I Know Who Did It | Steve Mosby | 2015, Ob 2016 | Orion | 352p | Review copy | Buy the book
Detective David Groves buried his son years ago. The memory of being taken by fellow officers to identify the scant remains of a small, murdered child in the woods is one that can never leave him. Every birthday, an anonymous card arrives for the little boy, until this year when the card says instead ‘I know who did it’. Never stopping in his search to discover the truth, Groves finds some distraction in his latest case. A man has been found burnt to death in his home. The evidence, including vicious cuts on the dead man’s face, shows that it was no accident.
Detective Mark Nelson has his own mystery to deal with. A woman has been found stumbling through the streets, not sure where she is. But she knows very well who she is – Charlie Matheson. But Charlie has been dead for two years, killed in a horrific car accident. But this woman knows everything about Charlie’s life, she even remembers the accident and, even more disturbingly, knows exactly where she’s been for the last two years and she is able to describe it – hell. For Mark this is especially troubling. His fiancée drowned in front of his eyes several years before and, although she haunts his dreams, Mark has moved on. As he breaks the news of Charlie’s inexplicable and impossible resurrection to her husband, Mark wonders how he would cope if the tables were reversed.
Meanwhile, former detective John Mercer sits in his home office, a broken man, endlessly trying to re-work the case that almost destroyed his mind, his psychologist wife listening below for sounds of madness.
As for what happens, that’s for you to find out. And you really must.
I Know Who Did It is, without doubt, one of the most thought-provoking, complex and satisfying crime novels I’ve read. It is far more than a straightforward whodunnit, in many ways that’s almost secondary. The focus throughout is on the minds of these three detectives, especially Groves and Nelson, as they endeavour to cope with the worst that life has thrown at them, trying to deal with the present, and find resolution, each in their different ways. As Steve Mosby lets us in to the minds of Groves and Nelson, it is impossible not to care for both men but particularly for David Groves as he begins to find clues to his son’s disappearance all those years ago. There’s nothing he can do but follow where he is led.
The characterisation in I Know Who Did It is second to none and so too is its elaborate plotting. There are moments here of utter shock and I did actually gasp out loud at a couple of its fabulous twists. But while it’s gripping throughout, it’s also an emotional read and the novel becomes increasingly intense especially during its final third. I couldn’t put the novel down at this point. I was desperate to find out what happened.
This is the first novel by Steve Mosby I’ve read. This didn’t matter at all but I know now that I must go back and read The 50/50 Killer. This former mystery exerts a shadow over sections of I Know Who Did It, especially over the character of Mercer, and I really want to know what happened. I Know Who Did It is so well-written and, while it is extremely clever, it appeals to the heart as much as to the brain. A fantastic novel.