Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on I Know What I Saw, the latest novel from Imran Mahmood. I absolutely loved You Don’t Know Me, so I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while. My thanks to publisher Raven Books for the advance copy for review. For those who want to know more about the book and the author, Imran Mahmood will be appearing at First Monday Crime on 7th June, and you can find out all the details on the FMC FaceBook Page. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
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?
Well this was a complete change of pace compared to the courtroom based drama of the author’s first novel. I think for me, the reason I loved the styling of You Don’t Know Me was because I listened to the audio and believe me, that is a book that needs to be performed. In many ways, this book is similar in that we are treated to single narrator, first person perspective, but rather than the lion’s share of the action taking place in an enclosed courtroom, the drama in this book plays out in Xander’s world. As a homeless man, there are no limits as to where this might take him, or the reader, and it makes for a very intriguing and mystery laden read.
The basic premise is as the blurb suggests. Xander witnesses a murder, and yet he cannot get anyone to believe him. And as you read the book you can probably understand why that might be the case. There are a lot of mitigating factors at play, and it is not just the police refusing to listen the the supposed ramblings of a homeless man. Imran Mahmood has look in depth at Xander’s character, his backstory and his present life, and there is much which sets the alarm bells ringing making him appear to be a potentially unreliable narrator. And yet there is such conviction in his manner, in the way he is portrayed, his assertions, that the lines between fact and fiction are very quickly and very skilfully blurred.
There are many elements to this book, complex relationships and situations, which slowly come to inform the overall story. I loved the beautiful way in which Imran Mahmood develops his narrative, the acute sense of place and the credible way in which he portrays Xander’s situation and the many reasons he may not be believed. There is that element of dismissal due to his status, but there is so much more too, and as a reader I was struck with a constant sense that there was a vital piece of information adrift, that missing puzzle piece that is necessary to complete the full picture. It is a book which is both tender and intense. That has mystery and emotion. And the ending is both unexpected and, perhaps, exactly what I knew it would be. It is bound to be another success, demonstrating that this is an author who knows how to deliver a brilliant story. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Imran is a practicing barrister with almost 30 years’ experience fighting cases in court. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters. His debut novel You Don’t Know Me was chosen by Simon Mayo as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017 and longlisted for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and is currently being adapted for screen in four parts. When not in court or writing novels he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors.
About First Monday Crime
First Monday Crime is a regular night of all things crime fiction, bringing together some top authors and allowing readers to learn more about their books. Because of Covid, all events are currently taking place on Facebook live, with the next event schedule for Monday 7th June at 19:30, over on the First Monday Crime Facebook Page. The even this month will see Imran Mahmood (I Know What I Saw), Jo Spain (The Perfect Lie), Dorothy Koomson (I Know What You’ve Done) and Patricia Marques (The Colours of Death) talk all about their latest releases.