The Other People by C. J. Tudor

This is one of the few thrillers that gave me genuine chills at times… the added slightly supernatural element gave the book an unusual and gripping edge, with characters who were difficult to trust but easy to support.

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .
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. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

At the heart of this book is an innocence that radiates from Alice – I think most people will guess Alice’s past, but it’s her quiet calm innocence that really endears her to the reader. I was so desperate for her story to end happily, but also concerned for the danger she was in. It’s clever, as despite the reader not knowing which adult to trust, we all want to have a happy ending for Alice.

The other characters then, mainly Gabe, Katie and Fran, are an intriguing bunch. It’s hard at first to see the direct connections between them, and a lot of the early book is focused on Gabe’s grief and determination anyway. His desperation to find his daughter and his belief that she is still out there is truly heartbreaking, but I was rooting for him the whole time. What Tudor does really well is make each character a full person, a three-dimensional character. No one is perfect and Gabe certainly appears to have a hidden past – he’s not a perfect hero, but he’s a real person with a tragedy that’s devastating to read. It’s excellent writing and characterisation.

Katie and Fran were also both excellently written. Katie’s fear and nervousness was hard to figure out and it made her a very interesting addition to the character line-up. I thought she was great, with a strength and determination that was admirable and a protective streak that endeared her to the reader as well. Fran was a frustrating character – despite the fact she was clearly living on the edge and scared for her life, I felt she was clearly a bit impulsive and tightly wound. As her story is revealed it becomes clear that she is indeed slightly reckless, but all of them are embroiled in something bigger than we could imagine, so my sympathy for them all is still there.

This is one of those plots that is slightly outlandish and yet I was hooked throughout. Tudor pushes the boundaries of reality just enough to give the reader chills without disengaging them from the story. As the ending builds all the reveals are gripping, fascinating or honestly chilling, so I was glued to the page until the last page. This is an excellent thriller for fans of the genre who want something different to get their teeth into.

The Other People
C. J. Tudor
Michael Joseph, 23rd Jan 2020

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