"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.
The Escape by CL Taylor is published by Avon on 23 March 2017 and is the author's fourth psychological thriller, and follows The Accident (2014), The Lie (2015) and The Missing (2016).
I have been a huge fan of CL Taylor ever since the pre-publication copy of The Accident dropped through my letterbox three years ago. Her writing gets better and better with each novel and for me, The Escape is her best book by far. I read it in just a couple of sittings, breath held for most of it, it is totally gripping.
Jo and Max seem like an average young married couple. She works part-time as a student counsellor, he's an investigative journalist. Their two-year-old daughter Elise attends the local nursery. When Jo is approached by a strange woman as she's doing the school run, her world starts to crumble around her. Who is Paula and why does she say that Jo has something that belongs to her? What has Max got to do with this? What has he done?
It's clear as the story unfolds that Jo's life is not as average as it appears. Under the facade, there is a woman who is struggling to cope with everyday life. She's scared to let Elise out of her sight, they spend most of their time behind closed doors, she's paranoid, she feels alone and useless. The author expertly provides snippets of information that relates to Jo's past; both recently after the loss of their much-wanted first child and early memories from a childhood shrouded in lies and deception. These events have had a huge impact on Jo's mental health and the reader is left with a niggling doubt about the reliability of her narrative through the early parts of the story.
Max also carries his own personal demons with him, connected to his childhood and the failings of his father. He's determined that he will not walk in his father's shoes, he will ensure that his daughter has everything that she wants .... but what else will he sacrifice to make sure that happens?
The second half of the novel takes the reader on a journey to rural Ireland, it is the 'escape' of the title and sees Jo and Elise hide, yet discover. For me, with my Irish family history, this setting was both familiar and unsettling at times. It is clear that the author has taken great care with her research and the stifling feeling that pervades the small Irish community is exceedingly well executed.
The Escape is an expertly observed and quite disturbing look at family bonds, and the effects of secrets kept. It is gripping and wonderfully addictive. The author's character portrayal is brilliant, they are flawed, sometimes impossible to empathise with, but above all, they are totally realistic.
It is clever, unnerving and skillfully done. Highly recommended.
CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle and has worked as a sales administrator, web developer, instructional designer and as the manager of a distance learning team at a London university. She now writes full time.
CL Taylor's first psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second and third novels, THE LIE and THE MISSING, were Sunday Times Bestsellers and #1 Amazon Kindle chart bestsellers. Her fourth pysychological thriller, THE ESCAPE, will be published on 23 March 2017. She is currently writing her first young adult thriller, THE TREATMENT, which will be published in September 2017.
Find out more at www.cltaylorauthor.com
Find her Author Page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @callytaylor