Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of C.L. Taylor’s fantastic psychological thriller, ‘The Missing’. I’ve read all of C.L. Taylor’s adult thrillers now, and I absolutely love her novels! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them.
But should you…?
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…
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of mental illness, specifically dissociative disorders and fugues, as well as suicide attempts. Explores the themes of abduction and online grooming. Contains scenes detailing sexual abuse, including revenge porn. Includes references to alcoholism and drug use. Explores the theme of infidelity.
‘THE MISSING’ (2016) is C.L. Taylor’s third adult psychological thriller, following on from ‘THE ACCIDENT’ (2014) and ‘THE LIE’ (2015). Since then, she has also written ‘THE ESCAPE’ (2017), ‘THE FEAR’ (2018) and ‘Sleep’ (2019). She has also released some young adult thrillers. In the past, she has written various short stories and romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor). Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.
The book has received positive reviews, from the likes of Fabulous: “Well-written, pacy and gripping” and SUN: “Kept me guessing till the end”. Many fellow authors also praised the novel, such as Tammy Cohen: “I devoured this compelling novel about the secrets and lies at the dark heart of family life”, Mel Sherratt: “Engrossed me from start to finish” and Fiona Barton: “The Missing has a delicious sense of foreboding from the first page”.
‘THE MISSING’ follows the lives of the Wilkinson family, particularly mother Claire, who are struggling to come to terms with on Billy’s disappearance. Claire is desperate to find her son and decides to take matters into her own hands … with disasterous consequences.
The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Claire, providing the reader with an in-depth perspective of her thoughts, feelings and emotions. The novel is mostly narrated in the present day, but also includes some flashbacks to the past. Some sections include WhatsApp messages between two unnamed characters. The narrative is simple to follow, yet still very effective.
Claire is my favourite character in the novel. She is an extremely selfless character who always puts others before herself. She simply cannot believe that her son Billy would walk out on the family, and she becomes certain that there is much more to his disappearance. Claire begins to suffer from fugues (blackouts), which become increasingly terrifying. She becomes completely overwhelmed and struggles to cope. Claire is a strong-willed, determined character, and I really admired her strength. I felt a great deal of emotions towards Claire – she is a brilliantly-written character.
Claire’s other son Jake is a typical teenager. He too is struggling to come to terms with his brother’s disappearance, but the emotions he regularly expresses are anger and rage. Jake turns to other means in order to cope, and he becomes more and more withdrawn. But it soon becomes clear that there’s a lot more to Jake than first meets the eye, and perhaps he knows more about Billy’s disappearance than he is letting on. I really enjoyed finding more out about Jake as the novel progresses.
Jake’s girlfriend, Kira, lives with them in the family home. Her own family situation is very toxic, and she has suffered a lot of hardships in her life. She is eternally grateful to Claire for letting her live with them, but something is stopping her from forming a proper relationship with Claire. She’s very quiet and mysterious, and it soon becomes clear that she may be hiding something. Kira is another very well-written character.
Other characters in the novel include: Mark (Claire’s husband), Claire’s parents, Liz (Claire’s best friend), Stephen (Claire’s boss), Claire’s therapist, and various members of the police force looking for Billy. There is a relatively small cast of characters in the novel, but all bring something fresh and exciting to the narrative.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel explores the theme of mental illness in great detail, specifically complex dissociative disorders and suffering from fugues (blackouts caused by stress). The reader is given a deep insight to the fear and danger caused during these episodes. Depression and suicide attempts are also detailed in the book. The theme of abduction and online grooming is also explored. The novel contains scenes detailing sexual abuse and hardcore sexual fantasies, as well as revenge porn and blackmail. The novel includes references to alcoholism and drug use, and also touches on the theme of infidelity. All of these issues are dealt with sensitively, but if you feel that they may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, more curveballs are thrown into the mix and it becomes almost impossible to decipher what really happened to Billy. Claire’s mental state begins to deteriorate, and she finds herself in some very dangerous situations. Will they ever discover the truth about Billy’s disappearance?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a shocking end scene in which everything is finally revealed. The truth about Billy’s disappearance is uncovered, and the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together. I was on the edge of my seat during the ending – I simply couldn’t tear my eyes away! I felt very satisfied by the ending, and felt that Taylor did a great job of tying together all the loose ends.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly ones about missing children. The plot is fantastic, and there is a great deal of suspense generated throughout the novel. My only criticism is that I felt a couple of the characters could have been stronger – but that being said, I still really enjoyed the book! An excellent read.
Happy reading 🙂