'Stranger danger' at heart of thriller
The Escape is the fourth psychological thriller from Bristol-based best-selling author CL Taylor. Her previous offerings The Accident, The Lie and The Missing (not the TV drama series of the same name) sold more than one million copies.
The plot kicks off when a total stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift. She reluctantly says yes, and when the situation takes a sinister turn, she wishes she hadn't. The woman knows Jo's name, that her husband is called Max and that they have a two-year-old daughter named Elise. When the stranger then produces a glove belonging to Elise and tells Jo that she should take better care of her daughter's belongings, Jo freaks out.
Knowing that Jo suffers from agoraphobia and is prone to extreme anxiety, Max, an investigative reporter at the local newspaper, accuses her of blowing the incident out of all proportion and tells her not to worry. But when a tip-off leads police to a stash of illegal drugs hidden in their home and unexplained bruising appears on Elise, Jo knows she and her daughter are in serious danger.
With her husband and others around her constantly dismissing her worries, Jo feels she has little choice but to go on the run in a bid to keep her child safe.
Although billed as 'electrifying', I found this novel quite pedestrian. The first half is particularly drawn out and would have benefited from more rigorous editing. The action moves from Bristol to a coastal town in the north east of Ireland in the second half and the tension definitely revs up, but the plot twists felt very contrived and convenient.
With a plethora of psychological thrillers on the market at the moment, the competition in this genre is extremely intense and readers, not surprisingly, have high expectations. While this offering is slightly wide of the mark, if you're a fan of CL Taylor's previous work, you will no doubt enjoy it.