‘Tall Oaks’ is Chris Whitaker’s debut novel and it’s easy to see why it’s winning awards.
Tall Oaks is a small wealthy town where everyone seems to have a secret. There isn’t much serious crime until 3 year old Harry is abducted. Harry’s mother Jess is desperate to find Harry and to have her estranged husband Michael back.
The town policeman Jim helps Jess in every way he can, but isn’t making much progress on finding Harry and some of the help he gives Jess may not be very helpful.
Other characters in the story are Manny – a teenage boy who is still trying to prove himself to the father who left years ago. He does his best to look after his mother Elena and his young sister.
Elena has a new man in her life – Jared. But why does Jared keep running away from his life every time things start to go right?
Then there is Jerry. He is in his 30s and extremely obese, but has a surprisingly high voice. He still lives with his very nasty controlling mother. The local school boys bully him because of his weight and his voice and his boss at the photo shop treats him as a slave. He is a sensitive guy who just doesn’t know how to break away.
Jess’s aunt Henrietta and her husband Roger are probably living the biggest lie of all.
As the story unfolds, all of these characters and others play a part in Harry’s story. And as the story progresses, many of the secrets start to unravel, resulting in heartache, romance and humour.
This was an incredible debut novel. At times I was reminded a little of Linwood Barclay, but really Chris Whitaker has his own unique and very compelling style.
The story was very character driven and I was completely absorbed into the lives of many of the characters. My favourite characters were Jerry the gentle giant and Jared the lost boy. I was soooo angry with Jared’s father. For goodness sake, stop worrying about your status and be a parent. I’d like to give Jared a big hug.
I’m looking forward to Chris Whitaker’s next novel – ‘All The Wicked Girls’.