Three-year-old Harry Monroe is missing, snatched from his bed while his mother, Jess – heartbroken and crumbling, having recently been abandoned by her husband – lay sleepless upstairs. This, in a fraught, deliciously creepy opening chapter, introduces us to the small-town Americana of Tall Oaks: a place of sunny smiles and white picket fences straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but where if you scratch the surface there are terrible things to be found. And Chris Whitaker scratches, all right. All, as the saying goes, is not as it seems.
Let’s get it out of the way: Tall Oaks is an extraordinary debut. A novel a seasoned, ‘big name’ author would be proud to have produced. The writing is carefully-crafted and assured, with not a word wasted. It provides depth and life, light and shade, to the characters and the town itself, both of which are skilfully drawn by…
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