Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: 23 January 2020 from Michael Joseph
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 . . .
I sincerely hope C.J. Tudor is celebrating her publication day today, because The Other People is a cracker and I think her best book yet, which is saying something, as I have loved her others.
This book swept me up in its story and carried me along with it every step of the way. It was impossible not to be consumed by Gabe’s tragic story.
Never the best of husbands, Gabe is travelling home on the M1, late yet again, when he thinks he sees his daughter in the back of a rusty car, covered in stickers, driving past him. The girl mouths one word from the back of the car – ‘Daddy’. But Gabe knows that can’t be Izzy, because five year old Izzy is safe at home with his wife, Jennifer.
He calls home to speak to his wife and that’s when he learns of their brutal murder from the police officer who answers the phone. Traumatised, knowing the police want to talk to him, he races home.
Gabe is destroyed by this event. Never really escaping the suspicion, relentlessly fuelled by media attention, that he was somehow responsible for their deaths, he finds he can’t shake that image of a girl who looked just like Izzy that he saw just before he received the news in that awful phone call.
Now, three years after, he spends his days on that same motorway, living in a camper van so that he can be close to the road, hoping to find the car he saw, or to find someone who did. He regularly stops at the same motorway service stations, giving out fliers in the hope that someone else might have seen Izzy and remember something that could help track down that little girl he saw through the window.
C’J. Tudor’s book weaves together Gabe’s story with that of an unknown girl, who lies comatose in a room somewhere; with Katie, a single mother waiting tables at a service station and with Fran and Katie, a mother constantly on the run with her daughter.
This is Gabe’s story, interwoven with those of Katie and Fran. Tudor paints a remarkable picture of a deeply lonely and distraught man broken by grief, keeping it together only because of his mission to track down that elusive car.
An encounter with a strange man who goes by the name of The Samaritan leads him to ‘The Other People’ and an injection of a chilling, dark and very creepy storyline which is horrifying in both concept and execution.
In an intricate and beautifully layered narrative, dripping with menace, Tudor shows us the lengths that people are prepared to go to when their grief is so strong that only thoughts of the impossible can drive them forward.
Is Gabe an unreliable narrator and was he really responsible for the deaths of Jennifer and Izzy? What secrets is Gabe hiding? And if he didn’t kill them, who did, and why?
Gabe’s desperate search for Izzy grasps the reader in its clutches and doesn’t let go until the terrible, heart-breaking truth is revealed.
Verdict: A powerful and illuminating portrait of loss and grief leads to an understanding of the lengths that people will go to in their search for justice and revenge. The Other People is a brilliantly conceived psychological thriller that ramps up and maintains tension as Tudor combines spooky elements with a clever twisty plot to create a fantastic, chilling story of grief and the quest for justice and revenge. Highly recommended.
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, and has recently moved to Kent with her partner and young daughter.Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter , copywriter and now, author.