Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Clare Mackintosh’s latest novel, ‘Let Me Lie’. Although quite different from her previous two books, I still really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.
One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to mental illnesses, including self-harm and suicide. Also contains references to physical and emotional abuse. Includes references to alcoholism and substance abuse.
‘Let Me Lie’ was released on 8th March 2018, and is Clare Mackintosh’s third Psychological Thriller, following on from ‘I Let You Go’ (2015) and ‘I See You’ (2017). In the past, she spent twelve years working on the police force, and has written for various newspapers and magazines. She lives in North Wales with her family.
The novel has received fantastic reviews from many fellow authors, such as Paula Hawkins: “Tightly plotted, tense and affecting”, Lee Child: “Another one-more-chapter, stay-up-late sensation from Clare Mackintosh”, Gillian McAllister: “Tense and surprising but heartbreaking and sensitively written”, Alice Feeney: “Compelling, twisty and wickedly good”, and Louise Candlish: “Let Me Lie is a triumph for Clare Mackintosh and a must read for 2018”.
‘Let Me Lie’ follows the life of Anna, one year after her parents chose to end their lives by jumping from the cliffs on Beachy Head, England. Anna now has her own baby, but she simply cannot come to terms with the verdict of suicide, and believes there may be more to her parents’ deaths. Then one day, she receives an anonymous note through her door, and everything changes…
The narrative is mainly told from the perspectives of Anna and Murray Mackenzie, with some short chapter sections told from an unknown narrator. The use of the first-person provides the reader with a deep insight into the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings. The narrative is written in the present tense, but does include references to events that have happened in the past. The narrative is relatively simple and straight-forward, but there is still the added mystery of who the unknown narrator is.
As you can probably guess, Anna was my favourite character in the novel. Now a mother with a young baby, she will do anything to protect her child, and simply cannot understand why her parents chose to leave her alone in the world. She’s a very troubled character who struggles to cope with her grief, often being overly-sensitive and in a state of despair. But she’s also determined and strong-willed, and follows her gut feeling that there is more to her parents death than suicide. It broke my heart to read all about the struggles she has as a new mother so soon after the death of her own – she often blames herself and is victim to a vicious mental cycle. She’s an extremely realistic character, and I think Mackintosh perfectly captures the character of a grieving adult daughter.
Murray is another lovely character, and I really liked him (it’s pretty hard to pick between Murray and Anna!) He’s a retired policeman who takes the suicide of the Johnson parents into his own hands – even though he really doesn’t have to. Diving headfirst into this case relieves him from the pain of his home life: his wife Sarah has Borderline Personality Disorder and spends her time in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Murray is an extremely kind, hard-working character who clearly wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s a fantastic policeman and a pillar to the community.
Anna’s partner Mark is a decent man and very supportive of Anna, but he believes she needs to accept the verdict of suicide. He’s a counsellor and often tries to analyse Anna, slipping from “husband” mode into “counsellor” mode during their conversations. I found him to be an extremely frustrating character! Murray’s wife Sarah is suffering greatly with a complex mental illness, but she helps Murray out and takes a keen interest in the Johnson case. She really broke my heart and I felt so much sympathy for her. Other characters in the novel include: Laura (Anna’s friend), Uncle Billy (Anna’s uncle), Robert (Anna’s neighbour), and various other members of the police force.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) As you can probably tell just from the blurb, this novel explores the theme of suicide in great detail, including an in-depth examination of the emotions that are evoked when a loved one commits suicide. The novel also explores some complex mental illnesses, such as depression and Borderline Personality Disorder, including references to self-harm, psychiatric hospitals and various suicide attempts. The novel also explores the theme of domestic abuse in detail, including both physical and emotional abuse within relationships. Finally, the novel also sheds light on the issue of alcoholism and substance abuse. Although there are a lot of difficult subjects addressed in the book, Mackintosh’s treatment of these issues is sensitive and appropriate.
The two narratives motor onward, increasing in tension and suspense. Anna’s life is turned upside-down by a sudden revelation and she must learn to adjust with this new information – but it soon becomes clear that there’s still more to this story that must be unravelled. Murray becomes more and more involved in the Johnson case, and he must put in all his effort to solve the case. But it’s proving much more difficult than he first anticipated…
So, let’s talk about the ending. There are multiple twists towards the end of the novel, and everything goes wrong for pretty much all of the characters! Everything reaches an almighty climax, before the pieces of the puzzle finally click into place and the story makes sense. In my honest opinion, I felt a bit let down by the ending. I felt it was overly-dramatic and there was far too much going on, leaving me feeling confused and conflicted at multiple points. But perhaps you’ll enjoy the ending more than I did!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy Psychological Thrillers, particularly those that are a bit slower in pace. You need to be able to deal with the difficult issues that are addressed within the novel, as it makes for a dark, upsetting read at times. I felt very emotional at many points whilst reading, but I managed to push on and finish the book. A truly fantastic read for the most part, even though I was slightly disappointed by the ending.
Happy reading 🙂