Let Me Lie
I fell in love with Clare Mackintosh’s writing last year with the release of I See You, which was one of my favorite thrillers of 2017. Ever since then, I’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for the author’s next book, so I jumped at the chance to review Let Me Lie.
Everyone says Anna’s parents took their own lives, but she can’t bring herself to believe it. Sure, their deaths, just a few months apart, may look to the world like suicides, and Anna’s convinced there’s more to the story. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who thinks so. The police seem uninterested in reopening the case, and even Anna’s boyfriend Mark has grown tired of her constant speculations about what really happened to her parents. And so, Anna is doing her best to move on, to focus on her baby daughter, and to put the ghosts of her past to rest.
An unknown individual has other ideas, though. One afternoon, Anna receives a very strange letter, confirming her suspicions that her parents did not in fact commit suicide. Feeling a mix of vindication and fear, Anna rushes off to the police station, sure she’s found the one thing that will convince them to reopen their investigation into her parents’ deaths, but it’s not an actual police officer she ends up talking to. Instead, she tells her story to retired cop Murray, who decides to look into things on his own before turning the investigation over to the appropriate people. At first, this turn of events felt off to me. Murray doesn’t come clean to Anna about his status as a retired policeman, instead allowing her to think she’s speaking to a fully-fledged officer. Plus, since Murray is retired, how is he able to properly investigate Anna’s story without proper police backing? Luckily, Ms. Mackintosh gives Murray a fantastic backstory that answered all of my questions, and in fact, the chapters told from his point of view ended up being some of my favorite parts of the book; but more on that in a bit.
After her visit to the station and her discussion with Murray, Anna feels as though she’s been given permission to dig into her parents’ pasts. Maybe she’ll turn something up that will be of help in the investigation, but as is usual in these types of situations, her poking around unearths far more questions than answers. It soon becomes obvious that her parents were not the people she thought they were, and in fact, at least one of them was harboring a terrible, possibly deadly, secret.
Most of the story is told from Anna’s point of view, but we do spend quite a bit of time with Murray as well, and as I stated above, his chapters are some of the best parts of the novel. He feels rather aimless after he retires from the police force, so stays on as a sort of office worker in a vain attempt to fill his empty days. His wife Sarah is in and out of a nearby mental hospital, so he really depends on his work to add some structure to his life. Not all of his actions are entirely ethical, but Ms. Mackintosh does a wonderful job helping readers understand why Murray acts as he does, and I found it impossible to dislike him. There’s a sense of genuine kindness about him that I found incredibly endearing, and the scenes he shares with Sarah are gut-wrenchingly beautiful.
Anna is also quite relatable. At first, it seemed as if she was going to give in to Mark when it came to his not wanting her to ask questions about her parents’ deaths, and I was prepared to do a lot of sighing and eye-rolling, but she turned out to have a stronger will than I initially thought and I was glad she didn’t allow Mark to stand in her way. The love she feels for her parents is quite evident, and I admired her determination to learn the truth, even if it ended up being quite a bit uglier than she expected.
The plot is very complex and twisty, but not all of the twists felt authentic. The build-up is wonderful, but the big reveals didn’t end up being quite as surprising as I expected. I think the author was going for something really dark and sinister, but certain aspects put me in mind of a bad TV villain.
Let Me Lie isn’t as good as other psychological thrillers I’ve read, but it’s not a total flop either. It’s one of those books I couldn’t turn away from, no matter how unrealistic certain plot elements seemed. It contains a good amount of action mixed with some fabulous character development, and, on the whole, I’m glad I read it.