The Twyford Code

S. & S. Audio Jan. 2023. 11:29 hrs. ISBN 9781797149745. $23.99. M
Listeners who loved the twisty mystery and unique structure of Hallett’s best-selling debut, The Appeal, are in for another treat with her second work. Upon release from prison, Steven “Smithy” Smith is encouraged by Maxine, his parole officer, to look into a childhood mystery that haunts him, in order to provide closure and give him something productive (aka, not illegal) to do outside of work. As he only learned to read and write in prison, Smithy decides, for efficiency’s sake, to chronicle his research as audio recordings to Maxine on his hand-me-down iPhone, and transcripts of these 200 audio files serve as the framing device for the novel’s rollicking adventure. Narrator Thomas Judd’s performance of the transcripts, complete with glitches, is an utter delight, as is the Cockney rhyming slang peppered throughout. Judd convincingly delivers Smithy’s sometimes melancholy, sometimes hilarious musings on a life mostly misspent, as well as his madcap investigations into his teacher’s disappearance and possible connection to a stash of gold.
VERDICT Puzzle fans will undoubtedly enjoy Hallett’s bighearted thriller. While listeners’ opportunity to solve the code is somewhat lost in the audio version, Judd’s exhilarating performance more than makes up for it.
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