Title: I KNOW WHAT I SAW
Author: Imran Mahmood
Read: September 2021
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
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.
I am always looking for psychological thrillers who are a bit different than the rest, and I KNOW WHAT I SAW perfectly fitted that bill. Xander, a homeless man with obvious psychological problems, made for the perfect unreliable character who constantly threw everything into doubt. There were so many intriguing threads to the story: how did a super intelligent, educated and well-off man end up living on the streets for 20 years? Why did his relationship with his partner end, and where is she now? What happened to his brother, Rory? What did he really witness that night? Because Xander’s memory is patchy, and he has trauma related problems that interfere with his ability to recall events, his account is often disjointed and confusing, in a way that benefited the story by adding a lot of tension and foreboding.
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.