I’m is my pleasure to join the blog tour for All I Said Was True, the latest offering from Imran Mahmood. I’ve loved the author’s previous books and was really looking forward to seeing what tangled web he set before us this time around. My thanks to publisher Raven Books for the advance copy of the book and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the tour invite. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
I didn’t kill her. Trust me…
When Amy Blahn died on a London rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. Layla was holding her. But all she can say when she’s arrested is that ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’
The problem is, the police can’t find him – they aren’t even sure he exists.
Layla knows she only has forty-eight hours to convince the police that bringing in the man she knows only as ‘Michael’ will clear her name and reveal a dangerous game affecting not just Amy and Layla, but her husband Russell and countless others.
But as the detectives begin to uncover the whole truth about what happened to Amy, Layla will soon have to decide: how much of that truth can she really risk being exposed?
I’m just going to call it. Imran Mahmood is the king of the unreliable narrator. Whether it is down to his career experience – and I have no idea which side of the law he practices – but be it corporate or criminal law, he has no doubt come across more than the occasional character who chooses to stretch the truth to suit their own ends. Wherever his inspiration is drawn from, he excels are giving us characters whose word we cannot necessarily trust and yet we find ourselves strangely drawn to anyway, compelled by their plight and intrigued by their story. That is certainly true of the protagonist of All I Said Was True, Layla who, in spite of the absolute certainty dictated by the title of this book, skirts around which portions of the ‘truth’ she is willing to disclose. It makes for one heck of a mystery and one hell of a story, in a book which kept me absolutely gripped and allowed me to consume it’s secrets within just one day.
When we meet Layla, it’s fair to say that she is in somewhat of a predicament. Arrested on suspicion of murder. There is no doubt she was found with the victim – she was the person who called the police after all. But she claims not to know the woman who died in her arms, and has no plausible explanation as to how she came to be in the same place at the same time, other than to bid the police to find the mysterious ‘Michael’, a man whose information she cannot give them but who she claims to be the key to the whole case. You can tell from the very start that Layla is lying by omission, but just why and why she will not help plead her own case more successfully remains to be seen.
Imran Mahmood has a talent for creating characters who you may not always trust but who I find myself instinctively drawn to. Layla is far from perfect, and whilst there are elements of her character which do make her appear to be a victim, I also felt that there was far more to her than meets the eye. Bored by her work, struggling through a rocky patch both personally and professionally, meeting the strange and ever present Michael certainly changes her life, and not necessarily for the better. He, in himself, is a strange personality, hard to get a reading on, but someone whose motives I never entirely trusted. Whether my misgivings proved founded or not you would need to read to find out, but nothing about this whole messy story is as simple as it seems. Corporate misdeeds, personal indiscretions and the whole plethora of misgivings, mistrust and misunderstandings have the tension and the mystery flying off the charts.
Did I always understand Layla’s actions? Not in the slightest. I had no clue as to why she didn’t do more to defend herself, to help the police, given her constant protestations of innocence. But as the story unfolds, told through a series of flashback scenes and scenes which are set during Layla’s prolonged detention and formal interview, things started to become clearer. Sort of. For whilst Imran Mahmood provided an explanation for certain aspects of the case, he muddied the waters in others, bringing Layla’s strange an increasingly irrational behaviour to the forefront of our attention. And given certain aspects of Layla’s home life, you’d be forgiven for thinking there may just be an element of truth to the police’s assertions.
I really enjoyed this book, the back and forth and the subterfuge of it all. It’s packed with suspense and mystery, a slow growing tension which peaks are key points throughout the narrative only to wane a touch as the author builds towards a dramatic and completely unexpected ending. Unexpected but not unwelcome. I had an inkling about aspects of the big reveals early on in the book, but not in a way that spoiled my enjoyment of it, and with pitch perfect pacing, I absolutely tore through the story in no time.
Another absolute belter of a story from an author who never fails to surprise and entertain. Tense, with a complex narrative that twists and turns with the same chaotic precision as spaghetti junction, and characters who you can never truly trust, fans of the author are sure to love All I Said Was True. An easy and most definite recommendation.
About the Author
Imran Mahmood is a practicing barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. His previous novels have been highly critically acclaimed: You Don’t Know Me was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice, Goldsboro Book of the Month and was shortlisted for the Glass Bell Award; both this and I Know What I Saw were longlisted for Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Gold Dagger. You Don’t Know Me was also made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of their regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.
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