Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’ It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.
Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter.
Then, the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found, in a lake, with a body inside and Gabe is forced to confront events, not just from the night his daughter disappeared, but from far deeper in his past.
His search leads him to a group called The Other People.
If you have lost a loved one, The Other People want to help. Because they know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like.
There’s just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.
It’s no secret that I have struggled with reading thrillers of any kind in 2019, so I’ve developed a habit of steering clear of them for the past 6 months. Whether it be due to my hiatus from the genre, or the appeal that the author’s writing holds for me, I found this read to be a knockout amongst a sea of cookie cutter stories. As hold’s true to Tudor’s prior novels, this one does have a supernatural aspect, but more on that later. Even with the paranormal bit, The Other People feels the most like a traditional break-neck thriller, as opposed to a slow burning psychological suspense, and I am here for it.
“He was just considering changing lanes when the girl’s face appeared in the rear window, perfectly framed by the peeling stickers. She looked to be around five or six. Round-faced, pink-cheeked. Fine blonde hair pulled into two high pigtails.
His first thought was that she should be strapped into a car seat.
His second thought was IZZY.”
Right, so there’s a lot going on here. The prologue is spooky, and is continued in sparse snip-its alongside the past and present day narratives, where we see three main POVs. These seemingly unconnected sections do tie in, and this is revealed as the story proceeds. The story unfolds via 3 main players: Gabe, who’s daughter and wife were murdered years prior, but he believes that his daughter is actually still alive, Fran, who is on the run with child in tow, and Katie, who is a waitress at one of the service stations that Gabe frequents post losing his family. I don’t want to reveal too much, but if you’ve read any type of thriller before, you know that these separate threads will all come together by the end of the novel, and by golly do they collide in an explosion of sorts.
I cannot stress enough just how engaging and captivating this story is; once I reached about the 50 page mark, I simply couldn’t put it down. I was up well past my bedtime, trying to find answers and solve the mysteries, and overall the ending is incredibly satisfying. While I felt that the paranormal aspect wasn’t necessary and stilted the flow of the remainder of the book, I do think it was creative and respect what the author wanted to accomplish by including it. What worked the most for me was the incredibly complex was that she flipped between not only POVs, but past and present timelines as well. I never felt lost or confused, but my sense were heightened and my attention was fully focused.
The Other People is a dark, spooky read that will have you staying up well past your bedtime while keeping a nightlight on, just in case. You’ll never be able to hear the clacking of stones the same way (Clickety-click), and you should probably avoid bathrooms and mirrors while you’re gobbling down this story. This one is out in the US in January of 2020, but don’t just take my word for it. Who knows? Maybe the other people really are out there… 😈
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.
She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.
In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.
While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.
She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’
The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’
She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.
She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favorite venue is Rock City.
Her favorite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favorite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.
She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.
She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.
Everyone calls her Caz.