December Countdown, Day 25 : Christmas Day

December book meme (details here).  Christmas Day – choose one from the wishlist: (due out January)


The Other People by C.J. Tudor

Posted On 20 January 2020

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TheOtherPeopleThe Other People is such a great read. It’s a psychological thriller but what makes it so gripping and so tense is the fact you simply have to know what’s happened. I remember watching a film a few years ago, a guy and his girlfriend at a service station and the girl goes missing and her boyfriend becomes all-consumed with knowing what happened to her, to such an extent that he’s even prepared to put himself in danger.  Okay, I’m not saying that I put myself in danger by reading this book (just to be clear) – although there were late nights. What I’m really getting at is that the author manages to put you into the central character’s shoes.  He’s desperate to know what happened and as a reader you become totally wrapped up in his desperation.  Your curiosity is heightened to a ridiculous level, you feel sorry for him and almost want to shout hints but more than that you’re willing the story forward in order to unravel the mystery and that, for me, is a winning story.  On top of that there are stories within stories taking place here that gradually feed into the main thread.  So many lives all connected, primarily, by the need for revenge.  An eye for an eye.

The story is compelling virtually from page 1.  There is a mystery girl who lies in a room alone – but I won’t elaborate further on that aspect of the story.  Moving swiftly on, we then make the introduction of Gabe, who is the main POV character although not the only one.  Gabe is on his way home, worried about being late and stuck in traffic, he’s idly looking at the car in front, and reading the abundance of stickers plastered over the back, when a little girl sits up on the backseat, a girl who looks exactly like his own daughter, you can only imagine the turmoil his mind spins into when this little girl sees him and mouths the word ‘daddy?’ The traffic then lightens and the car in front pulls ahead, disappearing into motorway oblivion. Gabe knows his daughter can’t be in that car.  He knows she can’t. But at the same time he knows what he saw and with every fibre of his being he knows it was his little girl.  As it happens, whilst Gabe was on his way home, his wife and daughter have been murdered.  Gabe becomes the main suspect for a while and whilst his story of the car on the motorway is listened to with scepticism absolutely nobody believes that his daughter was in that car.  Gabe still does, he believes his daughter has been taken and his search for that strange car and his missing child becomes all consuming for him and totally gripping for me.

Alongside Gabe we follow another couple of character’s.  A waitress in a motorway service station called Kate.  Kate sees Gabe on regular occasions as he spends his life trawling the roads looking for the mystery car.  He’s almost like a ghost, a shadow of his former self.  He inspires pity in others but also discomfort because he’s clearly so desperate and so sad.  Kate doesn’t have the happiest existence.  She’s lonely. She works hard to make ends meet and wonders if she’ll ever have either the time or energy to become involved in another relationship.  Being a single mother of two and working long shifts really doesn’t help in that respect.  Then there’s Fran and her daughter Alice, who seem to live in a perpetual state of fear and are constantly on the run.  Their lives are ruled by the need to stay hidden but from what isn’t immediately clear.  The other character of note is the Samaritan.  This chap certainly has all the menace!  Fortunately, he seems to have fallen into the category of ‘helpful guy’ in terms of wanting to assist Gabe find the car and this is just as well, I don’t think you’d want to fall on the wrong side of the Samaritan.  I actually found this character quite fascinating and could easily read a book that centres around his dark dealings.

Obviously there are more characters involved and the way their stories are gradually revealed is deceptively addictive. In laws, mothers, daughters, sisters, police, and more. There lives are inextricably linked in strange ways, and the beauty of the story is the differing shades of grey that they’re all painted in.  Here are secrets and lies aplenty.  Mistakes that can’t be run away from and wishes that should never have been uttered.  The dark web is named so for a reason and it’s involvement in this story takes us down a creepy ‘big brother’ track that gives you the chills.  Be careful what you wish for people because you never know who is watching.

I don’t really want to say too much more for fear of spoiling a story that is best discovered during the read and not before.  This is well written. The characters and their motivations feel very real and propel the story forward at a great pace.  I couldn’t put the book down and practically read it in two sittings.  The ending pulled all the complicated threads together and I’m left with a feeling of wanting to read this again as well as being ridiculously curious about one of the other characters.

In terms of criticisms. I don’t really have any to be honest.  I would mention that the story involves light magical realism which is very subtly played out and for me added an extra speculative vibe that was curiously creepy.

Overall this was a really good read that I would definitely recommend to lovers of mysteries that involve light fantasy.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5*




Weekly Wrap Up : 19th January 2020

Hey everyone. Hope you’ve all had a lovely week.  I seem to have been very busy and yet I don’t think I could say exactly how or why.  In none bookish news I’m trying to be good and healthy, do more exercise and drink more water so we’ll see how this goes. I’ve actually made a plan for a full month – can I stick to it?  Well, I think so, we’ll see.  In bookish news I’ve read three books and also caught up with a couple of reviews. I went a little off plan but not much. In SPFBO news I read my first book, and loved it, obviously I’m a little behind but I’m not worried, I’m hoping to fit at least one more book in this month if not two.

Here’s my week in books:

  1. The Other People by CJ Tudor – which was excellent and my review will be posted tomorrow
  2. The Woods by Vanessa Savage
  3. Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas #1) by Alicia Wanstall-Burke – my first SPFBO book and an excellent 9* read.

What I’m reading next week:

  1. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell
  2. The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson
  3. Highfire by Eoin Colfer

Upcoming Reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  5. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  6. The Other People by CJ Tudor
  7. The Woods by Vanessa Savage

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Weekly Wrap Up : 12th January 2020

A little later than planned here is my weekly wrap up.   This is in fact my first weekly wrap up of 2020, I’m still catching up following my two week Christmas break.  So, this week I’ve read two books.

Here’s my week in books:

  1. The God Game by Danny Tobey – I loved this and my review can be found here.
  2. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

What I’m reading next week:

  1. The Other People by CJ Tudor
  2. The Woods by Vanessa Savage
  3. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell

Upcoming Reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  5. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  6. Where Gods Fear to go by Angus Watson
  7. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

This book is being marketed under two different titles/covers and so for the avoidance of doubt you might also know this book as The Hiding Place.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a tense thriller that gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies.  This is a dark tale, narrated skillfully by an undoubtedly gifted storyteller that will, from the unexpected and rather bloody prologue, worm it’s sneaky little fingernails under your skin until it has a firm hold.

So, let’s start at the beginning, the prologue is incredibly gripping and one that sets the tone well for the rest of the book.  This is tense, the sort of tense  that makes you afraid to turn the pages.  Much like the two police characters who unwittingly stumbled onto this opening crime scene, I simply didn’t know what to expect, I just knew it was going to be bad.  A murder scene with a cryptic message left in bold red letters on the wall.

Meanwhile, an unknown man attends an interview for a teaching job at the secondary school in Arnhill. His CV is a little creative to say the least but he’s quite charming and manages to secure the post.  Not only will he be stepping into the footsteps of a dead woman but he’ll also be occupying the cottage that was left abandoned following the crime scene at the start of the book.  Most people being too squeamish to want to live there it has remained unsurprisingly empty.

The new teacher at the high school is Joe Thorne.  He grew up in Arnhill.  He was bullied at school and in fact eventually joined the gang of bullies himself.  Joe was one of the few who managed to escape Arnhill but now he’s come home, called back to address issues from his past that seem to be repeating themselves and unfortunately, living something of a troubled life in the present, unwanted elements are about to follow him home.

The setting, Arnhill, formerly a mining town, brought low by the pit closure.  Arnhill is a shadow of its former self.  The place has a claustrophobic feel, riddled with unhappy histories between many of the residents and blighted by what feels like a constant stream of bad luck.  This is a place leached of colour and happiness and sat on its outskirts, like a festering sore, is the colliery that once provided a livelihood but now haunts the place.

Now, putting something off limits is often like a red rag to a bull so although the mine has been constantly a no go zone you just know that the young people of the area flock to it like moths to a flame.  Joe and his friends made a discovery there  in their teenage years and although more stringent measures have since been put in place the teenagers of Arnhill are still finding hidden mysterious tunnels into the darkness. Because who wouldn’t want to go down into the scary dark places with the tiny tunnels, suffocating spaces and skittering noises.

Joe is a character with a history.  His sister went missing all those years ago, she returned the day after, but she was never the same and Joe has been suppressing the memories of what really took place.  Coming back to Arnhill is going to bring back painful recollections.  On top of that Joe has been gambling and running up bad debts with the sort of people who take kneecaps first and ask questions later.

This is a story that takes a little time to reveal its secrets but in spite of that there was no dull moments and I found myself glued to the page waiting for the reveals.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, not really criticisms so much as things worth a quick mention. For a mystery/thriller this book contains fantasy aspects and no doubt that will be unpalatable to those wanting a no nonsense book from the genre, my advice would be to give it a shot anyway – I think the book is worth it.  Secondly, it took me a little while to warm up towards Joe, not that I disliked him, just that I wasn’t immediately on board but he undoubtedly has a good character arc and I can’t deny that I fairly quickly started to feel incredibly sorry for him.  My giddy aunt – do not annoy this author, she will write you into one of her stories and make you suffer. I kid you not.  Now, the real elephant in the room (and don’t you dare all look at me) is this book has been touted as very Stephen King-like and yes, I can see that.  Is that a problem – not for me personally but I can’t speak for others.  Without doubt this brought two King classics to mind – but I can’t tell you which because therein lies the land of spoilers.  I apologise that this review is rather vague on the whole but the nature of a mystery is, well, just that, and it wouldn’t be very mysterious if I start dishing out the spoilers.

Anyway, long story short.  This was good.  Stop reading this review and go and read the book instead.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.