It’s time to solve the murder of the century…
Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his remedial English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced it was the key to solving a puzzle. That a message in secret code ran through all Edith Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Isles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven’s memory won’t allow him to remember what happened. Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Isles 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 Isles, 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…
Hi and welcome to my review of The Twyford Code!
Well… this was quite the mindfuck! Leave it to Janice Hallett to come up with a mystery that neatly hops over the boundaries of the genre! After The Appeal, that came as no surprise. I’m sure I’m not the only one who longed for Hallett’s second book before there was even any mention of The Twyford Code. I went in with huge expectations, yet a part of me felt sure she could never equal The Appeal, for one because she lost the element of surprise: readers of her debut would go in expecting to be dazzled and bamboozled, and therefore wouldn’t be. Dear reader, I’m not at all sorry to admit I was dead wrong.
The Twyford Code is completely different from The Appeal, but just as original. No small community and trying to figure out who did what to whom and who was convicted for it, instead you get one man’s story and a piece of world history that might not have gone down the way you were always told it did. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I didn’t encounter a mad hatter or a talking cat but I might as well have for all the wonder I felt.
The Twyford Code kicks off with a bunch of transcripts delivered to a professor so he might help solve a “mysterious case”. These transcripts are from audio files found on the phone of a missing person. With each batch of transcripts, I was drawn deeper into the story, I slid further down the rabbit hole and truth be told, by the end I hardly knew which way was up. I became entirely obsessed with solving the Twyford code and figuring out all the side mysteries.
While I did figure out some things here and there, and had some suspicions that were later confirmed, the finale caught me completely unawares. The less you know, the better, all I can say is that The Twyford Code is masterfully plotted and cleverly executed and part of me is convinced there are hidden messages left to be found. If I had the time and the kind of analytical mind one would need to pull it off, I’d go back and tear it apart looking for Easter eggs.
If you enjoy stories that boggle the mind, tales that puzzle you, enigmas that put your little grey cells to work, basically a mindfuck of a book, do yourself a favour and dive into The Twyford Code as soon as you can, you won’t regret it.
The Twyford Code is out now in digital formats and hardcover, happy publication day to Janice Hallett! The paperback will follow in July.
Massive thanks to Viper and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.