I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh | Publisher: Penguin Random House
One dark and rainy afternoon, a young mother lets go of her five-year-old son’s hand for just a moment. Jacob runs into the street, is hit by a car, and dies instantly. The driver doesn’t stop.
The first few pages of I Let You Go detail that tragic accident, which happens quickly – too quickly for something with such a lasting and devastating impact. Then the first half of the book continues at a much slower pace as Detective Inspector Ray Stevens tries to find the hit-and-run driver and bring him to justice.
Stevens has always been one to take his cases personally, and this one is no exception. Given the particularly heartbreaking aspects of the case, plus a growing distance between him and his wife, it’s not a surprise when Stevens finds himself inappropriately drawn to his partner, Kate. Their bond is further cemented when after a year of no leads, they find themselves the only two in the department willing to press on and find Jacob’s killer.
Jacob’s death is also the catalyst for a woman to leave all that she has and knows in order to start over. The coastal town of Penfach provides the escape she desires for a time, but the demons of her past and the events of that rainy afternoon are never far behind. Just as she thinks she may have found a way to start over and find a measure of happiness, they catch up to her.
It’s difficult to say more without spoiling the book’s twists, which kick off right around the halfway point. Prior to that, the story was almost too slow with the direction unclear. Stevens’ home life and relationship with Kate weren’t that interesting and bogged down the story I really cared about: Who killed Jacob?
Also, at the time the first big twist occurs, we meet a new character. Their introduction and narration were a bit jarring so far into the book, but it was also a fascinating (and disturbing) look into the mind of someone who plays a major role in the mystery. I found myself wishing we’d met this person a bit earlier in the story.
Mackintosh makes up for the slow first half by revealing the missing pieces in fascinating flashbacks. It doesn’t matter that you can predict a few of the upcoming events because the details of how we get there are terrifying.
I Let You Go = 7.8/10