Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

First Lines: 19 November 2021. Dear Professor Mansfield, I am investigating a mysterious case and suspect you may be able to help. Let me explain.
Out of prison after serving a long sentence, Steven "Smithy" Smith decides to devote his time to trying to solve a mystery that has bothered him for decades. Forty years ago, he found a copy of a famous children's book on a bus. The book, by disgraced author Edith Twyford, had margins filled with strange marks and annotations. When he gave the book to his remedial English teacher, Miss Iles, she thought it was part of a secret code that ran through Twyford's novels. When Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy was convinced that she was right. Now it's time to crack the code and find out what happened to his teacher all those years ago.
Smithy uses an old iPhone given to him by his estranged son to leave voice recordings of each step of his investigation. While he tracks down childhood friends, he also muses about the events in his life that led to his incarceration. It soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn't just the author of a forgotten series of children's books-- the Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy could very well be the key.
Puzzle lovers will have a field day with The Twyford Code, although I can see some readers being put off by the format. Steven "Smithy" Smith records each step of his investigation into the long-ago disappearance of his teacher in a series of recordings on an old iPhone, and at the beginning, readers are told that the software used to transcribe the recordings can sometimes make mistakes. As a result, "Miss Iles" becomes "missiles". "Gonna" becomes "gun a" and so on. It can take a bit of getting used to, but this format actually made Smithy's voice more distinctive in my mind as I read.

Aided by Lucy the librarian, Smithy finds himself on a trek down Memory Lane as he tries to find out just what the Twyford Code leads to and what happened to his teacher, Miss Iles. But the further into his investigation we get, red flags begin to go up. Why are old classmates being so evasive? What kind of treasure could the Twyford Code possibly lead to? And just how forthcoming is Smithy being in telling us about his investigation? Could something else be going on?

I really enjoyed the unfolding of all the puzzles and Smithy's character in particular. My deductive skills really got a workout, but by book's end, the resolutions were coming so thick and fast, it was almost overload-- like eating a favorite flavor of ice cream much too fast and then getting brain freeze.

If you love pitting your detective skills against a skilled puzzle master then you must read Janice Hallett's The Twyford Code. No doubt about it, I'll be looking for the other books she's written.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
eISBN: 9781668003244
Atria Books © 2023
eBook, 333 pages
Thriller, Standalone
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


  1. This sounds like a really interesting way to tell a story, Cathy. And very often, 'puzzle mysteries' like this one can be too focused on the mystery, and not as much on character. I'm glad Smithy's character is clear.

    1. You pinpointed the major thing that made this book enjoyable: it's a good blend of plot and characterization.

  2. I read this author's The Appeal last year and liked it mostly. I'm looking forward to this one and plan to read it soon. Janice Hallett seems to like unique ways to tell stories. And I'm all for that.

  3. I love the sound of this one...all those puzzles! :D


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