Cryptic clues and electrifying tension make this a novel of great suspense and intrigue.
I don’t usually read crime fiction novels, there not really my thing. So I was a little sceptical when I picked this one up, certain I wouldn’t get anything from it. In truth I picked it up because I was at a loose end reading wise (I’d finished a book at my parents and desperately wanted something new to read) but also the catchy synopsis seemed intriguing and worth a go. Perhaps because my expectations weren’t too high, as I said it isn’t my genre, I found myself pleasantly drawn into the story, curiosity driving me through from the very first page to the thrilling finale.
The story beings when teenager Cynthia Archer wakes one morning with a terrible hangover and little memory of the night before. She braces herself for the worst, a telling off from her parents for her underage drinking, but what she slowly comes to unveil is far worse. Seemingly over night, all of Cynthia’s family have vanished. Searching the rooms of her family home turns up nothing, even the police are rendered useless in this bizarre and uncanny case. Has Cynthia being abandoned by her loved ones? Have they willing fled in the night, and if so why didn’t they take her too? Or has something even more sinister occurred? Have her family being murdered? Is the killer still out there?
Twenty five years later and Cynthia is grown up with her own family, a husband and daughter. Yet the horror of her loss and it’s strange circumstances still haunt her. Then after many years she agrees to take part in a TV documentary about her unusual prompting things to get even more sinister. A mysterious letter arrives bringing with it a spine tingling sensation of suspense and thrill that drives the reader and fuels curiosity.
A lot of questions are thrown into the mix which makes for a compelling and urgent read. Barclay knows how to manipulate his fiction to hook his reader and ensure their unwavering attention is snagged. Anyone who is a fan of crime fiction is sure to enjoy his style and the plot line of this interesting story. Even those who aren’t inclined to this style of fiction, may, like me find themselves intrigued and pleasantly surprised by what Linwood Barclay has to offer.
I’ve always found with crime fiction novels that the story line can sometimes be a little predictable, a little too ‘we’ve been here before’ but with Barclay’s story I felt a far more original story had been told. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but the story is less predictable than a lot of crime novels that open with gory murder scenes. He really nails the art of mixing subtle suspense and intrigue whilst giving just enough glimpses of the truth so that the reader is compelled to read on. And although the actual story is far from everyday reality, perhaps the lack of violence surrounding the families disappearance in the beginning only adds to the creepiness of the story. For me it made the story easier to believe, which therefore made it all the more harrowing.
What would you do if you woke one day and your family had disappeared? How would you move on? Barclay asks us all of these questions, and as the past begins to resurface in the present he throws us questions about how one can totally let go of their past, how they can resist tugging at the mysterious facts to find the truth. As a reader we urge Cynthia to carry on digging up her past and to ignore the dangerous warning signs that Barclay throws in so that we too can solve this mystery.
I note that this book also received praise from Richard and Judy for the summer reads, I’m pleased to see it receiving praise, in my opinion it’s worth it.
Have you read this book or anything else by Linwood Barclay? Perhaps you’re a big crime fiction fan and have an opinion on this review? I’d love to hear your thoughts.