Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.
The Other People is told from three main perspectives—Gabe, Fran and Katie. Three people with their own distinct stories that will become inextricably and insidiously linked along the way, although I could never have guessed how. And then there’s the sleeping girl in a white room…
On his way home one day, stuck in traffic on the M1, Gabe sees a young girl in the back window of the car in front. She was the image of his daughter. The little girl mouthed the word ‘Daddy.’ Gabe didn’t know what to think. As the traffic began to move he gave chase but lost the car. He had to be mistaken. His daughter would be at home with his wife. Wouldn’t she? But the girl had called him daddy.
Katie is a hard working single parent waitressing during the night shift at a motorway service station and knows Gabe only as ‘the thin man’. Someone who frequents the cafés as he travels up and down the motorway looking for his lost daughter, unwilling or unable to stop searching. He is a broken man. Everything has gone—his home, job and a normal life. All he has now is his mission and the old camper van he lives in. He does have one acquaintance—the Samaritan. Gabe knows nothing about him but is grateful for any help, even when he receives a text he’d been waiting for…and dreading.
Katie hoped it wasn’t true. She hoped that the thin man could eventually find some peace. Not just for his sake. Something about him, his quiet desperation, scraped at a raw nerve. Most of all she hoped that one day, she would come into work, he would be gone, and she’d never have to think about him again.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, are on the run from people who mean them harm, moving from place to place but never settling. Fran knows something and certain people want to silence her for good.
The Other People is a steadily building, emotional, complex and intriguing story with more layers than a vanilla slice. Secrets and their repercussions are woven through the narrative, not to mention the effects of the all consuming need to keep searching that is slowly but surely destroying Gabe, physically and mentally. His despair and torment is intense and highlighted by some very insightful observations on the impact grief can have on a person’s psyche.
This was a story that, although it did seem slightly drawn out in places, I had to follow through. It’s an attention grabber—a dark tale with a supernatural thread, made creepier with the inclusion of the dark web storyline and how it relates to the unfolding plot. Past timelines reveal tantalizing snippets during the story. And then, of course, there are The Other People…
The fact that Richard Armitage was narrating was the reason I chose to listen rather than read.
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover. In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest. While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl. She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’