Review Blog

Jul 20 2020

A knock at the door by Tom Wood (writing as T. W. Ellis)

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Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780751575934.
(Age: Senior secondary/adult) Highly recommended. When two government agents knock at Jem Talhoffer's door her life is turned upside down. They ask for her husband Leo and suggest he is involved in organised crime. She cannot believe that her handsome perfect partner would have anything to do with such things. While the agents are questioning and searching she receives a call from an Agent Carlson, which casts doubt on the identity of the Feds. She is urged to leave her home and make a run for it.
Jem and Leo have moved from the city for the peace and calm of small town America. They have found the perfect house isolated from its neighbours but not too far from the town's amenities. Jem takes yoga classes, but tends to keep to herself while Leo a wine merchant takes care of business and often travels overseas.
Jem takes off through the woods, but hasn't thought through her escape. She is bare footed and has bought nothing with her. She makes it to the road, feet cut, scratched, bruised and flags down an old man in a pickup truck. It seems as if luck has changed, Trevor the driver, is straight as the day is long. He is one of the many in the USA that has no trust in the government or people in suits, he has no phone and is self reliant.
They head into town where Jem decides she will confide in the local police chief, Rusty, an eminently sensible and trustworthy woman. However when she arrives she is dismayed to find the two agents are already at the police building. She makes a move to leave when a car pulls up with Agent Carlson at the wheel; he urges her to get in and he assures her she will be safe. But Jem doesn't know who to trust and heads for the police building. She ends up being driven back to her home by the two agents, but things then really take a turn for the worse.
Tom Woods is writing here as T. W. Ellis, and has the narrative delivered by Jem and Rusty (the police chief). The reader is naturally sympathetic with Jem's story and the dilemma in which she finds herself. The question is always: what would you do if you found yourself in the same situation? The narrative provided by Rusty is very different. The reader is allowed into her life, a strange mixture of the very private and the very public, but there is a feeling of dependability and trust.
There are many twists in the plot and you are left feeling very much like Jem. Who do you believe, who can you trust. There are also moments of shock when the most unforeseen actions take place. Whilst not always quite believable Ellis provides a roller coaster ride, that has perceptions overturned and personalities questioned. A thoroughly recommended read.
Themes. USA, Crime, Thriller, Conspiracy.
Mark Knight

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