Ben hears noises in his basement and witnesses weird goings-on in his local park. His eight-year-old daughter Imogen starts receiving messages from someone claiming to be her missing mother. And then there is Mr Jones —the man who haunts the imaginations of the children at Imogen’s school. But they are just stories, surely? Ben soon develops a creeping suspicion that someone is out to kidnap his daughter. Are his fears real or a result of his own stress-induced paranoia?

Alex Woolf’s psychological thriller explores loss, fear and an overwhelming desire to keep those we love safe from harm.

My Review

I desperately wanted to give this five stars for the wonderful writing, the creepiness, the originality etc. Unfortunately the ending was not what I expected or needed and it left me finding my own metaphorical interpretation, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked for me.

The blurb says ‘Alex Woolf’s psychological thriller explores loss, fear and an overwhelming desire to keep those we love safe from harm.‘ In a lot of ways I didn’t need the plot being explained to me or turned into something physical or even metaphysical – I was happy for my imagination to take me there.

As readers I think we need everything tied up at the end in its own little box, but I think Mr Jones goes beyond that. You hear people say – this is so good, all the loose ends were tied up very neatly thanks, but in this case I didn’t want them tied up. I didn’t want an explanation for everything (albeit natural or supernatural). I rather like Shakespeare’s ‘he descended into madness’ for absolutely no apparent reason (you’ll need to read the book for that to make sense). I don’t need to know that the fairies at the bottom of the garden are actually aliens (God help us) – note there are no aliens here (thank goodness) or fairies.

Ben’s wife has disappeared and he appears to find it easier to believe that she was murdered (or at least died) than accept that she walked out on him and his eight-year-old daughter Imogen. Right at the end Ben muses that ‘…maybe she just didn’t love Imogen that much. There is no iron law of the universe, ‘he says’ ‘that a mother has to love her child.’

In the meantime, a totally separate character called Roy is writing a book based on a horrific event that occurred in 2003. But are they in some way connected? And who is Amy and why is she so keen for her son Alex to be Imogen’s best friend?

The bizarre plot and Ben’s memory lapses are very confusing but in a way that makes you want to read more – if I wasn’t reading in ‘staves’ with the Pigeonhole bookclub I’d have devoured the whole lot in a day.

To hell with it. I’m going to give it five stars anyway.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Alex Woolf was born in London in 1964. He has worked as a writer and editor for over 20 years and has published over 40 works of fiction and non-fiction, mainly for young adults. His fiction includes the Chronosphere series, a science-fiction trilogy published by Scribo, and Soul Shadows, an interactive e-novel published by Fiction Express, and shortly to be published in print by Capstone. His short fiction has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. He lives in Southgate, North London, with his wife and two children.

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