Books About Books, Makes You Think, Mystery

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett


Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy became convinced that she had been right.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. In a series of voice recordings on an old iPhone from his estranged son, Smithy alternates between visiting the people of his childhood and looking back on the events that later landed him in prison. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy may just have the key.

“A modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London), Janice Hallett has constructed a fiendishly clever, maddeningly original crime novel for lovers of word games, puzzles, and stories of redemption.

My Thoughts

I’ve been searching for a book that really captures and holds my attention and makes me think about the story and the clues.

The Twyford Code is it.

The firts part of the story is told in the unusual format of transcribed recorded messages which require the reader to pay attention in order to keep to the plot. I did find this a bit difficult to follow at times and thought there could be some editing done, but it all works out in the end.

I can often predict the twist in mysteries, but this one had me completely unsuspecting the action in the last part of the story, which is AMAZING!

This book makes you work – I found myself going back and re-reading passages several times to keep everything straight, and spent a lot of time re-reading parts after I got to the end.

Puzzle aficionados will adore this and I can see book clubs chewing on this one. Very well-done.

The mysterious connection between a teacher’s disappearance and an unsolved code in a children’s book is explored in this fresh novel from the author of the “clever and often wryly funny” novel The Appeal. (PopSugar)

Publication Date: January 24, 2023
Published By: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy