Title: The Missing
Author: C. L. Taylor
Release Date: March 2016
My Rating: 6/10 Alright
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?
Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…
I received this book as a gift for my birthday, along with C. L. Taylor’s other two thrillers, and was looking forward to reading them. I have to admit, the mixed reviews on Goodreads left me slightly apprehensive, but this sounded like exactly my sort of thing.
I absolutely steamed through this book. I haven’t read a book so quickly in months, however that doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed it. I spent the first few chapters expecting it to pick up and get exciting, but it never happened. There was no shock or twist, and was very 12A/PG-13 in its graphic content. There was nothing gritty or particularly disturbing about it, and I feel it lacked the attributes needed to be a truly good thriller. In a similar regard, I also think the term ‘psychological thriller’ is being thrown around in a very loose manner at the moment, mainly off the back of Gillian Flynn’s success with Gone Girl. I would not put this in the psychological thriller category. There is nothing about it that messes with my mind in any way; it is much more conventionally written.
I always feel bad criticising an author’s writing, but I feel I have to here. The prose, although faced-paced, is really rather simplistic. It doesn’t read like the work of an established author, and does have a few odd grammatical choices. I’ll not call them errors, but places where a comma could have been used. There are also cases of sentences being pretty much repeated. That being said, I did quite like the conversational style; I felt this helped to keep the story moving a long at such a pace. I also feel that Taylor really tried to leave red herrings and throw the reader off course, but they weren’t quite executed well enough. I found the climax underwhelming, and had already pretty much guessed who was responsible for Billy’s disappearance.
I also struggled to keep track of the timescale. The first couple of chapters started by listing the date as the chapter title, and I think it should have continued in this vain. It was never entirely clear how many hours, days, or weeks had passed between chapters and that left me slightly confused. In a similar vein, the scenes were not entirely clear in my head. As an example, one minute Claire is standing and a photo album is on the table, and the next minute, the photo album is beside her on the sofa. There is no link between the two, and it is quite disorienting. Perhaps that’s what the author intended, as Claire herself is supposed to be in a constant state of distress and confusion? If it is, I’m not sure it quite works.
The characters are generally good. They are as relatable as can be, although there is little character development. I didn’t necessarily feel much for any of them and perhaps this is why I was very shocked by the ending. There is an appropriate uneasiness about the family relationship, that makes you wonder what each of them are hiding. Everyone has some sort of secret, and everyone feels guilty. This is one of the main things that keeps you turning the pages. We know that at least one of the secrets is something relating to Billy’s disappearance, yet we are still curious to find out about the others.
This book attempts to deal with the issues of parenting, teenage rebellion, pornography, pedophilia, suicide, obsession, infidelity, trust, to name a few, but I don’t think it goes far enough with any of them; they are underdeveloped. I feel like Taylor should have simply chosen two or three main issues to really focus on and left it at that. It was as if she was just slotting different problems in for shock value, rather than as a plot device.
Overall, this book was fine. Alright. I didn’t love it, but something about it managed to keep me interested enough to keep reading. I did want to find out what happened to Billy, and was intrigued by the secrets the family were keeping from each other. I have to say, although I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to, it hasn’t put me off reading Taylor’s other two novels. I already have copies of them, after all. I will just avoid going in with as high expectations this time. Maybe I’ll enjoy one of them more.