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?
I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood Review
Tense and Twisty but Deliciously Delivered
This book is not a debut, but in a way, I was as apprehensive about reading this book as I am when I pick up a new author for the first time.
What can I expect? Will it live up to the hype surrounding it?
Surely, having read Imrans first (utterly captivating) novel, I should have expected the talent to be on the page?
The problem is, Imrans’ debut novel You Don’t Know Me was such a break from the norm and so exquisitely written, I was honestly concerned he may have set the bar too high. Second-book syndrome is as much a worry for readers as it is for writers.
As I tentatively read the first few pages of I Know What I Saw, I held my breath.
The two books are entirely different. In style, in approach, in atmosphere… entirely different, and yet I can hear Imrans voice all over the words on the page. It was like being welcomed home by an old friend.
I love thrillers, I love crime novels, procedurals, suspense… but this… this is a cross-genre all of its own making. Imran Mahmood creates a thriller that is so enshrouded in beautiful prose that he seamlessly blends elements of literary writing into the tense, gritty and dramatic thriller genre.
Throughout the novel, the issue is never really ‘what’ happened… as a reader, we are pretty sure we believe Xander when he says he knows he saw a murder. The issue is ‘when, how and who’.
A departure from the courtroom of his first novel, Mahmood thrusts us onto the dirty, dark, and dangerous streets of London as we watch Xander try to piece together the fragments of his broken mind to solve a murder he has witnessed. A murder that has truly affected him. But his time on the streets has messed with his mind. Can he really trust his own memories?
Although the setting and storylines are entirely different from his first novel, one thing remains a heavy marker with both… the main characters suck you in from the very first page. Xander isn’t just a vagrant on the streets, begging for money and sleeping in the park. In a way, I wonder if we would have connected with him in the same way if he had been… I wondered if I would have been as compelled to know his story had he been an alcoholic or drug addict who just couldn’t trust his own thoughts, or if the fact that this man had clearly had a very accomplished life beforehand led me to want to believe his stories for him.
Xanders back story is deep, dark, and deeply troubled. A young man, professional and capable, one who studied Maths at Cambridge and lived a comfortable life, one day ends up on the cold dangerous streets of London, but out of choice!
Why did he turn his back on everything comfortable and seek out an invisible life on the streets, and what is it about this murder that has him so emotionally connected?
I Know What I Saw is a tense, emotional, and fast-paced thriller. One that is littered with painful but beautiful prose, written to keep you connected to well-drawn characters. It is what I can only describe as a perfectly created and incredibly well-plotted, twisting tale of one mans need to piece together his past to be able to face up to his future and hopefully find peace in a very broken world.
It is atmospheric, gritty, emotional… and absolutely lives up to the hype. I could not recommend this book, or indeed this author highly enough.
Many Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers and Bloomsbury Raven for inviting us on this Blog Tour.
I Know What I Saw is published by: Bloomsbury Raven