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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Other People by C. J. Tudor (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


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OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: C. J. Tudor is the author of The Hiding Place and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.

Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or 'the thin man' as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him, because Katie understands what it's like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn't seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that 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 that if they ever find them, they're dead.

FORMAT/INFO: January 28, 2020 marks the North American hardcover and e-book publication of The Other People via Ballantine Books. It’s 336 pages long divided over sixty-four chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. It was also published in the UK on 23rd January 2020 by Michael Joseph Ltd. Publishing.


OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS The Other People was a book that was highly anticipated by me. After reading CJ’s debut The Chalk Man. I was very excited by her style of thrillers and the supernatural angle she inserts into the story.

With The Other People, we get a standalone story that deals with loss of a loved one, grief that follows and the rage that remains. Gabe is one such a person who has experienced a unfathomable loss. His wife and five year old daughter were murdered but Gabe insists that he saw his daughter in a beat up car just before he arrived home. Three years later and Gabe is still searching for his daughter and now he’s lonely and desperate to find any clue or resemblance of one to maintain his resolve and sanity. The second character whom we meet is Katie, a waitress who notices Gabe and wishes he finds what he’s looking for. She’s a single mother who’s strapped for money and time, lastly there’s Fran and Alice who are running from someone or something. Then there’s the Samaritan who as a character inspite of his name, is deeply terrifying.

This is a story that deeply hinges on one of the most thrilling concepts that I’ve read and it does its job spectacularly well. The story is all about mysteries, what really happened to Gabe’s family? Who are Fran and Alice running from? What’s the Samaritan’s secret? And lastly who are the titular characters of this story?

All of these mysteries and more are thoroughly populated within the story. The reader will be forced to go along and try to figure them out quickly but as one unspools, another takes its place and so it continues. The characters are well drawn out and all of them have been bogged down by life in general. But they are charismatic in their own way and we are drawn to them and willingly follow them down the rabbit hole that is the main plot thread. I loved this aspect of the story wherein I wasn’t quite sure of what was truly happening.

Yes it absolutely all makes sense and in grounded in the world that we live in and know. But there’s just a small tickle of something paranormal that’s a bit hard to explain and which makes the story that much more exciting and terrifying all the same. The pace of the story unlike a thriller isn’t rollicking all the way through, but believe me you won’t be able to stop as each new mystery and plot wrinkle unfolds. CJ Tudor is an absolute master in twisting readers’ minds with her precise words and enticing scenarios. She knows exactly which mental buttons will make us sit up and gasp in terror. This terror, I want to clarify is the subtle kind and it creeps up on you far quicker than you can imagine. It’s also deadlier than the gore kind and it absolutely dominates during certain parts of the story.

For me, this read was a terrific and terrifying one thanks to its main mystery and the author’s masterful execution of the plot. I don’t think there ever will be a sequel to this story but the world introduced within might be one that readers will feel like visiting again. Especially if we can get to know more about the Samaritan and whatever it is that motivates him. There’s no other issues for me in this book.

CONCLUSION: Terrifying, taut and incredibly mysterious, The Other People is CJ Tudor’s proclamation to the mystery genre about her presence. Plus what a presence it is, rivaling Stephen King’s earlier work with its tinge of cerebral horror and masterful suspense. The Other People is a book that should fare extremely well for anyone who loves to read a mysterious book about loss, grief and the rage of a loved one.

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