Wow, April is turning out to be a great month for reading! I Let You Go has such a fresh feel it could have been hung on a line to dry in the spring sunshine. This is a book that defies my (very) simple genre split, feeling part psychological thriller and part police procedural which apart from making me pause to check I was still reading the same book on my kindle the first time the switch happened, works exceptionally well.
The book opens with a police investigation into the death of five-year-old Jacob who was killed by a hit-and-run driver capably led by the principled Detective Inspector Ray Stevens, his Detective Sergeant Jake Owen, better known as Stumpy and the new addition to the team, the eager Kate. The team are soon given some extra resources as the media and the top brass heap pressure on the team to find the culprit.
We then meet Jenna who following the accident has retreated from life and she’s taken herself just about as far off the beaten track as she can to a small cottage in Wales where she takes time to heal away from the memories taking one small box of precious items that she simply couldn’t part with.
The pacing of this book is fantastic as the switching between viewpoints as the police become more dispirited while Jenna slowly begins to heal, keeps the momentum going and had me longing to know how the story was going to play out. All I can say is although I identified some aspects I couldn’t predict more than a couple of pages ahead of me at any point, especially when the book moves to the second half, by which time it was impossible to put the book aside for anything or anyone.
The characters are extremely well-drawn and realistic and for those readers who need to identify with their protagonists Jenna whilst damaged, is extremely likable, the police for the most-part agreeable a crew that you would happily sit down and have a chat with. In the newer traditions of police procedurals we get to know Ray through his home-life as well as the investigation and see him balancing the job with the demands of family life with his wife Mags left to run things while he works long hours. It was no surprise when I read up on the author to find that she had worked in CID for twelve years, as the small touches can only ever have come from someone who has lived the life.
In Wales we also meet some brilliant characters with the locals cautiously welcoming Jenna from Iestyn whose cottage she rents to the woman who runs the local grocery store and Beth Morgan owner of the caravan park, empty due to it being out of season, who takes the newcomer under her wing and is one of life’s nice people, are all well-rounded and life-like characters. There is even a bit of romance thrown in. This leads me to one of the reasons this book works so well, there is plenty of detail which is written into the story-line naturally so that I was kept constantly interested in what was going on. Refreshingly, this is a book that is far from formulaic but doesn’t rely on style to get it noticed, it doesn’t need to the talent is obvious from the tragic opening until the very last page.
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Little Brown Book Group UK for not only publishing this excellent debut novel but allowing me to read a copy ahead of publication on 23 April 2015.