I have to confess, I love a good psychological thriller and this is a good’un. Melding together different themes and viewpoints driving to a taut and emotional conclusion, I’m so pleased this debut completely lived up to the hype.
A tragic hit-and-run in winter time Bristol leaves a five-year-old boy dead and his young mother devastated. Detective Inspector Ray Stevens is put on the case, heading up a team to try to track down the driver of the car with very little in the way of witnesses or evidence to go on. Meanwhile, sculptor Jenna Gray is so traumatised by the events that she chooses to completely walk away from her life – leaving the city of Bristol for a rural Welsh cottage by the sea.
Shifting between the police force’s investigation and Jenna’s attempt to start her life afresh, this accomplished debut author melds a tense police procedural drama with an emotional psychological thriller, creating a story which was completely gripping from start to finish. She breathes life into all of the characters – not just Jenna and Ray but more minor players too; Jenna’s friend Bethan who runs the caravan park by the beach, the kind vet who helps her when she finds a puppy abandoned and all of Ray’s police force felt incredibly realistic and well-drawn. I was so absorbed in both the police investigation and Jenna’s tender reconnection to society as she began to move on from her loss that I didn’t see the twist coming in a million years.
Similarly to many psychological thrillers released in the last last couple of years, I Let You Go has been compared to Gone Girl. But, unlike most of the empty comparisons plastered on book jackets, I can see the similarities here. Not because the stories are particular similar, but the one thing they have in common is an ingenious, mind-bending twist right in the heart of the novel, where the narration completely changes tack and turns everything you’ve read so far on its head. It had me flipping back over the pages to see how I’d missed it, but the writer uses subtle misdirection to make the reader believe the story has unfolded the way they would expect it to; It’s clever, very clever. And because of that big twist, it’s difficult to review without giving too much away. I’d just recommend you read it yourself because, for a debut, it’s pretty phenomenal.