I Let You Go

i let you goPublished: 2014
Author: Clare Mackintosh

Tense and atmospheric psychological thriller – don’t miss it


The other day I reviewed Clare Donoghue’s brilliant crime novel No Place to Die and declared it to be my favourite book of the year so far. It really was, until the very next book I read. Clare Mackintosh’s amazing I Let You Go is not just my favourite book of this year (so far) but one of the best I’ve read in a very long time.

A rainy afternoon in Bristol sees a tragic accident – a mum lets go of her child’s hand for a minute, just to wipe the wet hair out of her eyes. In that time a car comes out of nowhere, slams into five year old Jacob killing him instantly and reverses away from the accident. Jenna Gray’s life is changed forever in that minute and she can no longer bear to stay in her home and community. Her grief, guilt and pain are so powerful that she hides herself away in a small, coastal Welsh town where no-one knows her and she can come to terms with Jacob’s death.

The story is told from a number of viewpoints. The predominant narrative comes from Jenna’s first person account of grief and the third person account of the police investigation which appears to have no leads and no way to find Jacob’s killer.

The two strands come together to create a fabulous mixture of psychological thriller and police procedural. Jenna’s grief is raw and painful to experience, anyone who has lost someone they love will recognise the emptiness that Jenna feels. She is an immensely sympathetic character and a couple of times I came close to tears as she described her emotions. The police procedural elements are also gripping, in particular the frustration felt by junior officers when told to close an investigation for political and financial reasons come across brilliantly well.

Mackintosh used her personal experiences both as a former police officer and as a bereaved mother in the creation of I Let You Go and because of this honesty, everything here has the touch of authenticity. We fully believe in Jenna and the police officers investigating Jacob’s killing. Other knowledge gleaned from Mackintosh’s time in the police force is used to devastating effect in a number of shocking scenes.

There are a couple of literally breath-taking twists. I gasped out loud a number of times and re-read pages to make sure that I hadn’t got things wrong. The twists, however, never feel out of place or designed for shock effect. Everything here moves the narrative forward and helps us to understand the characters and their motivations a little more.

I loved this book, I found it impossible to put down and was having to ration myself to a chapter at a time so that I could get on with some work. I raced through it, desperate to know what would happen next.  I Let You Go is a magnificent example of a first novel, using her own knowledge and experience Mackintosh hits the reader hard and leaves them gasping for air. This is a brilliantly tense, atmospheric and moving story which I’m already expecting to see on my top reads of 2015 list at the end of the year.


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  1. i like the sound of this book. Will add to my list!

  2. im currently reading this book and have just got to the plot twist at the end of part 1, however I’m reading it on a kindle so can’t go back to re-read, so frustrating! Was I mad for thinking what I thought the whole way through part 1 or is that how the book is written? To make me think that way, I don’t think I can put it down now ?

    • I know exactly how you feel. When I finished part 1 I had to read the previous pages about 5 times. Yes, I think you’re supposed to think what you thought…

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