For the most part, I am strictly a fantasy reader, with the occasional sci-fi thrown in. However, a few weeks ago my twitter feed was bombarded with reviews, comments and promo for I Let You Go. I will admit, I succumbed to the peer pressure and acquired a copy.
And holy smokes was I glad I did.
When I read the blurb, I thought it was another mystery book featuring an aging detective trying to solve a crime. Fairly standard. I will admit that it wasn’t this element of the book which kept me interested. I actually found Ray to be a fairly unlikeable character. It was the first person chapters, from the point of view of Jenna, which kept me hooked. Mackintosh writes with such raw emotion, that your hearts bleeds for this woman who is trying to piece her life back together. Jenna escapes to rural Wales in an attempt to flee her memories of the incident that resulted in the death of five year old Jacob. She makes friends, builds a business and more importantly starts to find herself. But then everything changed at the end of part one.
I won’t spoil it, but this was my reaction.
I actually went back to the start of the book so I could better piece together this twist. And it was so clever; the foreshadowing, the small clues- they all lead to this revelation but at no point do you see it coming. The second part is a whirlwind of three different narratives giving small reveals and piecing the story together. But it is expertly done. I only guessed one of the twists partially and it did not happen at all in the way I expected it. It is very hard to discuss the story without giving anything away, but I will try my best.
As a lay-psychologist, it does annoy me when people write characters in a very stereotypical way, particularly those with mental illness or personality disorders. However, Macintosh gets her characters spot on. Jenna is clearly suffering from PTSD after the accident and while at no point is this is acknowledged it makes her character all the more real. One of the characters in the second part is also fantastically written; so much so it is chilling. Given the accuracy of the character-type of this individual, whose chapters are told in second person narrative, I think they must be heavily based on people Mackintosh met through her work in the police force. This makes the person all the more horrible, knowing that there are people like that out there. There is one particular point which made me want to pull them out of the book and physically hurt them.
I have read books that have flitted between first person and third person and they have been so-so. If anyone had told me that using first, second and third person chapters in a book worked, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet, Mackintosh makes it work. The only part of the book I did dislike were the third person chapters that focused on the detective Ray. Like I said, I did not like him. He is the stereotype of a detective: family at home, working long hours, fairly bored at life and his eye is caught by the pretty young thing on his team. It is less though that this is a flaw in Mackintosh’s writing, more a flaw typical of the average middle class, middle age man. He does seem to have some character development towards the end though for which I am pleased.
I guess the main take away for this review is how much I loved it. I think I might actually get it for my mum for her birthday next month (she loves crime stories). I quite literally read this book all day, I did not want to put it down. And that is in my opinion the mark of a truly great book.