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Psychological thriller set in the SURREY HILLS, England

30th July 2021

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell, psychological thriller set in the Surrey Hills.

Psychological thriller set in the SURREY HILLS

Dark Place – a very fancy house, with a great deal of history (some of it indeed very dark) – is where the posh people have been living and then nearby there is Maypole House, a crammer for largely posh types who have flunked their school exams. And then there is a Further Education establishment where Tallulah meets Scarlett (of Dark Place). Tallulah is only 19, living with her mother and boyfriend Zach, together their baby son, and she is trying to tie down being a partner, a daughter, a mother and a student and she’s managing ok. That is back in 2016. One evening Tallulah and Zach go on a date night and never return.

Several months later Sophie, who happens to be an author (writing a series called The Little Hither Green Detective Agency) moves to Maypole House with her boyfriend who has taken up the headship there. She is out of her comfort zone, as London is her true home. She is now in a cottage on the edge of a rather foreboding wood and on the other side of all those trees is Dark Place.  She has to muster all her sleuthing skills (honed whilst writing her novels) when she finds a hand-written sign that pushes her into action.She discovers an item, which opens the way to looking into the unsolved mystery of the disappearance of Tallulah and Zach.

You can sense perhaps from my synopsis that there are a couple of time shifts and various strands to accommodate. The author, however, does a good job of tying everything together and laying out the storyline, so it feels cohesive and gripping. She focusses on wealth, entitlement and class divides and works all these themes into a compelling story.

This was yet another audiobook experience. The narrator, Joanne Froggatt, has a lot of voices to contend with and does a pretty good job of differentiating between class and male/female (although the matron of the school does start to drone on like a female Michael Gove). Sometimes the moneyed classes sound a bit more like a parody of themselves – frayed bleating with a rise at the end of each sentence – which can be a little grating but overall a good listen.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021