Read I Let You Go Online

Authors: Clare Mackintosh

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological Thrillers, #Suspense, #Contemporary Fiction, #Literary, #Detective, #Psychological, #Crime Fiction, #Thrillers

I Let You Go

BOOK: I Let You Go
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
About the Author

Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time. She is the founder of Chipping Norton Literary Festival and lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their three children.



Published by Sphere


ISBN: 9780751554175


All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Copyright © Clare Mackintosh 2014


The moral right of the author has been asserted.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.


The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.



Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY



About the Author






Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21


Part Two

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53



Author’s Note

For Alex.


I always used to read the acknowledgements pages of books and wonder how on earth so many people could be involved in the creation of a single piece of work. Now I understand. I am hugely grateful to the early readers of
I Let You Go
– Julie Cohen, AJ Pearce, Merilyn Davies and others, who helped me see what was working and what wasn’t, and to Peta Nightingale and Araminta Whitley, for believing in me. I am fortunate to have the wonderful Sheila Crowley as my literary agent, but I would never have met her had it not been for a chance conversation with Vivienne Wordley, who liked my manuscript enough to pass it on. Thank you Vivienne, Sheila, Rebecca and the rest of the Curtis Brown team, for everything that you do. You could not have found a better home for me than Little, Brown. I loved the brilliant Lucy Malagoni the moment I met her, and couldn’t wish for a more insightful and enthusiastic editor. Thank you Lucy, Thalia, Anne, Sarah, Kirsteen, and the rest of Little, Brown, including the wonderful foreign rights team, all of whom are terribly busy, but manage to make me feel as though this is the only book they’re working on.

Thank you to former colleagues Mary Langford and Kelly Hobson: Mary for reading an early draft, and Kelly for some last-minute help with procedure. Finally, thank you to the friends and family who always believed in me; who supported me when I decided to jack in a good career and write books instead, and who never once suggested I should go and get a proper job. I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – have done it without the support of my husband Rob, and our three children, Josh, Evie and Georgie, who have cheered me on from the sidelines, brought me cups of tea, and looked after themselves while I ‘just finish this chapter’. Thank you all so much.


The wind flicks wet hair across her face, and she screws up her eyes against the rain. Weather like this makes everyone hurry; scurrying past on slippery pavements with chins buried into collars. Passing cars send spray over their shoes; the noise from the traffic making it impossible for her to hear more than a few words of the chattering update that began the moment the school gates opened. The words burst from him without a break, mixed up and back to front in the excitement of this new world into which he is growing. She makes out something about a best friend; a project on space; a new teacher, and she looks down and smiles at his excitement, ignoring the cold that weaves its way through her scarf. The boy grins back and tips up his head to taste the rain; wet eyelashes forming dark clumps around his eyes.

‘And I can write my name, Mummy!’

‘You clever boy,’ she says, stopping to kiss him fiercely on his damp forehead. ‘Will you show me when we get home?’

They walk as quickly as five-year-old legs will allow, her free hand holding his bag, which bangs against her knees.

Nearly home.

Headlights glint on wet tarmac, the dazzle blinding them every few seconds. Waiting for a break in the traffic they duck across the busy road, and she tightens her grip on the small hand inside the soft woollen glove, so he has to run to keep up. Sodden leaves cling to the railings, their bright colours darkening to a dull brown.

They reach the quiet street where home lies just around the corner, its seductive warmth a welcome thought. Secure in the environs of her own neighbourhood she lets go of his hand to push away the strands of wet hair from her eyes, laughing at the cascade of droplets it causes.

‘There,’ she says, as they make the final turn. ‘I left the light on for us.’

Across the street, a red-brick house. Two bedrooms, the tiniest kitchen, and a garden crammed with pots she always means to fill with flowers. Just the two of them.

‘I’ll race you, Mummy…’

He never stops moving; full of energy from the second he wakes until the moment his head hits the pillow. Always jumping, always running.

‘Come on!’

It happens in a heartbeat; the feeling of space by her side as he runs towards home, seeking out the warmth of the hall, with its porch-light glow. Milk; biscuit; twenty minutes of television; fish-fingers for tea. The routine they have fallen into so quickly, barely halfway through that first term at school.


The car comes from nowhere. The squeal of wet brakes, the thud of a five-year-old boy hitting the windscreen and the spin of his body before it slams on to the road. Running after him, in front of the still-moving car. Slipping and falling heavily on to outstretched hands, the impact taking her breath away.

It’s over in a heartbeat.

She crouches beside him, searching frantically for a pulse. Watches her breath form a solitary white cloud in the air. Sees the dark shadow form beneath his head and hears her own wail as though it comes from someone else. She looks up at the blurred windscreen, its wipers sending arcs of water into the darkening night, and she screams at the unseen driver to help her.

Leaning forward to warm the boy with her body, she holds her coat open over them both, its hem drinking surface water from the road. And as she kisses him and begs him to wake, the pool of yellow light that envelops them shrinks to a narrow beam; the car backs up the street. Engine whining in admonishment, the car makes two, three, four attempts to turn in the narrow street, scraping in its haste against one of the huge sycamore sentries lining the road.

And then it is dark.


Detective Inspector Ray Stevens stood next to the window and contemplated his office chair, on which an arm had been broken for at least a year. Until now he had simply taken the pragmatic approach of not leaning on the left side, but while he was at lunch someone had scrawled ‘defective’ in black marker pen across the back of it. Ray wondered if Business Support’s newfound enthusiasm for equipment audits would extend to a replacement, or whether he was destined to run Bristol CID from a chair that cast serious doubts over his credibility.

Leaning forward to find a marker pen in his chaotic top drawer, Ray crouched down and changed the label to ‘detective’. The door to his office opened and he hastily stood up, replacing the lid on the pen.

‘Ah, Kate, I was just…’ He stopped, recognising the look on her face almost before he saw the Command and Control printout in her hand. ‘What have you got?’

‘A hit-and-run in Fishponds, guv. Five-year-old boy killed.’

Ray stretched out a hand for the piece of paper and scanned it, while Kate stood awkwardly in the doorway. Fresh from shift, she had only been on CID for a couple of months and was still finding her feet. She was good though: better than she knew.

‘No registration number?’

‘Not as far as we know. Shift have got the scene contained and the skipper’s taking a statement from the child’s mother as we speak. She’s badly in shock, as you can imagine.’

‘Are you all right to stay late?’ Ray asked, but Kate was nodding before he’d even finished the question. They exchanged half-smiles in mutual acknowledgement of the adrenalin rush it always felt so wrong to enjoy when something so horrific had happened.

‘Right then, let’s go.’


They nodded a greeting to the throng of smokers clustered under cover by the back door.

‘All right, Stumpy?’ Ray said. ‘I’m taking Kate out to the Fishponds hit-and-run. Can you get on to Area Intelligence and see if anything’s come in yet?’

‘Will do.’ The older man took a final drag of his roll-up. Detective Sergeant Jake Owen had been called Stumpy for so much of his career that it was always a surprise to hear his full name read out in court. A man of few words, Stumpy had more war stories than he chose to share, and was without a shadow of a doubt Ray’s best DS. The two men had been on shift together for several years, and with a strength that belied his small stature, Stumpy was a handy crewmate to have on your side.

In addition to Kate, Stumpy’s team included the steady Malcolm Johnson and young Dave Hillsdon, an enthusiastic but maverick DC, whose determined efforts to secure convictions sailed a little too close to the wind for Ray’s liking. Together they made a good team, and Kate was learning fast from them. She had a fiery passion that made Ray nostalgic for his days as a hungry DC, before seventeen years of bureaucracy had ground him down.


Kate drove the unmarked Corsa through mounting rush-hour traffic to Fishponds. She was an impatient driver; tutting when a red light held them back, and craning her neck to see past a hold-up. She was perpetually in motion: tapping fingers on the steering wheel, screwing up her nose, shifting in her seat. As the traffic started moving again, she leaned forward as though the action would propel them along faster.

‘Missing blues and twos?’ Ray said.

Kate grinned. ‘Maybe a bit.’ There was eye-liner smudged around her eyes, but otherwise her face was clean of make-up. Dark brown curls fell messily about her face, despite the tortoiseshell clip presumably intended to hold them back.

Ray fished for his mobile to make the necessary calls, confirming that the Collision Investigation Unit was en route, the duty superintendent had been informed, and that someone had called out the Ops wagon – a lumbering vehicle stuffed to the gunnels with tenting, emergency lights and hot drinks. Everything had been done. In all honesty, he thought, it always had been, but as duty DI the buck stopped with him. There was usually a bit of hackle-rising from shift when CID turned up and started going over old ground, but that was just the way it had to be. They’d all been through it; even Ray, who had spent as little time in uniform as possible before moving on.

BOOK: I Let You Go
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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