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August 23, 2016

It should have been an idyllic day for the Turner family – until a dying man, beaten beyond all recognition, arrives at their home, uttering the words, HELP ME.

Rob and Wendy Turner and their children try to explain away the horrific scene as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in the days that follow their lives are threatened in ways they could never imagine.

The family is unaware that they are being watched by someone with their own terrifying agenda, who will stop at nothing to fulfil their own twisted desires.

But when hidden secrets come rushing to the surface, it’s clear not everything is as it seems in this happy family. Are the Turners a victim of circumstance – or does the key to their fate lie closer to home?

Forced to fight for everything they hold dear, can they save themselves before time runs out – or will their act of compassion see them paying the ultimate price…?

A heart-stopping, shocking and tense thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page.

Rob and Wendy Turner are a decent, middle class couple. Rob’s business is struggling, following an unfortunate choice of business partner and he has been working hard to restore both his business and his good trading name since that time.  Rob and Wendy have twin sons, Josh and Evan and an adopted daughter, Georgia.

Their marriage is at the point where one of them is seriously wondering whether there is anything worthwhile in carrying on any more; it’s not that they are rowing, more that the question of whether or not they still have enough in common, still want the same things, is one that crops up more frequently than ever before.

But on a tranquil Sunday afternoon, those thoughts are not to the fore as they enjoy a barbecue in their back garden.  Suddenly Rob hears a distressing noise at the rear fence. Opening the back gate, he finds a man, barely alive, beaten and bloody, crying out for help.

Has this man found his way to them by accident, or is there something more sinister at work that has led him to them? Rob is fearful, though he can’t or will not, put into words what it is that worries him.

He is right to be concerned. As the police become involved it becomes clear that the man has been brutally murdered.  Strange things begin to happen and the family are left bewildered and not a little afraid as they try to make sense of something that makes no sense to them at all.

They decide to proceed with their family holiday to a remote cottage in Norfolk (beware of remote cottages in thrillers, folks) in order to have some rest and put the distressing murder at some distance.  Here is where we learn more about Georgia, Josh and Evan, three young people who could not be more different. Each of the characters is very well written and together Bale presents a very well-drawn picture of the family. I especially enjoyed Josh – a young man clearly destined to go far in the world of commerce, whose far thinking and utterly logical approach to getting his degree rang very true in an uncomfortable way.

Georgia, too is a complex young woman. Her relationship with the rest of the family has its own troubled backstory and her fight to love and be loved is one that plays on the heartstrings as she struggles to come to terms with who she is and what she wants.

In Norfolk, their planned restful idyll is soon blown apart by a psychotic bunch of people whose aim it seems is nothing more than to derive pleasure from planning and executing mindless wanton violence; whose pleasure is derived from fear and who, it seems, have picked this family because they could.

But not everything is as it seems to be, and it soon becomes clear that as the family fight for their lives, there is more than chance at work here and a ruthless killer has targeted this family for his own special reasons.

This is a taut thriller with many shocking twists and turns and a conclusion that took me by surprise.

For large parts of the book I found it hard to engage with Rob, a man who pretty much makes all the wrong decisions, albeit for good reason.

All Fall Down is in many ways a gripping read, but in the end because I didn’t really warm to Rob, I found myself deeply troubled by the morality and the consequences of his actions.

That said, Tom Bale is clearly a clever writer with an excellent mind and gifted characterisation. The plot structure is very good and I just didn’t see the end coming.

I look forward to reading more of his work.

All Fall Down is published by Bookouture on 1 Sept. 2016

My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy – this has not influenced my review.

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