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 relaising 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 hte 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 greater power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it.
Janice Hallett’s first novel, ‘The Appeal’ was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2021, and so I was delighted to able to read an ARC of her latest novel to review. This is an author who plays around with the format of the mystery genre – she has clearly had a lot of fun writing this one!
I’ll be honest in saying that I struggled to get into this book at first. As a teacher, I was interested in the classroom—based scenes, but then it all went awry very quickly and we were here, there and everywhere, in both geography and time. I struggled to follow the phonetic translation of voice files, and wondered where the plot was leading to, especially when it seemed to be going round in circles. If you find yourself in the same position though, I’d strongly advise you to stick with it – there is a point to everything, and it all comes together in the last part of the novel.
It is pretty difficult to say much more about this novel without giving it all away, but suffice to say that Janice Hallett is one very, very clever author. I didn’t solve the case before all was revealed at the end (no change there then!), but the ending to this novel provided twists upon twists upon twists, and finally got to a very satisfactory ending.
I look forward to reading more from Janice Hallett, and I can’t wait to see what she surprises us with next!
Thank you to NetGalley and Viper for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
‘The Twyford Code’ is to be published on 13th January 2022.