The Other People by C.J. Tudor
My rating: (3.5 / 5)
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .
Three years ago, Gabe saw his Daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.
Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.
Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or ‘the thin man’ as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him, because Katie understands what it’s like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn’t seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.
[I received a copy through NetGalley and Pigeonhole, in exchange for an honest review.]
The time I needed to read this book doesn’t correspond to how enjoyable it was—I would normally have read it faster, only I made the mistake of starting it during a period where what I really wanted to read was non fiction. So, even though it took me one month to finish, I actually liked it (more than other novels by the same author, in fact).
The story’s premise rests on something a parent’s worst nightmare (or so I assume): seeing their child abducted or killed. One fateful evening, Gabe came back from work only to see his only daughter riding in a stranger’s car, then find out his wife and daughter were savagely murdered… but wasn’t the little girl in a car on the motorway? Since that day, Gabe has been travelling the roads in the hopes of finding information about his missing daughter—a daughter that everyone else sees as dead—aided only by a mysterious man who calls himself “the Samaritan”.
The novel has us follow different characters: Gabe himself, of course, but also Fran and Alice, a woman and her daughter who may or may not have strange powers, and Katie, who works as a waitress in a restaurant off the motorway. While their trajectories appear independent at first, they gradually start to tangle and make sense, for all of them are, in fact, involved in what is unfurling here. This goes on at a pace that I found just right for me—not too quick, not too slow, with just enough information to make me imagine what was going on, without allowing me to guess the ending.
Overall, the story here is dark and creepy, often raising so many questions that one can’t help but wonder if all of them will get answers. And they don’t always—at the end of the novel, there were still a couple of things I couldn’t explain, even though overall there was an explanation to most of the ploy. This was partly annoying (I’m thinking of the ‘supernatural’ aspect here, to be more specific), but I found it didn’t detract from my enjoyment, or not as much as I thought it would, so that still makes it 3.5 stars for me.
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