The Escape by C L Taylor
Rarely do I finish the last page of a book and start to write my review straight away but today I am because today I know exactly what I want to say about this book.
So there you have it, that's my review. That's all you need to know.
Oh, a bit more? Ok, I'll say a bit more....... but be warned......I'm an all or nothing kind of gal, so be prepared.....and remember you did ask......
This is definitely CL Taylor's best book so far.
I was completely hooked from the first page - no that's a lie, I was completely hooked from the moment I saw the front cover on Instagram. The cover for The Escape has few graphics, colour and images on it yet says so much - it's very eerie. Taylor's brand is developing exceptionally well that now her front covers are immediately recognisable. They are all intriguing and hold the promise of a high quality psychological thriller - a promise that is always delivered.
The Escape has been described as nail shredding rather than nail biting and I would have to agree. This is not for the those of a nervous disposition. Just as Elizabeth Haynes ("Into the Darkness"), Alice Feeney ("Sometimes I Lie") and Mary Torjussen ("Gone Without A Trace") were all able to do in their novels, Taylor manages to immerse you so deeply into the mindset of the main character, Jo, that I'm in half a mind to visit the doctor today seeking something to calm my nerves. Copious cups of tea are not quite doing it for me yet!
The opening is immediately engrossing with a hook that you cannot feel anything but caught by.
"Someone is walking directly behind me, matching me pace for pace. Her perfume catches in the back of my throat: a strong, heady mix of musk and something floral."
Jo is already late to pick up Elise from nursery and already stressed, sweaty, on edge. The footsteps behind her are gaining and her car seems further and further away. The level of detail was so effectively placed and so compelling in the opening pages that I was right there with Jo, fumbling through my pockets for the car keys and jumping out of my skin when a hand clamped down on Jo's shoulder. And then Jo lets this person in her car? No, don't you'll regret it I screamed (in that internal voice which seems to keep making itself external and causing me more and more strange looks wherever I am reading) and yes, she does regret it- boy, does she regret it.
The opening section of Taylor's novel is a perfect example of how to write a killer thriller. The first third of this book flaunts the perfect employment of every device necessary for a psychological thriller. Every word, phrase, action and line of dialogue has been so considered and skilfully written that this book is utterly gripping.
Jo, the main character, is a mess. She has a complicated relationship with her husband Max. She is dangerously obsessive about how she parents her daughter and she has issues. Taylor's writing conveys Jo's insecurities, jitters, fears and anxieties with conviction and with impressive authenticity. Jo's character creates tension, suspense and a nervous pace to the novel which chases us right until the last page. But it is never overwhelming and my empathy never wavered. At times I questioned her reliability but isn't that part of the thrill of this kind of novel?!
Taylor also writes from Max's point of view which she does with equal conviction. This helps to construct another layer to the plot; a plot which rapidly becomes more and more complicated as more and more is revealed about Jo, Jo and Max, Elise, Jo's parents and Jo's mother. Amazing. I was a little worried that I couldn't quite take any more tension when Taylor introduced further twists and revelations about the couple's life but fear not, this is an experienced author who can build a web of story lines and lead you through it expertly. It's hugely satisfying to watch the plot play out and see all the links, relationships and different threads come together so faultlessly. Hold on tight to Taylor's hand and she will ensure you come through the roller coaster of one highly dramatic and climatic denouement unscarred - well relatively anyway!
And look out for those extra chapters in italics. Yes, indeed, an anonymous voice. My favourite device for chilling me to the bone and confusing me even further. Who do I believe? Who is telling me the truth? What is going on? It's just fabulous.
This book has been meticulously researched. There are several illnesses, legal procedures, police procedures and situations that need to be completely realistic to ensure the reader completely buys in to the decisions and actions of the characters. I am impressed with Taylor's ability to convey and integrate this information with such a deft and subtle touch. She doesn't drop the ball once.
This is a one sitting read. I defy you to be able to put it down. Yes, I did like it. A lot. Yes, you should read it. Yes, I absolutely do recommend it. Now.
Oh, yes..... one more thing.....I may have developed an #authorcrush alongside my #covercrush as once more I begin to stalk an author and track down every podcast ( worriedwriter4 since you ask) or You Tube video they've appeared in. Ask Holly Seddon and Gillian McAllister, they're are very polite about my constant #authorlove / social media stalking..... But I do want to recommend Taylor's video on the top tips for writing a gripping novel ( BBC RADIO BRISTOL: (Video) Five tips for writing a gripping novel). She sure knows her stuff. The Escape is an example of these top tips in action and what a brilliant thriller should look like.
I think you get the message now. Just in case, I'll end by saying: buy it, read it, love it!
The Escape by CL Taylor publishes on 23rd March 2017 by Avon Books. You can find out more at cltaylorauthor.com
If you like the sound of this book you might also want to try Gillian McAllister's Everything But the Truth, Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen, Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes and In Too Deep by Sam Hayes. And The Lie, The Accident and The Missing by CL Taylor, obvs.
For more recommendations and review follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3