This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

I Know What I Saw

By Imran Mahmood.


Described as a psychological thriller, the storyline delicately covers mental health, homelessness and childhood trauma that makes up a man named Xander Shute, who was once successful and affluent and now a homeless person living on the streets of London. On the very first page, we are introduced to Xander Shute and from his observations and thought processes, we learn that he knows which areas in London to avoid and how to stay out of trouble. We also learn that Xander doesn’t socialise with other people, preferring his own company.

One rainy night, he finds shelter in one of the empty flats in Mayfair, only to witness a murder. When he does eventually tell the police about the murder, they find nothing. When the police eventually find out a murder did happen in the same flat but a long time ago, they connect the murder to Xander Shute. This leads Xander to question his unreliable memory and what he actually saw. The crucial flashback scenes prompts us to question Xander’s account of what he really saw. Xander slowly disintegrates as he begins to remember pieces from his past. He doesn’t know if what he remembers is the reality or not. As readers, we feel immense empathy for such a distressed character who had lived on the streets for twenty odd years, experiencing trauma that led to losing his memories. The ending is gut-wrenching and really leaves the readers feeling that not only had they read a page turning thriller, but a sensitive account of trauma.

Through Xander’s journey, readers can see the treatment he receives as a homeless person. I hope after reading this book, readers can learn to be empathetic towards people who are homeless, and know that it is always good to be kind.

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