Review published on April 21, 2017.
The Escape is the latest psychological thriller from C.L. Taylor, and once again she delivers a disturbing and tense thriller of the highest quality. From beginning to the end, Taylor has the reader feeling the same claustrophobic fears as the victim; her grip is stronger than a vice and she takes you on a massive rollercoaster of a ride before delivering a final knockout.
When Jo Blackmore is approached on the street by a stranger asking for a lift, she opens the car door but she soon wishes she hadn’t. The stranger, Paula, want Jo to pass a message on to her husband to return what he had stolen, and she leaves her with a warning about her daughter Elise. Jo panics and is confused when she arrives at her daughter’s nursery and seems to be in the first stage of a breakdown.
Max Blakemore, Jo’s husband, is a crime reporter in Bristol and he loves both Jo and Elise deeply, even though at times Jo can be very testing. But Jo has had a rough time, her mental health is not the best, and she is very nervy. He also is recently back at his desk after a time away investigating a dangerous thug who also happened to be a loan shark.
When Jo tells him about Paula, Max denies knowing anything about her or whatever she wants, as he would never put his family in danger of the criminals he investigates. What had begun as threats turned in to a nightmare situation for Jo; she does not know what or who to believe. Slowly, a nightmare begins that Jo does not see a way out of, especially when the police and social services become involved, even turning her husband against her.
With nowhere to go, she takes matters in to her own hands and heads for Ireland. She may have been born in Ireland, but she left in the dead of night with her mother when she was eight years old, and she can remember very little about her family in Ireland, as they were not spoken of at home.
As her mental health begins to fail, or so it seems, she knows that she needs to fight to protect her daughter, but from who she does not know. She is lost and confused and does not know who to trust as the world starts to close in on her. Will anyone believe she is an innocent victim? Will anyone believe she has only ever had the safety of her daughter as a priority? Will Ireland condemn her or be her saviour?
Jo is a conflicting character who at times makes you want to scream at her, but at the same time she displays how a carer feels about one of their charges if they have mental health problems. So, while you love her on one hand, admire her on another, her problems can make her erratic and problematic; Taylor really has got to grips with the character of someone with mental health problems.
The Escape proves why C.L. Taylor is the best thing to come out of Bristol since the Clifton Suspension Bridge! She is Bristol’s very own psycho queen.
Paul Diggett 5/5
The Escape by C.L. Taylor
Avon 9780008118075 pbk Mar 2017