YOU DON’T FIND HIM… HE FINDS YOU.
A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.
1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.
2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.
2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.
Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.
He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…
The final of the five books from the Headline New Voices 2018 event in Manchester is The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke. With thanks to Headline for my copy.
When chatting with Phoebe at the Headline event I asked her where the idea for her book had come from, she said some newspaper articles had initially peaked her interest and sown a seed from which the beginnings of The Tall Man had emerged. One example of such an article: Slender Man Case from The Guardian, 7th Dec 2017, shows how Phoebe has taken the idea of that possibility of obsession, that belief in such a sinister being, of needing to appease it with horrendous actions and clearly put her own interpretation on it.
In 1990 we follow four young girls Sadie, Helen, Marie and Justine who become obsessed with the so-called urban myth of The Tall Man. They believe he can make them special but what if they don’t please him? What then? A decade later Sadie, only weeks after giving birth, walks out on Miles leaving him to raise their daughter by himself. She disappears, believing she is protecting her daughter. Is it really from The Tall Man? Does she still believe that?
In 2018 Amber is being filmed she has become infamous – a confessed killer set free, was she too in the thrall of The Tall Man? If so, is she still? Frederica wants to find out, she wants to examine and expose the very darkest corners of what actually happened and make yet another award-winning film documentary.
Phoebe Locke has taken this idea of being under the power of such a figure, whether it is an actual being and how such an obsession can overtake you and written a gripping tale that keeps your mind revising what you might think as you read more of the storyline. It has been written in such a way as to keep you wondering not only about the existence of such figures but at what happened with the four young girls, what happened to Sadie and what happened with Amber. It is only in the last part of the book that everything starts to be revealed.
Using the making of a documentary film enables you to watch the story unfold almost as if you are a part of the crew and yet glad that you are not. Greta’s character does a good job in showing the moral issues that arise when making such a film and yet shows how another kind of obsession makes you carry on despite your concerns because in the end she too wants more.
I can’t say that many, if any, of the characters in this book are likeable but in this instance it doesn’t seem to matter. You may find your thoughts about one character change as you read more of the book. Having said that you are so invested in the story that you want to know what happened. There are a lot of tense moments in the book and the threads of each era are brought together well in the final chapters to bring a breath-taking ending.
Some of the story, by it’s very nature, is appalling. It is sad and, ultimately, shocking and yet it’s not graphic. It is a story of how events from the past can impact the actions of the future because of what and how those events affected the people concerned.
This is a mind-bending story that will keep you engrossed to the end.
Publisher: Wildfire (14 Jun. 2018)
Hardcover: 368 pages
Author: @PHOEBE_LOCKE #THETALLMAN
Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. She lives and writes in London.
THE TALL MAN is Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller and will be published in summer 2018.
Phoebe Locke – Front row centre
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