cover image The Twyford Code

The Twyford Code

Janice Hallett. Atria, $27 (326p) ISBN 978-1-6680-0322-0

Framed as transcripts of 200 audio files recorded on an iPhone, this ingenious novel from British author Hallett (The Appeal) consists of recovered memories (perhaps false) told in the voice (perhaps unreliable) of Steven “Smithy” Smith, a recently released, now missing ex-con. Forty years earlier, Smithy came across a book by WWII-era children’s author Edith Twyford filled with handwritten notes. He showed the book to his remedial English teacher, Miss Alice Isles, who believed the notations were some sort of code. Indeed, Twyford may have hidden treasonous secrets in her books. Miss Isles (often transcribed as Missiles) subsequently disappeared on a school field trip to Bournemouth. Smithy tracks down a handful of other classmates to retrieve their “vanished youth” and solve more than one “explosive secret” from the past. Rumors of the audacious Operation Fish meant to move British gold bullion across the Atlantic during WWII blend with an account of one of Smithy’s most daunting heists and converge on a mind-boggling resolution that contains several bombshell revelations. Filled with numerous clues, acrostics, and red herrings, this thrilling scavenger hunt for the truth is delightfully deceptive and thoroughly immersive. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Hoffmann & Assoc. (Jan.)