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I Know What I Saw Audio CD – Unabridged, 1 November 2021
'Clever, mercilessly addictive and deeply thought-provoking.' -- Chris Whitaker, author of All the Wicked Girls
'Intelligent and thought-provoking, it marks a welcome return for a supremely talented writer.' -- Abir Mukherjee, author of A Rising Man
- Publisher : Bolinda/Audible audio; Unabridged edition (1 November 2021)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1867580985
- ISBN-13 : 978-1867580980
- Dimensions : 13.2 x 1.4 x 12.2 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Mahmood has mastered the art of making us feel empathy for his very damaged main character, which is not easy to achieve. When I was in Xander’s head, I felt the same sense of confusion and terror his fractured mind conjured up. I found Xander’s quest for the truth, in spite of the personal threat this presented for him, moving and heart breaking, especially as more of his own history was revealed through flashbacks to his past. Even though I knew that nothing good could possibly come out of it, I was still floored by the final reveal.
I KNOW WHAT I SAW is a slower, character driven psychological thriller that will put you into the mind of a tormented, traumatised soul. It is clever and multi-layered, making me guess to the very end, though I had my suspicions. Xander Shute is a unique character who doesn’t really fit any of the popular tropes, which made this one especially intriguing. Once I got into the story I could not tear myself away. Pick up this book if you are looking for an original psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator who will have you question everything you have read.
Xander Shute was once an intelligent, wealthy and successful banker. He had it all. Now he struggles to stay alive, living on the street and fighting for a place to sleep. After an altercation in the park, he finds wheat he believes is an empty flat and falls asleep. He wakes to find that he is not alone and witnesses a murder. Scared, he flees the scene. But police catch up with him and he tells his story, only for them to charge him with wasting police time. He is adamant, he knows what he saw. As he battles his own demons and past, the truth of what happened that night slowly becomes clear.
Top reviews from other countries
The central character in I Know What I Saw, Xander Shute is a compelling, memorable protagonist but as quickly becomes apparent, his thirty years living on the streets has resulted in a man whose mind has become fragile and inconsistent. We realise this right from the start of the book when an altercation over a prime sleeping spot turns violent and Xander is forced to run. A head injury exacerbates his state of confusion but after he seeks shelter in what he believes to be an empty house and subsequently witnesses a shocking murder, his uncertain memories lead to him being forced to confront a past he has been avoiding for years.
He reports the murder to the police but upon investigation, it becomes clear that he is an implausible witness and subsequently, throughout the book, the first-person perspective of this most unreliable of narrators ensures we share his frustration as his memories remain tantalisingly just out of reach while increasingly questioning what his truth really is. We know that he was educated at Cambridge and became a successful investment banker. However, his wealth, good friends and relationship with the beautiful Grace weren't enough to protect him from a tragedy which led to his decision to leave everything behind and become voluntarily homeless.
I was deeply moved by Imran Mahmood's perceptive understanding of what life on the streets is like; from the practical considerations - assessing which areas are safest, how to maintain some semblance of warmth, where to find food, to the emotional toll of homelessness - becoming invisible or shunned by society, the creeping entrenchment of rough sleeping where eventually a learned fear of other people and being inside leads to claustrophobia and a need to feel grounded on the streets. Xander is perhaps a more acceptable face of homelessness in some respects as he isn't a drug addict or alcoholic but equally, there are those who will find it harder to accept why a man who seemingly had everything would end up living like this.
As the novel progresses, he gradually begins to piece together fragments of his past but although he recalls the troubled, intense relationship he had with his brother, Rory amidst the darker memories of his father, he struggles to remember exactly what he saw when he witnessed the murder. His increasing desperation to discover the truth reveals a man tormented by the brutality of his past and by his daily struggle just to stay alive but determined to investigate and to confront these haunting snatches of memory which may condemn him or set him free. The progressively suspenseful storyline is as moving as it is intriguing and quite fittingly, I found it playing on my mind even when I wasn't reading it.
Such an intensely character-driven story is necessarily slower paced but I Know What I Saw is still a tense, twisting novel with an unflinching, eye-opening sense of place. Beautifully, searingly honest and observant, this powerfully poignant, intelligent thriller surprised and captivated me. Utterly outstanding.
One day, an agitated Xander wanders into a police station to report that he has witnessed a woman being murdered. He gives the police the address where the murder has occurred and urges them to attend immediately.
The police respond, but are baffled. There is no body, no murder scene - but there had been one found at that address - thirty years ago. And so, this historic mystery begins to unfold.
The author has conjured up a superb crime thriller for his second outing. It is full of characters, both likeable and despicable. Along with a main character who the reader will want to shake to keep him focused in order to concentrate his mind.
As the story unfolds, you begin to question your own memory and beliefs and wonder what distorted truths may lie buried just out of reach within your own psyche. Memories that only your dreams may hint at.
An excellent, thrilling, yet occasionally frustrating novel that will keep you guessing about what really happened on that fateful night all those years ago. Believe me, you’ll change your mind so many times your head will be spinning!
I won’t give up though, the style of writing was superb! Looking forward to the next one.