It’s time to solve the murder of the century…
Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.
Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?
Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…
Having read the authors first book The Appeal I was absolutely delighted to be given an ARC of this book. This in no way affects my opinion on the book all thoughts are my own.
Another well written engaging read by Janice Hallett the format in the Appeal was good. But this one is equally good, it’s unique in the way it is told, and the reader has the chance to try and follow some of the clues throughout as they are there.
The story is told through voice recordings, recorded on an Apple iPhone 4. Steven Smith is the person telling the story and doing the recording. He has just been released from prison after an 11 year stint, he has missed his sons life completely and totally understands why he wants nothing to do with him. But it is the son who gives Steve the phone.
Steve is obsessed by something that happened when he was at school. He was illiterate, but his home life wasn’t the best his mum had walked out followed by his father leaving Colin, Steve’s older brother to raise him. But money was short, and it was tough. But then Steve got involved with the Harrison’s a mob family, as Steve records the story comes out as to what happened there. But his main focus is finding out what happened to a teacher Miss Isles, she had taken Steven and 4 others in a remedial English class trying to teach them to read. Steve finds a book on a bus one day and is sat in class looking at it until Miss Isles takes it off him and refuses to give it back. She does however read the book to the class, it’s written by an Edith Twyford, and is a similar type of book that Enid Blyton used to write the famous five. But Miss Isles explains the book is actually banned having been labelled as xenophobic. One day Miss Isles decides to take this class of students on a day out they go to Bournemouth, and to the house where Edith Twyford is supposed to have lived. But Miss Isles went missing that day, what happened to her.
Steve is investigating the disappearance of Miss Isles, he is determined to find out what happened to her enlisting the help of his other classmates. Steve is recording everything. The five are looking for clues and it begins to read like one of the adventures you could imagine the famous five getting into. But what else is going on? As there are times Steven mentions other men following him. Throughout the story there are lots of twists and turns, red herrings, and an ending that will surprise you. Steve’s son is a professor and is good at mathematics. The whole recording is being done for Steve’s son, he wants him to know everything. But some of it he is going to have to encrypt himself.
I liked Steven, you felt some empathy for him, his childhood the time he spent in jail. I love the way other books were mentioned that Steve had read in prison once he had learnt to read he loved Lord of the Flies, other books mentioned were Masquerade by Kit Williams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
If you enjoyed the style of writing in The Appeal I think you will also enjoy this one. Lots of clues to follow if you are clever enough. I would like to thank the publishers @Viper for my ARC of this brilliant read. Definitely worthy of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I look forward to see what the author writes next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal was her first novel.