I’m of the opinion that the smaller the community, the larger the secrets. Look at Emmerdale , but seriously, if something mysterious or seedy happens in a small village or town, it becomes public knowledge very quickly. Okay, so it’s not normally shouted out by the town crier but usually talked about in hushed tones behind closed doors, in pubs and over coffees while accompanied by a furtive glance over one’s shoulder. Why the furtive glance I’ll never know, because you know damn well everyone else knows, but just won’t admit it. In a large town or city, secrets large and small get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the rat race and also hundreds of other, larger, more heinous goings on. That’s why murder mysteries and horror stories work so well in rural settings or small communities. This month’s book review is no exception. Its set in an old mining village in rural Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England. The book is ,’The Taking Of Annie Thorne‘ by C.J. Tudor and is published by Penguin (www.penguin.co.uk) on the 21st February 2019.
Joe Thorne is a teacher with a few unpaid gambling debts hanging over his head, which have left their mark thanks to the handywork of a rather cold but attractive female enforcer called Gloria. He returns to his home town of Arnhill to take up a post in his old alma mater, where a couple of months previously another member of the teaching staff Julia Morton brutally murdered her son Ben and took her own life, after leaving the words “Not My Son” scrawled in blood over the child’s bed.
Joe rents Julia’s cottage where the murder took place, but on his first day on job he has a run in the with the school bully, Jeremy Hurst. Joe knows the Hursts, he went to school with the bully’s dad Stephen, who was also a bully and is still a bully with power on the local council. But Joe isn’t here to reconnect with his childhood friends. No, he’s here because Ben Morton went missing a short while before he was bludgeoned to death by his mother and when he returned a day or so later everyone said his personality had changed. Ben isn’t the first child to go missing, Joe’s younger sister Annie went missing for forty eight hours twenty years ago and when she returned she wasn’t the same either. What do the Hursts, both father and son, their terminally ill wife and mother Marie, have to do with the missing children and the disused mine that overshadows the village. Can Joe get to the bottom of things while clearing his debts and turning his life around?
When I picked up this book I got the feeling it was going to be dark and that was just from the cover. But what I expected and what I got where two totally different things. I envisaged a murder mystery, or even the hunt for a kidnapped girl told through the eyes of a private eye or police detective. What lay beyond the covers was an in your face horror mystery. Something straight out of the James Herbert or Stephen king guide on how to write a perfectly well plotted and edge of your seat read.
This is what one encounters from the opening pages. with the discovery of the Morton’s in their blood splattered cottage and then enter our hero, or in this case an originally drawn and depicted antihero, who smokes and drinks his way to the conclusion and who is made even more memorable by the addition of a limp and walking stick. Then throw in a thick repertoire of dark humour and at times I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with fear.
This book is engrossing and while reading it in a silent house on Sunday night, I was conscious of every other noise in the house and frequently went to the bathroom to check for an infestation of beetles, which regularly appear, chittering their way through the book. So if you have a fear of creepy-crawlies then reading this in the dark will not be good for you.
This English Author C.J. Tudor’s second book. Her first, ‘The Chalkman‘ was published in 2018 and her next book is due out in 2020 and is titled, ‘Other People‘. I haven’t read Tudor’s previous book, but a friend I spoke to last weekend had and raved about it. So, I will try to get to it over the next couple of months. Tudor was born in Salisbury, she grew up in Nottingham where she still lives.
By the time I’d finished this book, I had a hankering for Rigoletto, there were so many twists in this pacey and chilling plot, which again can only add to the success of this book and show what an amazing talent this new entrant into this genre is. So pop down to your local bookshop or download a copy and go and stalk the small winding streets of Arnhill to discover the truth behind the Taking of Annie Thorne.
This book is part of a blog tour to see what the other reviewers thought, visit there sites listed below and if you get a copy of the book, comeback after you’ve read it and let us know if you agree.