THE TWYFORD CODE
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 realising 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 the 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 great power, and he isn't the only one trying to solve it... Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.
MY REVIEW *****
I haven’t read Janice Hallett’s previous book ‘The Appeal’, but I can see from its reviews that it’s a sharp and clever thriller with an unusual narrative style. It certainly seems that Hallett has found herself a niche as The Twyford Code is very similar. The narrative style is very odd and can at first be quite jarring. The chapters are written as audio files which have been transcribed (badly) by automated software. We are warned at the beginning of the piece that certain words have been mis-typed (such as ‘mustard’ instead of ‘must have’ etc) and the whole book is quite a rambling point of view as Steven Smith, having escaped from prison tries to figure out a childhood mystery. I must admit I didn’t initially get on with the style of writing, but it turned out to be a very clever narrative device.
The story itself takes on many twists and turns and we get the air of a very unreliable narrator. There are many threads to the plot and Steve flits between them constantly – telling the story that landed him in jail, memories of his childhood class field trip, trying to solve the mystery of the Twyford Code – it all seems a bit jumbled in places. However, stick with it and the pay off is exceptional. The last few chapters had me gasping as they slowly revealed the truth of the book I had been reading for the past few days. My only point would be, unusually for me who loves my Kindle, that this book might perhaps be enjoyed more in paper-format as you can jump around the re-read the specific audio files that are mentioned in the denouement with new eyes.
Steven Smith is an interesting main character, a man who is almost illiterate, out on parole with a drinking problem and limited prospects in life. Although he has a shady past, we do feel some empathy for him as he tries to get his friends together and solve the mystery. I did feel like the middle section (particularly when they visit various ‘banks’) felt very slow moving and more confusing than it needed to be in regard to the ending.
Overall, The Twyford Code is a really clever thriller with an ending that you won’t see coming and will leave you gasping with shock. Another fantastic 2022 read – thank you to NetGalley & Viper Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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