It’s my turn on the blog tour for All I Said Was True by the fabulous Imran Mahmood. My thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n, @BloomsburyRaven and @Imranmahmood777 for the opportunity. #AllISaidWasTrue
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?
This is a grippingly readable novel that mesmerised me with its unusual story, stunning use of language and real suspense. I enjoyed the flip flop between the present and the past. Layla is being questioned on suspicion of the murder of Amy Blahn, found with a hunting knife in her chest and lying in Layla’s arms. Alternating chapters reveal what really happened.
Or do they? Layla is not exactly the most believable witness. As she says: “It all seems to simple when you see it on the TV……. Just tell the truth. What could be easier?”
But is Layla telling the truth? Is it possible to tell the absolute truth? Isn’t there always more than one version? And does being a lawyer herself influence the way she answers the detectives? These are just some of the questions raised by this beautifully written book.
Layla maintains her innocence and insists that the police find “Michael” to find out everything they need to know. The trouble is, Layla cannot accurately describe Michael and seems to know very little about him.
The mystery of Michael dominates this story. Somehow his and Layla’s paths are entangled, but not in ways that either of them can explain. He is someone who seems to appear out of nowhere and then melt away as if he’d never been there at all.
Mystery also surrounds Layla’s marriage. Is it happy, or utterly miserable? What exactly did Layla do to Russell three years ago? Is he having an affair? Mahmood spins tales within tales, and every time I thought I’d got it, another revelation would sweep me right off course again.
The book also poses a number of other philosophical questions, mainly around freedom of choice, and raises issues like racism and parental abandonment.
Imran Mahmood’s use of language is utterly beautiful and his writing is very evocative of place and time. At one point I could actually feel that London heat rising up out of the page.
About the author:
Imran Mahmood is a practising barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. 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 Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and was made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. His second novel I Know What I Saw was released in June 2021, was chosen as a Sunday Times crime novel of the month and reached no. 2 on the Audible charts. He has been commissioned to write three screenplays and is working on his next novel. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.