Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Vanishing of Class 3B, the latest thriller from Jackie Kabler. I was invited to read the book by publishers One More Chapter and, I have to admit, the premise sounded really intriguing. Here’s whats it’s all about:
About the Book
One spring morning, a bus full of children and their teachers from a Cotswolds primary school head off on a much-anticipated day trip.
But as night falls and the well-heeled parents – one or two of them famous, as well as wealthy – wait at the school to collect their weary offspring, it soon becomes clear that something has gone very wrong.
The children and their teachers simply do not come back.
What’s happened doesn’t seem possible.
How can an entire class of children simply vanish?
I really liked the the sound of The Vanishing of Class 3b and it really didn’t disappoint. I mean, it wasn’t just the idea of children disappearing, even if I’m not the greatest fan of rug rats of any age, but just that whole idea that you entrust your nearest and dearest to teachers every single day on the understanding nothing can, or will, go wrong, School trips are a staple of the educational experience and, with the odd exception due to bad traffic during the trip, nearly always end with a group of overly tired and yet overwhelmingly hyperactive little ones bouncing off the bus at the end of the day. So how, as a parent, would you react if your over tired, hyperactive, little darling just didn’t come home? And what if you thought that it was all your fault?
It really was a gripping read. The families in question are a mixed bunch, but it’s fair to say that Littleford has more than its fair share of the well to do – celebrity chef, TV personality, former footballer – any of whom could be a target for a ransom demand. But then the bus also has children whose parents just about make do. Who don’t have salaries in the hundreds of thousands. A ransom demand for the return of their children would be fruitless. So is the answer really that simple? Well, Jackie Kabler has played a very careful game. It takes time to really understand what this is all about, cryptic communications and furtive behaviour hiding the truth in plain sight. It really makes you think and with more than the occasional bout out strange behaviour and furtive looks amongst the families, you get the feeling that anything can happen.
I actually liked the way in which the author used the perspective of the children to inform the story. Point of view moves between the key characters, including the police, as we start to piece together the back story of all of the key players, but that extra angle adds a layer of mystery to the whole affair, muddying the waters somewhat. Young Luca, sone of TV personality Reynold Lyon, really is an astute young man and I loved the scenes from his point of view. It captured exactly the kind of thoughts I’d expect from someone of that age, the distracted nature of their attention, but also the curiosity and the way in which children often see and understand far more than you might credit them for.
There is a sense of anguish and fear that threads through the book, more so for the characters than readers as we see and learn far more of what is happening than the victims. The frustrations of the police as the parents fail to be completely honest and work against their best advice feel authentic, and the fact that several parents are identified as suspects in the whole affair is no surprise, even if some behaviour is more unexpected than others. There is such duplicity amongst the adults that I have to be honest, whilst I initially liked most, my feelings did change quite rapidly throughout the course of the book. As I said before – a very careful execution of the story by the author – canny and effective.
It really is an intriguing story, one where I wanted to understand what was really behind everything that happened. The ending … was it justice? Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly felt like just desserts. Fans of the author will love it.
About the Author
Jackie Kabler worked as a newspaper reporter and then in television news for twenty years, including nearly a decade on GMTV. She later appeared on BBC and ITV news, presented a property show for Sky, hosted sports shows on Setanta Sports News and worked as a media trainer for the Armed Forces. She is now a presenter on shopping channel QVC. Jackie lives in Gloucestershire with her husband.
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