Book Title: Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 03/13/18
Two years ago, Tom and Caroline Johnson committed suicide, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their adult daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unable to comprehend why they chose to end their lives. Now with a young baby herself, she feels her mother’s presence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as Anna digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her. She soon learns that nothing is as it seemed.
Some authors are a one trick pony; they continue to write the same type of stories for the duration of their career, sometimes successfully and other times not so much. Clare Mackintosh is no such pony; while all three of her novels fall clearly in the crime fiction genre, the style, flow, and thematic elements vary drastically. I highly respect this move-it’s ballsy for an author working within such a rigid genre and she does it beautifully. In fact, I can’t think of many other authors who have been able to carry off such a diverse set of novels and applaud her with the greatest of respect. If you enjoy psychological thrillers that contain aspects of the police procedural realm, these books will be right up your ally.
“Three may keep a secret, it two of them are dead.”
The blurb for Let Me Lie is short, and for good reason. Like the author’s previous novels, this one entices the reader initially with it’s vagueness and ends with a shocking twist, so shocking in fact that a handful of people have messaged me with a “Wait, what just happened?” and I was in that same boat as them. I had to flip back to a certain scene in the story to see what I had missed. For this very reason I’m not going to rehash the summary; you already know that the police think Anna’s parents committed suicide and that she thinks it was murder and the publisher says coyly “BUT IT WAS NEITHER MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA“. I did guess the what (meaning what happened to Anna’s parents) before I even picked up the book, but I didn’t understand the “why” or “how” until I had made good progress in the story. While Mackintosh’s debut I Let You Go will always be a tough one to top in my rating scale, I did find Let Me Lie even more enjoyable than I See You.
You may be surprised that I found the mental health representation my favorite aspect of the novel. While the mystery at hand was nice, I was particularly drawn in to Murray’s personal side story with his wife and her struggles with her diagnosis, as well as the general, overall themes dealing with suicide, anxiety, and depression. I was incredibly moved by this, along with some of the more sensitive details, such as Anna’s journey as a new mother and all the bittersweet parts that go along with it (breastfeeding, exhaustion, postpartum emotions, etc). These components alone deserve a 5 star rating, and her own experience as a mother was evident in her tender, moving writing of Anna’s inner monologue.
My only downside to this one was that it is a very slow burn, and while I expected it to be a slow building suspense, at times I found myself putting it down because I could sense my attention span waning. A few parts dragged and felt like filler to move the story along with no real purpose, but otherwise the story was solid. I’d like to insert that my issues with the slowness and disinterest at points might be due to a looming slump of crime thrillers at the moment. Let Me Lie might simply be the latest victim at no fault of it’s own. Again, the last 25% was classic Clare; her writing had me grasped by the collar of my shirt and I couldn’t swipe the pages fast enough. The final twist was a really nice touch, reminiscent of her first novel and it warmed me down to the bones. If you’re a fan of Mackintosh’s novels, definitely give this a go. Another entertaining mystery from a seasoned vet and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes us next.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy.