The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

When I read Janice Hallett’s first novel, The Appeal, I couldn’t imagine her second novel could be able to top its mastery. Boy, was I wrong! The Twyford Code is a magnificent, skillfully, shrewdly crafted puzzle.

Steven “Smithy” Smith had a very difficult childhood. His parents left and his brother who was only a bit older had to try and take care of him. Left on his own accord, one day over 40 years ago he found a copy of a book by an author named Edith Twyford on a bus. Unable to read, he shows the book to his teacher. She decides to read the story to the class. But in the process, she is convinced there is something more going on in the story than just the story. She is sure the book is some sort of code for something. She decides to take the class on a field trip to Twyfold’s home and she disappears.

Flash forward to the present where Smithy has just gotten out of prison after 11 years and is finally able to read. Never having gotten over what could possibly have caused his teacher’s mysterious disappearance, curiosity about the book that led them on that field trip and the guilt he still feels that he was the cause of all this because be brought the book to her attention, he decides to try and investigate the mystery.

Through a series of voice recordings on his son’s old phone, Smithy sets out to find some of his friends from that class who were on that fateful fieldtrip many years ago. He wants to see if they are able to fill the blanks in his memory of what actually happened that day.

As he investigates, he focuses on this code his teacher seems to have discovered. What could the code possibly be for? Perhaps treasure? More importantly, how does one go about finding a code in a story? As he pieces together clues with the help of his childhood friends he also begins to reminisce about his life as a child as well as what led up to him going to prison.

He decides to leave his recordings to his parole officer, Maxine and is helped by a local librarian named Lucy who becomes his sidekick. But as they delve deeper into the Twyford stories and begin to put the code together, some of his past problems begin to haunt his present. You see, not everybody is happy he is out of jail. He feels he must solve this problem quickly before something happens to him. He worries about endangering what is left of his family. His brother is living in squalor and entertains very shifty characters, his son, now grown is estranged from him and refuses to take his calls.

But he and his friends and Lucy persevere in the hopes that he can somehow crack the code in order to find out what really happened all those years ago, and where, if there is a treasure could it possibly be. Or has it already vanished, taken by someone who has already broken the code and found it.

Hopefully all this hard work will not be for nothing.

In classic Hallett style, The Twyford Code is unlike any novel you will have ever read. And the ending? Perfection! The book is a wonderfully imaginative narration!

Thank you #NetGalley #AtriaBooks #TheTwyfordCode #JaniceHallett for the advanced copy.

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