The Other People
C.J. Tudor
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Buy *The Other People* by C.J. Tudor online

The Other People
C.J. Tudor
Ballantine Books
336 pages
January 2020
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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This thriller begins with a jolt, a father shocked to recognize his young daughter's frightened face in the back window of the car ahead of him. But it can't be Izzy! She is safe at home with her mother, waiting for her father to come home and read his five-year-old a bedtime story. Unfortunately, Gabe Forman fails to catch the car where Izzy is trapped. Nor are the police are able to discover who murdered his wife and stole his child. Trapped in a cycle of guilt and grief, Gabe endlessly drives the road where he last saw Izzy, unable to stop his compulsive search. Obsessed, he can focus on nothing else.

Stopping for gas and a cup of coffee, Gabe often sees the face of a woman who seems vaguely familiar. He gives the woman little thought, anxious to get back on the road; he never learns the woman's story. He would be shocked to know how similar--yet different--their worries are. Fran is driving too, miles and miles each day with her daughter, Emily. Only Fran is driving away from, not toward, in fear of being caught by her pursuer. Like Gabe, Fran's journey seems futile; like Gabe she cannot stop, he searching, she running.

The Other People is an enigmatic, often disturbing tale, full of shadows and unanswered questions, unsettling and vaguely terrifying, a dark pull toward a reckoning that cannot be undone. Every chapter adds another layer of confusion and comprehension, perhaps the hint of an otherworldly explanation. Tudor seems to have a talent for the bizarre, drawing a reader deeply into a creepy terrain where danger lurks at all turns.

Though this reader must confess to a reluctance to continue this uncomfortable journey, the thriller is impossible to put aside. Like the unfortunate Gabe, I want to unravel the mystery at the end of the road, where tragedy leaves grieving and angry people unable to cope. In unbearable pain, some learn about The Other People, a group that offers relief. The Other People extend a helping hand to the desperate. Not a perfect solution, but a way to move on.

Once in thrall to this emotional, moody morass, there is nothing to do but follow the highway to a final destination, a place where answers may finally be found. Like Dorothy pulling the curtain aside to reveal the Wizard, sufferers are grateful for that knowledge, even if it includes a bitter burden. Resolution may be possible for Gabe, who can't forget his daughter's pleading face ("Daddy!"). There is a way to move on, albeit at a terrible price, that Gabe cannot resist. This is the stuff of nightmares.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2020

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