I love a good ‘who done it’ and so when my sister recommended The Missing by C. L. Taylor, I was more than intrigued. The book tells the story of the Wilkinsons. When fifteen year old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother Claire, understandably, is distraught. She blames herself for her son’s disappearance but then, so it seems, does every member of Billy’s family. When Claire and her husband Mark make a six month appeal to the media, things go horribly wrong and the terrifying truth of Billy’s disappearance begins to surface. Claire is sure that Billy is still alive and that her family had nothing to do with his disappearance – a mother’s instinct is never wrong – or is it?
This is the first book I have read by C. L. Taylor and I have to admit I loved it from start to finish. The story is told from Claire Wilkinson’s perspective. I thought this was a clever storytelling tool as the reader discovers the truth to Billy’s disappearance alongside his mother, and as a result the emotions Claire experiences are easily transferable to the reader, making the journey much more affecting. It would have been easy for Claire to have been a weak character but instead she is a strong female, who after experiencing such a personal tragedy as the loss of her son, goes on a journey of not only discovering what happened to Billy but also a journey of self discovery.
What is also immediately apparent from C. L. Taylor’s storytelling is that she is incredibly masterful at creating layered and realistic characters. As Claire’s suspicions are raised about the capabilities of each member of the family, including her own capacity to do harm, Taylor subtly reveals the flaws and secrets that this family, who are supposed to know each other better than anyone else, have been keeping hidden from each other. This worked in two ways: it made the characters more relatable and also helped ramp up the suspense.
From the outset of this book, I was immediately engrossed to find out what happened to Billy Wilkinson. The Missing is an exceptional psychological thriller than plays with your head. By establishing such a strong link with Claire, the reader is left constantly questioning and doubting each and every one of Billy’s family members. The book is also filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing right to the end. The Missing is a fabulously paced and crafted thriller which has totally made me a want to read more works by C. L. Taylor.