Title: The Twyford Code
Author: Janice Hallett
Release Date: 13/01/2022
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 58
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Viper Books ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
It’s time to solve the murder of the century…
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…
I can tell you one thing this book is already making it on to my best reads of 2022. Mind = Blown. Like her first book The Appeal, The Twyford Code is told in an unusual format, that aids in the winding and twisting narratives that Hallett masterfully weaves into her plots. This story is primarily told in digitally transcribed printouts of audio recordings, it manages to hide so many clues in plain sight and is incredibly subtle in its complexity. By hiding those clues in such a way, when you finish the book and have all the revelations in your hand the first thing you want to do is go back and re-read it, so you can spot all these hints and tips that were staring you in the face the whole time. To me that is the mark of an amazing mystery book.
The Main Character, and our primary narrator as it is his audio recordings the transcripts are pulled from, is a triumph. He has so much depth to him that you are constantly learning and adapting how you perceive him. I loved him as a character despite his flaws, as we learnt more and more about him he became more and more intriguing and as the story of his past and the mystery he was trying to solve in the audio files intermingled and twists started to be revealed I was just drawn more and more towards Steve and his history and the story he had to tell. He was just such a compelling character to read about.
Hallett is just a genius at playing with language, particularly in a book where code breaking plays such a big roll it was fun to spot some cheeky little nods and winks as the mystery started to unravel. The words Cat and Fish playing so closely together in part of the plot, was very cheeky! I was sold as soon as there were fun nods and winks to on of my favourite writers, Douglas Adams but there is also a lot of other bookish clues, to capture the book nerds and draw them in. Also the close ties to real history also really brought this to life (I won’t mention what events to avoid spoilers) I found this really pulled me in to the adventure and I got just as excited to unveil the secrets as the characters themselves. This is where the perfectly paced timing of the twist and reveals really made this something special.
Each reveal and twist hits you just as you have been sucked down into an exciting little road of exploration and it is never what you have imagined the reveal will be! The Sheer number of gasp out loud twists is outstanding! Its so wonderfully tangled that the unravelling of it all at the end is a thing of beauty. The ending itself is such a lovely and bitter sweet moment that also had just as much excitements as the rest of the book.
I honestly could read it again and again. I think its one of those books that you will notice a new clue or hint on every read and wonder why on earth you didn’t see it before. Its one of the highest ESCAPE Scores I have ever rated and I encourage anyone to give this one a try!