I saw it. He smothered her, pressing his hands on her face. The police don’t believe me, they say it’s impossible – but I know what I saw.
This is Xander Shute: once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets.
As he shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat, he hears its occupants returning home, and scrambles to hide as the couple argue. Trapped in his hiding place, he soon finds himself witnessing a vicious murder.
But who was the dead woman, who the police later tell him can’t have been there? And why is the man Xander saw her with evading justice?
As Xander searches for answers, his memory of the crime comes under scrutiny, forcing him to confront his long-buried past and the stories he’s told about himself.
How much he is willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?
This is Imran Mahmood’s second novel following the success of You Don’t Know Me in 2017. Having read and enjoyed that book, I was keen to read this follow-up.
The storytelling here is great, as Xander’s past is hinted at from the start but only revealed slowly and carefully, leaving the reader wondering what has happened for him to find himself in his current predicament. Every time I thought I had guessed what might have been going on, it turned out I didn’t, wrong footed both by Xander’s sketchy memories and Mahmood’s twisty plot.
I found it a really compelling read and was immersed in the story pretty quickly. The writing is great and characters well formed and believable. Xander in particular is great, someone we sympathise with as he tries to understand what has happened, what he has seen and what he should do. I won’t say too much about the plot for risk of spoiling anything, I’ll say that the ending stayed with me.
This for me was an improvement on the author’s debut. though that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy that one too. I’ll certainly be on the look out for his next work.
Who would like this book?
I’d recommend this to Crime Fiction fans, especially fans of UK Crime Fiction.
10th June 2021