Title: The Vault
Author: Huw Thomas
"The Vault" by Huw Thomas is a rather interesting mystery novel that I wasn't too sure about initially. The synopsis itself just didn't really grab me and if it wasn't for the fact that the author was giving away half the royalties to a charity known as ShelterBox I may not have even read it. However, I am glad that I did as I found it to be an engaging and thoughtful read that I struggled to put down at the end of each day.
The story follows several different plotlines that are seemingly unrelated but are actually all part of one complex web. The main core of the novel is based around a young boy called Adam who has turned the wood near his town into a personal retreat. However, when the local council estate kids decide to invade the woods in an attempt to hunt him down Adam is forced to try and hide and finds that there are some secrets hidden in the woods that he knew nothing about. I found that the other plotlines were weaved around this core and are as follows; a professional robbery of a luxurious mansion, a police investigation into three dead bodies found in an ornamental lake and the journey of a paroled sex offender who has gone on the run.
Whilst all these plots seem unrelated, the reader of course knows that there is something linking them and the attempt to identify these links helps turn the novel into a rather compelling mystery. As with many mysteries the book was told at a rather slow pace and I still find it amusing that I got so engrossed in things like the antics of children in a wood but the mystery surrounding the whole novel just kept me hooked.
Personally, I was quite proud of myself that I worked out all the links between the plotlines bar one and I actually think that one was more of a red herring plot than one fundamental to the overall mystery that was being told. However that might just be me being grumpy because I didn't see the way it linked in coming. Either way though, I found that the plots came together and concluded in a rather enjoyable and satisfying manner. The one comment I would make on the ending is that I think there could have been a better epilogue for Adam himself as it just felt a little bit rushed and I was really curious to know what he actually did next.
I found that the town of Compton Fosse came across as very realistic and as someone that grew up in a small English town I could easily imagine the council estate, the woods and the other children that were depicted in this novel. I will admit that the four separate plotlines meant it was quite hard to see any real depth to the characters and most of them just came across as being names. Luckily, Adam himself was developed enough to make him come across in an engaging manner and I was always hoping he would triumph in his actions.
Overall, I found that this was an enjoyable mystery novel that is being sold for a good cause and therefore am happy to recommend it. I will admit that it isn't action packed although there are the odd elements here and there but if you enjoy a good, thoughtful, slow burner of a novel then this one should fit the bill quite easily.