Author : Imran Mahmood
Title : I Know What I Saw
Pages : 400
Publisher : Bloomsbury / Raven Books
Publication date : June 10, 2021
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Xander Shute – once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets – shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat. When he hears the occupants returning home, he scrambles to hide. Trapped in his hiding place, he hears the couple argue, and 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 is he willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?
| MY THOUGHTS |
I can’t really tell you why it has taken me so long to pick up a novel by Imran Mahmood, especially since I’ve had this one and his debut ‘You Don’t Know Me‘ on my shelves for ages. But I have now corrected the errors of my ways!
Xander Shute has been living on the streets of London for thirty years. One night, he seeks shelter from the rain in an empty flat in Mayfair. Xander has to hide when the occupants return home and while trapped in his hiding place behind a Chesterfield sofa, he witnesses the murder of a woman. Who was she? Who is the man who killed her? Xander does the right thing and informs the police, but they don’t believe his account of events and seem unwilling to help, leaving Xander to try and find out the truth about that night by himself.
Where to even begin? I was quite honestly absolutely blown away by the plotting in this novel. It’s massively unpredictable and even when I thought I had an inkling as to what was going on, something would happen that made me doubt things all over again. All of this is due to the immensely complex character of Xander. Once a wealthy banker, something made him decide to live on the streets. He doesn’t need to. He could quite easily get a well-paying job and lead a “normal” life but he chooses not to. He needs open spaces, he needs to walk freely, relying on nobody but himself and his own wits, and sometimes the kindness of a neighbourhood kid called Amit.
Obviously there’s a story there that will explain why Xander ended up on the streets. It seamlessly ties in with the events he has witnessed, which you’ll have to discover for yourselves. Is Xander a reliable narrator, though? Often it seems as if even he himself can’t depend on the reliability of his own memories so how can the reader trust what he’s saying? Xander is forced to face some very harsh truths about his past life and how he ended up where he did.
I think it’s human to change the narrative of our lives sometimes. To maybe embellish some things or make other things more exciting. Sometimes we just remember things differently than the reality, through no fault of our own. Memories are often unreliable. But in Xander’s case it becomes clear quite early on that there is much more going on in his head than merely misremembering things. His thought-process is often extremely disconnected, he seems to lose chunks of time and it all adds to the immense intensity of this story. I couldn’t decide if he was suffering from a concussion or if this was just who he was.
There isn’t just a mystery to solve here. ‘I Know What You Saw‘ is a compelling and powerful story about a broken, troubled and damaged man in search of answers. It’s a slow-burner but boy, does it pay off in the end. Despite his many issues, Xander is a character to root for. Yet at the same time you worry about the things he might discover. ‘I Know What You Saw‘ is very cleverly done, immensely absorbing with incredible writing throughout. I dare say Imran Mahmood is definitely a force to be reckoned with and a rather unique voice in the crime fiction genre. An author to watch for sure!
20 Books of Summer : 13/20