You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. But should you…?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance. A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?
Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…
I’ve really enjoyed CL Taylor’s earlier books – you’ll find my review here of The Accident, and here is my review of The Lie. Both set a particularly high bar in terms of psychological thrillers, and I’ve really been looking forward to reading The Missing, published by Avon on 7th April in paperback and for kindle, and being part of the blog tour.
But I’ll admit there was a point when I wondered if I was actually going to get on with this one. None of the characters is particularly likeable – I know likability isn’t a prerequisite of a good thriller, but the unremitting misery and distinctly unpleasant exchanges really did start to get to me a little. I know others have liked them, but the near-the-knuckle WhatsApp (or Snapchat maybe?) exchanges between two unknowns didn’t really do it for me either – at risk of sounding like my granny, maybe it’s a more familiar medium for those younger than me. The whole subject of graffiti and “tagging” was a tad alien too – but that’s hardly the book’s fault.
I did get over it though – by a third of the way in I was as hooked as most other readers have been, gasping at each twist and turn, trying to stay one step ahead to second guess the next secret and failing dismally. No-one writes an unreliable narrator quite as well as this author – I remember being quite fascinated by Sue in The Accident too – and the fact that Claire really doesn’t know the extent of her own involvement either makes her totally mesmerising. The family dynamics are well drawn, painful, fragmented and vividly real – and the emotion that underpins every exchange is so near the surface it hurts. Claire’s total confusion at times was palpable, as was her desperation to find the truth about her son’s disappearance.
The whole story was really well plotted and paced, and I really didn’t see the end coming. It might not have been my favourite of CL Taylor’s books – maybe just wrong book, wrong time for me – but it’s exceptionally well done, and so many other readers are going to be stunned by it.
My thanks to Avon and netgalley for my advance reading e-copy, and to Helena for including me on the tour.
CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.
CL Taylor’s first psychological thriller The Accident was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie, charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone.
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