The Twyford Code – Janice Hallett – 3🌟

Steven Smith has recently been released from prison, and is using his new lease on life to investigate a mystery that has been on his mind since childhood. Forty years ago Steven found a strange book on the bus to school. He gave it to his teacher Miss Isles, who became convinced that the book was full of secret codes. Shortly after discovering the book Miss Isles disappeared, and Steven is determined to find out what happened to her.

I loved the premise of this one, the idea of secret codes hidden in books is like a dream come true for me. Unfortunately I found the execution to be flawed, so it wasn’t one of my favourite reads.

I think one of the main things that contributed to my feelings on this one was that I didn’t feel connected to the characters. I thought from early on that Steven was unreliable as a narrator, and got the impression he was making things up. I didn’t care for him and so wasn’t really invested in him finding answers. He’s the only character we really spend any time with, the supporting characters are exactly that and we don’t get to know much more about them. I also wasn’t really interested in Steven’s past. I did like the way Hallett brought things together at the end and his history became very relevant, but until that point I wasn’t that fussed for reading about it.

The other thing that put me off was that the codes didn’t make any sense to me. The way we are supposed to read them keeps changing as the book progresses, so you never really have a chance of figuring them out. I usually enjoy reading about puzzles and codes, and hidden trails, but I like to feel like I’ve got a chance of figuring things out myself rather than having to have everything explained to me. Perhaps other readers were able to do that here but I couldn’t and that frustrated me.

The use of audio transcripts is an interesting way to go about writing a book. I’m not exactly sure why Hallett would choose that over a more traditional style, but it actually does work pretty well, especially once you get used to interpreting the mistranslations and things.

I think this one will have huge appeal for people who like books that are written in a different style, or enjoy not knowing exactly what is going on until the very last minute. Stay away if you don’t like open endings though!

Thanks to NetGalley and Viper Books for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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