Author: C.J. Tudor
Performed by Richard Armitage
Released on Audible February 2019
Category: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological, Horror, Audiobook, Review
One night, Annie disappeared.
There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst.
And then, after 48 hours, she came back.
But she couldn’t – or wouldn’t – say what had happened to her.
Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what.
I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same.
She wasn’t my Annie.
I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.
Life hasn’t been particularly kind to Joe Thorne. He was a loner as a youth, content to spend time with his young sister, until he became involved in the local gang lead by a cruel bully, Stephen Hurst, which was really when things began to go wrong for Joe. A schoolfriend’s tragic death, his sister’s disappearance and then the traffic accident that left him with a shattered leg, and that wasn’t the worst of it.
Debts resulting from a gambling addition plus an anonymous email relating to Joe’s sister, prompt him to reluctantly return to Arnhill in Nottinghamshire, the ex mining village where he grew up. It’s a drab, uninviting place with an underlying darkly sinister feel, as if previous, and more recent, events have redefined and shaped the place, along with the inhabitants. Joe left his last teaching post under a cloud of suspicion, but applies for and is taken on as English teacher at Arnhill Academy, a position available following the horrific deaths of the previous teacher and her son.
“So, your letter of recommendation from your previous head is glowing.’
It should be. I wrote it myself.
‘In fact, everything here looks very impressive,’
Bullshit is one of my specialities.
Joe’s return is not welcomed, aggravated by the fact he’s renting the cottage where a murder/suicide occurred (I definitely couldn’t have stayed there after the bathroom incident) It’s not long before Joe falls foul of the local thugs. Stephen Hurst has become the big fish in a small pond, powerful, wealthy and married to Joe’s first love. He wants Joe gone. Added to that, Joe’s creditors know where he is and they have every intention of getting the money owed by whatever means necessary.
The story is told from Joe’s perspective with flashbacks to his earlier life in the village. The more the story unfolds, the more unsettling it becomes as we learn of Joe’s life then and now. Arnhill is hiding some deep, dark secrets that seem to have started after a mining disaster in the 1940s that killed the men working in the pit. The place holds very bad personal memories for Joe but he’s back and hopes he’s prepared to deal with past issues.
This is a story with so many layers, and with almost no likeable characters, apart from Joe, the anti hero and not quite reliable narrator, and fellow teacher Beth Scattergood. The Taking of Annie Thorne can’t be pinned down to a single genre. It’s part horror, part psychological thriller and also a mystery with a dark, supernatural vibe. There are some quite gruesome scenes. CJ Tudor keeps up the level of pace and edginess right up to the final piece falling onto place. I like her writing, the unpredictability of the story lines and the excellent characterisations.
Richard Armitage’s narration was, as always, excellent and added to the atmosphere and creepiness of the story.
About the Author
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.’