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Crime thriller set in WILTSHIRE

24th November 2022

The Girls Who Disappeared by Clare Douglas, crime thriller set in Wiltshire.

Crime thriller set in WILTSHIRE

The author has crafted a potent opening. It is the middle of the night. A man is standing in the middle of The Devil’s Corridor, a road that bisects a dense forest; a car accident ensues. The vehicle rolls over and the driver – Olivia –  is knocked out and trapped. She returns to consciousness a little while later, only to discover the female passengers, who were with her, have disappeared. She then has years of rehab to stabilise her broken body and she is cared for by her mother and her boyfriend Wesley, as she gradually picks up the pieces of her life. The accident happened in 1998.

Jenna is a journalist and now, in 2018, she is intrigued by the case as it comes up to the 20 year anniversary. The investigations back then turned up nothing and now she is working for the BBC, determined to create a podcast. She heads down to Wiltshire and books into local accommodation, in the heart of the forest just off the The Devil’s Corridor, a cabin that sits with others and is reminiscent of a small Center Parks chalet. It even has a Quooker tap, so luxury is part of the package.

She starts her interview process, talking to police officers who are familiar with the events at the time, she manages to talk to Olivia, who had an agreement with Wesley that she should never talk to journalists. She ploughs on whilst trying to manage her home life at a distance – she is separated from the father of her young child. She has so many plates spinning and it can feel quite overwhelming. Factor in warnings that pop up in written form and followed by an attack on her personally and she knows that she is onto something. She struggles with whom she can trust – it seems everyone is economical with the truth, if not downright dishonest..

There are also some chapters devoted to activity in Thailand, written in italics to differentiate from the main body of the text. Of course the two stories will dovetail eventually.

There is a gossamer layer of convincing spookiness over the whole story. In this part of Wiltshire, there are standing stones, visions and sightings that disappear into the ether. After all, the road isn’t called The Devil’s Corridor for nothing.

This is a well told story that picks up pace in the latter third, sometimes at a hurry that doesn’t balance with the earlier, slower chapters, but the story unfolds to its conclusion, with a few twists and turns along the way.

The novel needs a bit more editing/proof reading, for example,1.20 in the middle of the night is not 1.20 pm, it should be 1.20am. The cover is a stock photo image, a bit of a lazy choice it would seem, and although it captures the spooky nature of the dense wood, it certainly does not shout modern cabin à la Center Parcs model, which is how Jenna describes her lodging in the middle of the forest.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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