Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on I Let You Go.
There are three elements to this tale, three hints about the story gleaned from the back cover: the hit-and-run of a five-year-old boy; the flight of a frightened woman to the Welsh coast; and a mutual attraction that complicates the lives of two Bristol detectives assigned to the fatal hit-and-run case. A novel that really aspires to be a thriller begins with the night of the accident and the boy’s death, the traumatized mother unable to remember any details beyond the sound of the vehicle hitting her son’s body. Bristol CID uses all available resources, Detective Inspector Ray Stevens encouraging new
squad member Detective Constable Kate Evans. Her enthusiasm reminds him of his own early career, one that has since grown stale.
Chapters segue between the investigation
(and the growing attraction between Ray and Kate) and the runaway woman, Jenna Gray, who has left everything behind in Bristol, including the painful memories that have set her upon this path of a new identity. Jenna walks into
the remote seaside village of Penfach, where the owner of a local store suggests a cottage she might rent. The newcomer is grateful to have found this place, shabby and humble, well-suited to the rocky coast;
the rhythm of the waves sooth her soul. Though never really gone, before long her nightmares diminish.
She is inspired by the landscape’s savage beauty to photograph the constantly changing patterns of sand and sea. Best of all, she is left in isolation unless she seeks the company of the few that inhabit Penfach until the busy tourist season. Jenna keeps her secrets, retaining the air of mystery that has not dissipated since her stealthy arrival.
The investigation into the hit-and-run achieves no results. Soon other cases demand attention.
Though CID moves on to newer cases, neither Ray nor Kate has been able to forget the boy’s untimely death or the thought that his killer remains free. Stevens is overworked, stressed. and feeling the pressure of a man devoting more energy to his job than his family. While his wife,
former detective Mags, tries not to complain at the long hours away from home, increasing trouble with their adolescent son worries both parents. Ray sometimes hides behind the problems at work to avoid the emotional complications of marriage and fatherhood.
This novel is pregnant with secrets and violence, threat evidenced by the behavior of primary characters. Detective Inspector Ray Stevens buries his personal issues in investigative work, pursuing a closed case with Kate while ignoring the orders of a superior. Jenna Gray keeps her secrets, willing to pay the consequences of her actions. In the course of too many complications, the plot flounders. It seems as though the author gets lost in the details of her story, overwhelmed with a surfeit of emotions and nowhere to properly fit them, a case of too many options and not enough restraint. To be sure, there is no lack of violence, an aura of threat that lives beyond the savage denouement, a menace that haunts beyond the last page.