The Twyford Code – Janice Hallett

Published By: Viper
Pages: 384
Released On: 13/01/2022

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.

*****

**Contains Spoilers**

Thanks to Viper for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I adored Janice’s first book, The Appeal, and was so excited when I was sent an early copy of the sequel. Once again, Janice has chosen an unusual medium to tell her story – this time it’s in voice notes recorded on an old iPhone. Like the first book – where it’s all written in email form – this allows the reader to follow the plot (past and present) in real time with the characters. I found this quite a brave book as there’s really only one character we hear from, which is a lot to sustain for nearly 400 pages.

I did feel at times it was perhaps slightly repetitive, but this could be down to just having the one narrative viewpoint. We’re used to swapping narrators, swapping loyalties, digging through layers, which obviously, this book wasn’t full of (well, until about 80% of the way through anyway). However it is still thrilling and kept me hooked until the revelations at the end.

I think the writing style is original and interesting, but would at times have preferred to read it from other points of view, but it does become clearer as the book goes on why this writing style was chosen. By using the single narrative, it is up to us as the reader to decide if the main character of Steven is reliable or not.

Murder mysteries and the like are always full of red herrings and twists and turns the reader tries to decipher, but I don’t think I’ve read one with such a 360 degree ending as this one. The time and concentration that Janice must have to concoct, plan, write, and keep on top of each aspect of her stories is commendable.

I admit, I preferred the first book as I found it easier to get my head round, and was engaging right from the start, whereas this one took me a little while to get into, but nevertheless I did thoroughly enjoy it. Janice is clearly one to watch when it comes to rivalling Agatha Christie, and is definitely a future legend in the murder mystery genre.

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