- Author: Janice Hallett
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Mystery
- No. of pages: 384
- Dates read: 14.01.2022 – 17.01.2022
- Star Rating: 5 stars
Plot: Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his remedial English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced it was the key to solving a puzzle. That a message in secret code ran through all Edith Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Isles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven’s memory won’t allow him to remember what happened. Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Isles 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 Isles, 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…
My number 1 book of 2021 was this authors debut novel! So, a lot was riding on this book to meet the high expectations I had of it! Loads of my co-workers read it and were telling me how great it was and I just was so nervous but so excited. I am happy to say I loved this book! It is so different from her debut that I can’t choose a favourite.
What I like about Hallett’s books, and books like this in general, is that the way she structures her novels and they way she formats her story is so exciting and refreshing. Don’t get me wrong I love a good novel just telling the story but to create a story in which it’s told through voice notes, emails and phone calls makes for such an engaging and new experience one that I don’t think many readers get to see that often.
I found the writing, in which is was mainly voice recordings, to be super interesting and a really good way to connect with the main character, Steven. My friends and I use voice notes all the time to tell each other things and I felt in a similar way it was like I was listening to a friend tell me about their life! We learn a lot about Steven through these notes as he flicks between the present situation and also reflecting on his past and how he ended up in jail. I felt that the balance between the past and the present was done really well and also both equally interesting so I enjoyed flicking between the two storylines.
The story itself was masterful! Every time I feel like I know where the story is going and I have finally figured it out, Hallett brings something so unexpected but so perfect to the fore front and am I screaming, how did I not realise this!! I can’t say too much but oh my gosh all I did with most of my week off work was read this book as I needed to know what happened next.
Overall, this is a super engaging and really exciting novel that just shows that Hallett is an author to keep an eye on. I am already excited for her 3rd book which isn’t out until Jan 2023!!