They make you feel safe.
You trust them.
But should you ....?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, is distraught, blaming herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family who doesn't feel guilty.
But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, when an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the terrifying truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things: Billy is still alive and her family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?
The Missing by C L Taylor is published in paperback, by Avon on 7 April. The Missing is the author's third novel. Her first, The Accident, was published in April 2014, followed by The Lie in April 2015, my reviews of both of those books can be read by clicking on the titles above.
There have been comments online about the number of novels recently published that feature missing children. Some people have grumbled about it, saying that the subject has been overdone. I never really understand those sort of grumbles. Kids do go missing, all the time, more than we will ever hear about, and every one of them has their own individual story. So, for me, the increase in novels with this theme is only a reflection on what is happening in the world, and whilst the central theme may be similar, every book is different.
The Missing is a story about a child who has disappeared. But Billy Wilkinson is not a toddler, or a chubby cheeked pre-teen. He's on the verge of adulthood, a fifteen-year-old boy who isn't without his faults. He is rebellious and argumentative, life at the Wilkinson house is not all plain sailing, especially when Billy clashed with his dad Mark, or his older brother Jake.
For Claire, Billy's mother, these facts don't matter, because Billy is her little boy. Her second-born son, her baby, and he has been gone for six months, and she thinks that it is her fault.
The Missing begins six months after Billy disappeared. It is the morning of a planned TV appeal, the family are going to go public to make one more heartfelt plea for information. Surely someone, somewhere knows something? The day does not go to plan, and once again the Wilkinson family find themselves in the midst of unwanted publicity, voices are raised and cameras flash, but for the wrong reasons.
It is Claire's voice that CL Taylor uses to relate the story. She's a mixed up woman, looking for answers and someone to blame, and desperate to find her son. The stress and the pressure on their family has impacted on Claire's health, and she has started to experience terrifying episodes of dissociative amnesia, or fugues. She doesn't remember how she arrives in certain places, she cannot explain her behaviours, or what she sees. These fugues, coupled with the increasing suspicion about almost anyone that she comes into contact with are affecting the whole family. The Wilkinson family is slowly, but surely crumbling, and it is very difficult to believe that anything can mend them again.
Although The Missing is quite certainly a psychological thriller, it is also a no-holds barred examination of modern family life. Claire is an average forty-something woman who spends her life juggling daily demands. Her home, her children, her children's relationships, her work and her husband. Claire's own needs are firmly at the back of the queue and only the sudden disappearance of her youngest son has allowed her to take stock on her life and see the truth ..... but not quite all of the truth .... that is revealed much later on, and the revelation is stunning, and heartbreaking and totally unexpected.
I've read all three of C L Taylor's novels and The Missing is my favourite by far. It is modern and totally up to date. The use of WhatsApp messages between the chapters is an excellent touch, and allows the reader to learn much more about Billy's character. There are dark and disturbing themes within this story, which reflect the changing times that we live in and the fact that teenagers today are able to access some pretty unsettling and very unsavoury information online, and this information can often have damaging effects on them.
There are times when The Missing is a difficult read, purely due to the subject matter, and certainly not down to the excellent writing, but is a very gripping story. It is very cleverly constructed, and I had absolutely no idea about what had happened to Billy, although I did suspect every character at least once whilst reading it.
Tense and gripping with a dark, ominous feeling that seeps through the very clever writing. The Missing is an excellent and haunting read, all praise to C L Taylor.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
C L Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.
C L Taylor's first psychological thriller The Accident was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie, charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone.
Her third psychological thriller, The Missing, is published by Avon in April 2016.
To find out more about the author and her writing, check out www.cltaylorauthor.com
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Follow her on Twitter @callytaylor