns that the policemen in charge of the cases might have taken the easy way out, and, with no refuting evidence, closed the cases prematurely.
When Murray contacts Anna again, she tells him to forget about it and hangs up on him. This arouses his copper instincts further. Why would she be so adamant one day, then want him to drop the whole thing the next?
“Some secrets shouldn’t be shared outside the family. Others shouldn’t be shared at all.”
Anna now keeps a vital secret from Mark. Then, when the Christmas season is in full swing and tensions are running high, someone throws a brick through the window of Ella’s nursery. Luckily the baby was not in her cot at the time. But what if???? This time it is Mark who contacts the police. Only this time he goes through more official channels – which ends up getting Murray Mackenzie in a spot of bother…
“…how can you know someone all of your life, yet not know them at all?”
Who could be threatening Anna and her family? Her parents’ death has left her a very wealthy woman. If they didn’t commit suicide, have they been murdered? Or, are they dead at all?
Once again, Clare Mackintosh has written a novel in which I liked most of the characters. Even the ones I really shouldn’t have liked. My very favorite character though was the retired policeman, Murray Mackenzie. This novel contains two powerful plot twists, one I suspected, the other one came as a complete surprise.
“Let me lie” is another well written thriller by former policewoman Clare Mackintosh. She knows how to entangle her readers with expert characterization and devious plot twists. She seems to understand the motives behind crimes – crimes of all sorts. This is a novel of betrayal, deception, avarice, bitterness, and revenge. Most of all though, it is a story of family secrets of the most serious kind. Oh, and of lies – deadly lies.
Highly recommended to readers who like psychological thrillers with surprising twists.
I am grateful to Berkley Publishing via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this enjoyable novel.
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 psychological thrillers. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time. Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller for 12 weeks, and was the fastest selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club and ITV’s Loose Women’s ‘Loose Books’, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. It has sold more than a million copies worldwide. In July 2016 Clare received the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award, and won the Cognac Prix du Polar for International Novel of the Year that autumn. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.