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I LET YOU GO by Clare Mackintosh: Book Review

A mother and her young son are walking home from his school on a rainy afternoon in Bristol, England.  Across the street from their house she lets go of his hand, knowing his eagerness to get into their kitchen for a snack and a few minutes of television.  As he shouts, “I’ll race you, Mummy,” he darts across the road and into the path of a speeding car.  Instead of stopping, the auto backs up the street, makes a quick U-turn, and vanishes into the darkness.

The hit-and-run case lands on the desk of Detective Inspector Ray Stevens.  He and his team, and especially his young protégée Kate, are determined to find the driver, but there are few clues to follow.  Jacob’s mother is in shock, understandably so, and there is no father in the picture.  There were no witnesses, and the car appears to have left no traces on the street.  The only thing of note is that Jacob’s mother says that the car was speeding, rather than attempting to stop, when it hit her son, but that really doesn’t help the investigators at all.

As is not uncommon in this age of social media, it doesn’t take long for a backlash to appear on various web sites.  Opinions were voiced about the mother’s carelessness, her unfitness, her faults.  And when the police return to question her again, she has disappeared.  The boy’s school, his doctor, their neighbors, no one has seen her in days.  So after several weeks, Ray gets the order from the police chief to close the case, and he has no choice but to obey.

At home, things are not much better.  Ray’s wife Mags, a former police officer and now a stay-at-home mother, is getting fed up with Ray’s seeming lack of involvement with his family.  He’s spending long hours at work and forgetting important appointments they made together.  Most seriously, their teenage son Tom is having difficulties at school, skipping classes, and refusing to say what’s bothering him.  Is it typical teenage behavior or something more serious?

To add to this is Ray’s growing attraction to his subordinate, Kate.  She’s everything that Mags is seemingly not.  Kate’s young, with a free lifestyle, and is obviously attracted to Ray.  He can feel himself sliding down a slippery slope, but does he want to stop himself before things go too far?

Clare Mackintosh has written a fantastic thriller.  The characters and plot are totally realistic, and the desperate situations in which people find themselves could have been taken from today’s newspaper headlines anywhere in the world.  Also, the way the book is narrated is perfect; I can’t say any more without spoiling it for you, so you’ll have to trust me.  I Let You Go is a novel you can’t stop reading.

You can read more about Claire Mackintosh at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.