“We all have secrets. Most are guilty, a few are wretched and some are too precious to share.”
C.L. Taylor‘s 2016 thriller, The Missing follows a desperate mother, Claire Wilkinson, whose 15-year-old son, Billy, goes missing in the middle of the night. Claire blames herself, but she’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s 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. Claire is sure that Billy is still alive, but as the truth begins to surface, she begins to question who she can trust.
This was the first C.L. Taylor book that I ever read (and I very quickly bought her other releases straight afterwards) but it was also one of the first thrillers that I properly got into. I was living in Bristol at that time, so I was excited to find an author who lived down the road from me. Little did I know that C.L. Taylor’s The Missing would send me on a thriller frenzy and that I would soon be buying her books as soon as they were released. I haven’t done that for a book before (not since Harry Potter, anyway!) so it was amazing to find an author who I was actually a fan of. And if you like thrillers, then C.L. Taylor is definitely an author that you want to get stuck into.
With the story set in Bristol, as well, Taylor brilliantly describes the settings around her, allowing you to picture every scene as if you were Claire herself, tracking down her son around the streets of Bedminster. I could actually imagine her sitting in her car as she wrote this, envisioning Billy just as Claire did, allowing the story to develop in her head as she used these settings to spark inspiration.
The Missing is admittedly a very easy read, but Taylor uses such brilliant detail that she still manages to create a rich mystery that has obviously been well researched. The flow of the story is maintained perfectly, never slowing down and always keeping you guessing. You are made to re-evaluate everything that you thought you knew as there are so many lies between this dysfunctional family that the story will make you question every single person.
Not only does Taylor explore the family dynamics with a great depth, she also brilliantly captures the emotions of a stressed, desperate mother who is in a state of limbo, as Claire tries to hold on to the hope that her missing son is still alive. She is an easy character to emphasise with and leads this thriller fantastically. As Claire persuades you to believe in her mother’s instincts, her hope also influences which other characters you trust.
With the addition of some well-used narrative devices, including a chatroom conversation between two unidentified users, the intertwined stories give you two different perspectives of Billy’s life. As they gradually come together, nothing will prepare you for the big reveal at the end.
The Missing will forever remain the book that began my love of thrillers and I can’t wait to see C.L. Taylor upcoming releases as her populated will undoubtedly take over.