Today I am super excited to be hosting the next stop on the blog tour for The Missing by C. L. Taylor, this is her third psychology thriller, and I think it’s her best book yet. You can read an excerp from The Missing and my review further down the post. Many thanks to Helena over at Avon books and C. L. Taylor for letting me be part of this blog tour.
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
From chapter 2 of The Missing
‘Jake, give me that!’ Kira’s screech carries down the stairs and there’s a loud thump from the bedroom above as something, or someone, hits the floor.
I kick off Jake’s shoes and take the stairs two at a time, cross the landing and fly into his bedroom without stopping to knock. There’s a flurry of activity as Kira and Jake jump away from each other. Barely five foot tall with blonde hair that falls past her shoulders, Kira looks tiny and doll-like in her pink knickers and a tight white T-shirt. Jake is bare-chested, naked apart from a pair of black jockey shorts that cling to his hips. His shoulders and chest are so broad and muscled he seems to fill the room. At his feet is a shattered bottle leaking pale brown liquid onto the beige carpet. There are shards of glass on the pile of weights plates beside it.
‘Mum!’ Jake leaps away from Kira, planting his right foot on the broken bottle. He howls in anguish as a shard of clear glass embeds itself in his sole.
‘Don’t!’ I shout, but he’s already yanked it out. Bright red blood gushes out, covering his fingers and dripping onto the carpet.
‘Don’t move!’ I sprint to the bathroom and grab the first towel I see. When I return to the bedroom Jake is sitting on the bed, one hand gripping his ankle, the other pressed over the wound. Blood seeps between his fingers. Kira, still standing in the centre of the room, is ashen. I pick my way carefully through the broken glass on the floor, then crouch on the carpet in front of Jake. It stinks of alcohol.
He winces as he peels his fingers away from his foot. The wound isn’t more than half a centimetre across but it’s deep and blood is still gushing out. I wrap the towel as tightly around it as I can in an attempt to stem the flow.
‘Hold it here.’ I gesture for Jake to press his hands over the towel. ‘I need to get a safety pin.’
Seconds later I’m back in the bedroom and attempting to secure the makeshift bandage around my son’s foot. There are dark circles under his eyes and the skin is pulled too tight over his cheekbones. Mark and I weren’t the only ones who didn’t sleep last night.
‘What happened, Jake?’ I ask carefully.
He looks past me to Kira who is pulling on some clothes. Her lips part and, for a second, I think she’s about to speak but then she lowers her eyes and wriggles into her jeans. Downstairs the back door opens with a thud as Mark makes his way back into the house, then there’s a click-click sound as he paces backwards and forwards on the kitchen tiles. In a minute he’ll be up the stairs, asking what the hold-up is.
I sniff at Jake. His breath smells pungent. ‘Were you drinking that rum before I came in?’
‘Well? Were you?’
‘I had a few last night, that’s all.’
‘And then some.’ I pluck a large piece of glass from the carpet. Most of the label is still affixed. ‘What the hell were you thinking?’
‘I’m stressed, okay?’
‘I haven’t got enough for a taxi,’ Kira says plaintively, reaching into her jeans pocket and proffering a palm of small change.
‘Claire?’ Mark’s voice booms up the stairs. ‘It’s eight o’clock. We have to go. Now!’
‘I need to leave,’ Kira says. ‘There’s a college trip to London today – we’re going to the National Portrait Gallery – and I’m supposed to be at the train station for half eight.’
‘Okay, okay.’ I gesture for her to stop panicking. ‘Give me a sec.’
‘Mark?’ I step out onto the landing and shout down the stairs. ‘Have you got any cash on you?’
‘About three quid,’ he shouts back. ‘Why?’
‘Right.’ I step back into Jake’s bedroom. ‘Kira, I’ll give you a lift to the train station. And as for you, Jake . . .’ There’s no blood on the towel I’ve pinned around his foot but he’ll still need the wound to be cleaned and a tetanus jab. If there was time I’d drop Kira at the station and then take Jake to the doctor’s but it would mean doubling back on myself and I can’t be late for the appeal. Why did this have to happen today of all days?
‘Okay.’ I make a snap decision. ‘Jake, stay here and sober up and I’ll drive you to the GP’s when I get back. If you need anything, Liz is next door. She’s not working until later.’
‘No, I’m coming with you. I need to go to the press conference.’ Jake grimaces as he pushes himself up and off the bed and hops onto his good foot so we’re face to face. Unlike Billy who shot up when he hit twelve, Jake’s height has never crept above five foot nine. The boys couldn’t have an argument without Billy slipping in some sly jab about his older brother’s stature. Jake would retaliate and then World War III would break out.
‘Claire!’ Mark shouts again, louder this time. He’ll fly off the handle if he sees the state Jake is in. ‘Claire! DS Forbes is here. We need to go!’
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ I hiss at Jake as Kira pulls an apologetic face and squeezes past me. She presses herself up against the linen cupboard on the landing, pulls on her coat and then roots around in the pockets.
‘Billy was my brother,’ Jake says. His face crumples and for a split second he looks like a child again, but then a tendon in his neck pulses and he raises his chin. ‘You can’t stop me from going.’
‘You’ve been drinking,’ I say as levelly as I can. ‘If you want to help Billy, then the best thing you can do right now is stay at home and sleep it off. We’ll talk when I get back.’
‘Claire!’ Mark shouts from the top of the stairs.
‘Mum . . .’ Jake reaches a hand towards me but I’m already halfway out the door. I yank it shut behind me, just as Mark draws level.
‘Is Jake ready?’
‘He’s not well.’ I press my palms against the door.
‘What’s wrong with him?’
‘Stomach upset,’ Kira says, her soft voice cutting through the awkward pause. ‘He was up all night with it. It must have been the vindaloo.’
I shoot her a grateful look. Poor girl, getting caught up in our family drama when the very reason she moved in with us was to escape from her own.
Mark glances at the closed door behind me, then his eyes meet mine. ‘Are we off then?’
‘I need to drop Kira at the train station for her college trip. You go on ahead with DS Forbes and I’ll meet you there.’
‘How’s that going to look? The two of us turning up separately?’ Mark looks at Kira. ‘Why didn’t you mention this trip last—’ He sighs. ‘Never mind. Forget it. I’ll see you there, Claire.’
He hasn’t changed his trousers. The greasy oil stain is still visible, a dark mark on his left thigh, but I haven’t got the heart to mention it.
About C. L. Taylor
CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing as a sales administrator. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She now writes full time.
CL Taylor’s first psychological thriller The Accident was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second novel, The Lie charted at number 5 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list. Combined sales of both novels have now exceeded half a million copies in the UK alone.
Her international bestselling romantic comedies (written as Cally Taylor), HEAVEN CAN WAIT and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS were both published by Orion in the UK. They have been translated into 14 different languages, and her debut was voted ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by chicklitreviews.com and chicklitclub.com.
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The Missing is the latest psychological thriller by C. L. Taylor, and oh my god! From the first page I was totally gripped, it’s gritty and very realistic.The Missing starts 6 months after fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, Claire the mother 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 Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
As a mother myself I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain of loosing a child, especially not knowing what had happened to them. Thanks to C.L. Taylor’s superb construction of characters, I felt Claire’s every emotion anger, helplessness, suspicion and heartbreak at the situation she found herself in. As the story unfolds each member of the family has reason to feel guilty regarding Billy’s disappearance, and each have secret’s they would prefer to keep hidden. This makes for a very believable read, as the story doesn’t present you with the “perfect” family, Claire and her husband aren’t the perfect parents, are any of us? We try our best, but can we truly know our children as they gain their independence? Are our children as perfect as we would like to think they are? These are all questions that are explored as the plot unravels the family strand by strand, making for a tense and at times an uncomfortable read.
The story is told mostly from Claire’s point of view and at times I found her narrative unreliable, as she starts to doubt herself and other members of her family, but this only adds to the tension of the plot. Throughout The Missing we read What’s App messages between two people, each one becomes darker and more intense and you find yourself suspecting numerous characters throughout the book, and the reasons behind them. The Missing is the ultimate psychological thriller as it contains all the elements you would expect in this genre, it messes, with your head and emotions, it’s gripping with just enough twist and turns to build on the tension, with an intricately woven plot. C.L Taylor has written another high caliber psychological thriller that will keep readers wanting more from this very talented author.
5☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (7 April 2016)