The Escape by CL Taylor fairly gallops along without time to take a deep breath. It is a tale of escape, pursuit, lies, vulnerability, long-hidden secrets and selfishness. At times I didn’t know which character to believe and I didn’t particularly like any of them. I wanted to sit them down at the kitchen table with a mug of tea and a plate of biscuits, and bang their heads together. There appear to be so many lies it is difficult to sift out the truth, which became a little frustrating after a while. In the end, there are many types of escape.
Jo and Max have a toddler daughter Elise. Max, an investigative journalist, has just completed a long-running story which resulted in a conviction, and he is jubilant. Jo, who became agoraphobic after the loss of their first child Henry, lives from day to day, her small world surrounding Elise. Jo feels Max is less sympathetic to her condition than he used to be. Max tries to be patient but is finding it increasingly difficult. Into this fragile world steps Paula, a stranger, who threatens Jo and Elise. The first crack appears as Max doubts Jo’s judgement of the threat. Is she panicking again, exaggerating it, imagining it?
Faced with danger to her child, Jo runs. That is the escape of the title. The agoraphobia which made it a trial to take her daughter to nursery every day fades as, driven by her maternal defence mechanism, she packs Elise into her car and flees to Ireland. Ireland, we know vaguely, is where her mother came from years ago but of which she will not speak. More mystery. As she runs, Jo appears more unbalanced, sees threats on all sides and is forever planning escape routes. But where is the danger actually coming from? Is she seeing clearly, could it be that some of the lies which frighten her are actually the truth? And vice-versa. Is she a reliable witness? The need for flight seems to over-ride all historic connections of love and trust, she runs from the people who try to help her. So, is she misguided, confused? Or correct? And in escaping with Elise, in all good intentions to protect her daughter, is she putting her two-year-old daughter in further danger of her life?
This is a psychological thriller which asks some difficult questions. About how we react to stress, how our judgement of others can be influenced, and when to trust your own deep-seated instincts.
‘The Escape’ by CL Taylor [UK: Avon] Buy now
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