Published by Ballantine Books on January 28, 2020
A gripping new thriller about a man's quest for the daughter no one else believes is still alive, from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl's face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: 'Daddy.' It's his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.
Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe's daughter.
Then, the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found, in a lake, with a body inside and Gabe is forced to confront events, not just from the night his daughter disappeared, but from far deeper in his past.
His search leads him to a group called The Other People.
If you have lost a loved one, The Other People want to help. Because they know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like.
There's just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.
I wasn’t going to buy any more books besides my monthly Book of the Month purchases. And then our beloved booksandlala created her own mystery/thriller book club on GoodReads – the Literally Dead Book Club – and suddenly, I had to buy another damn book. The first book in Lala’s new club was a new release by C.J. Tudor: The Other People. I read Tudor’s first book, The Chalk Man, last year and enjoyed myself well enough. I didn’t have super high hopes for The Other People, because Chalk Man felt like an exercise in “meh” for me, but I figured I’d give it a try! I’m glad I did – it was definitely interesting, even if not my standard fare.
Applicable PopSugar 2020 Prompts: A book that’s published in 2020, A book that passes the Bechdel test, A book with a three-word title
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Gabe is driving home from work one day when he sees what he swears is his daughter peeking up at him from the back seat of the truck in front of him. She makes eye contact and mouths “daddy!” before she’s turned around. Spooked, Gabe tries to tail the truck and when he loses line of sight, he peels off the road and makes a call home – only to be told by a police officer to come home immediately. Turns out his wife and daughter were just killed during a burglary. Only that can’t be, because he just saw his daughter Izzy in that truck. He knows it.
The problem? The cops don’t seem to agree, not do his in-laws. Nobody does.
Now it’s been three years. Gabe spends his time driving up and down the motorway, looking for that truck, some sign of life from Izzy. In another perspective, we see a young lady in a hospital bed, kept alive by machines. We don’t know who she is or why she’s here, but we do know that she’s got an attentive nurse and a seashell that must be quite important to her. And in yet another perspective, we meet Fran and her young charge Alice, a little girl who isn’t her daughter but might as well be. They’re running, but we aren’t sure why. What we do know is that Alice is prone to fits of what could be narcolepsy – she falls out, mirrors break around her, and when she comes to there is always a small beach pebble nearby. Alice collects them in a sack, and carries it around like a security blanket.
These perspectives are connected, though it’s by wispy threads that’s hard to see in normal light. To give any more detail would begin to give spoilers, so I’ll just say this: they have quite an interesting story together involving the Other People – an organization from the dark web where, if you feel someone you love was wronged, they can take care of that for you. For a price …
The Bottom Line
I had a problem with The Chalk Man, which was “this is a whole lot of coincidences and nobody seems to ask enough questions to the right people.” I have the similar issue with The Other People. Things happen that really shouldn’t, the police don’t dig nearly as deep as they probably should to investigate some of these happenings, and all of the children in this story seem to act far too precocious.
There is also a supernatural element here, and while I really enjoy them typically, it seems to come in as a sort of “hail Mary” pass at the eleventh hour, and that irritated me as well. Overall, The Other People had a good premise, and some really interesting character development and plot shenanigans. The Other People as a concept are super cool! But it wasn’t enough to save it in my book. I think Tudor books will be library-only for me from now on, unfortunately.
“Families were just strangers, bonded to each other by accidents of birth and misplaced duty. You couldn’t choose your family. You couldn’t even choose whether to love them or not. You just sort of had to. Whatever they put you through.”