Author – Phoebe Locke
Published – June 2018
Genre – Psychological suspense
This was one of a number of books I was lucky enough to get from a Headline ‘New Voices 2018’ event I attended in January.
The Tall Man is a book with multiple timelines and for once I had no issues with this). In 1990 a group of school friends tell each other stories about the Tall Man, the ‘bogeyman’ they are both afraid of and want to impress. In 2000 Sadie Banner believes her newborn daughter is cursed and leaves her and her husband without any explanation. In 2018 a film crew is in America making a documentary about a teenage girl who’s been on trial for murder. The Banner family and the events that took place around Amber’s sixteenth birthday have become notorious.
There are three very different women at the heart of the book and they are linked by the menace of the Tall Man. Sadie is the mother who abandons her daughter only return, a little like Snow White, when she believes the curse has lost its power. In 2018 Greta is left in the lurch by her boss and out of her depth as she leads the interviews and filming for the documentary in the US. And of course Amber, the centre of attention; what she did or didn’t do is left for the reader to try to figure out until the very end.
Greta’s role is important in driving the story forward – under pressure from her absent boss to get the scoop that will ‘make’ the documentary, she’s sympathetic to the teenager she’s trying to catch out. She provides the external point of view that balances the story.
Is the Tall Man just a playground monster or a presence lurking in the shadows? The story was cleverly written and kept me guessing. Every time I thought I’d figured it out there was another revelation and I had to have a rethink. It makes a change to read a book which has female characters that I don’t dislike. Amber was something of an enigma, Sadie who seems to be either weak or strong – depending on your point of view and Greta who is the most normal character.
Not quite the ghost story I though this would be but a very enjoyable read. Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy, one to look out for when it’s published in June.