Book Review: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles 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 Iles, 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…

Having thoroughly enjoyed Janice Hallett’s debut novel The Appeal, I jumped at the chance to read The Twyford Code when I spotted it was available to request on Netgalley.

Like The Appeal, The Twyford Code offers us a different take on the traditional narrative of a book. This time instead of the story being told through emails we have narration through transcripts of recorded voice memo’s that lead us on a twisty tale.

It’s such a clever way to tell a story, it feels very authentic and the ‘mistakes’ from the transcription software add to that feel – some words are transcribed in a variety of ways such as Bournemouth. The reader is clever alerted to this fact early on and after a few pages they barely registered but still added to the feel of the narration.

I loved Steve, our narrator, he was instantly someone you warmed to and as we learnt more about his background and life he make even more so – despite his sometimes questionable methods and life outlook.

I won’t say too much about the story itself as it is all very cleverly intertwined and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that this is a brilliantly crafted mystery story that grips from the start and sweeps you along on its journey.

With thanks to Netgalley and Viper Books for a digital copy in exchange for honest review

The Twyford Code will be available January 2022

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