The Clearing: A Novel (Laughton Rees #2)
In this gripping suspense novel from the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy, lead forensic expert Laughton Rees is back, this time investigating a series of missing women in a small town near the Forest of Dean—where she uncovers a dark and sinister plot, decades in the making.
Adele Friar knows better than most that something dangerous lurks in the forest. So when her sister Maddie goes missing, she fears that the woods may hold the answers. After all, Maddie isn’t the only one who has disappeared recently.
Locals put the unusually high number of missing persons in the area down to inexperienced hikers getting lost in the forest’s depths, or girls abandoning their sleepy rural town for the excitement of city life. Some even blame the Cinderman, a legend who haunts the woods looking for unsuspecting victims.
Forensic specialist Laughton Rees doesn’t believe in legends, she believes in facts. With help from Adele and DCI Tannahill Khan back in London, she is determined to find Maddie and dispel the dangerous ghost stories once and for all.
But something strange is going on in the forest—the police seem reluctant to investigate the disappearances, and the locals aren’t talking. What if the monster in the woods isn’t a myth after all, and a cold-blooded killer is stalking his victims from the shadowy safety of the trees?
As Laughton and Adele question everyone, from the gruff leader of an off-grid commune to the mysterious Earl who presides over the crumbling abbey in the heart of the forest, they slowly begin to unravel the legend of the Cinderman—and discover the truth is far uglier, and far more dangerous, than any mythical monster.
Praise for The Clearing: A Novel (Laughton Rees #2)
"A stunning novel! Part wily procedural, part relentless psychological thriller, Dark Objects will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. And what a masterful voice, Toyne brings to his fiction." — Jeffery Deaver
“A fun, crafty thriller.... I love how [Toyne] interwove a clever serial killer plot with a taut family drama. Definitely a one-sit read!” — Lisa Gardner on Dark Objects
"There are times when I read another author’s novel and it’s so darn good I just want to put down my own pen and retire because I can’t match it. This is that book. I was riveted, flummoxed, and completely captivated by these fascinating characters." — Tess Gerritsen on Dark Objects
“This race-against-the-clock thriller… is wonderfully plotted with strong characters, but what stands out most is the way the police ignore Adele’s pleas because she and her sister (who has a history of drug possession) are among the easy-to-dismiss poor and unconnected. A well-crafted shocker.” — Booklist (starred review) on The Clearing
"Toyne’s second mystery featuring criminologist Laughton Rees (after 2022’s Dark Objects) further establishes the character as an effective series lead in the spirit of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta....Toyne makes the most of her creepy setting, and effectively conceals the truth behind the legend of the Cinderman until she’s ready to reveal it. Everything here suggests that Rees merits a long series run." — Publishers Weekly on The Clearing
“Gripping . . . . demonstrates the damage caused by a real-life monster, one that is much worse than any legend.” — Novels Alive on The Clearing
"[An] excellent police procedural.... Tannahill and Laughton make a superb investigative team…. A skilled storyteller, Toyne has upped his game with this one." — Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Dark Objects
“An edgy psychological thriller that makes excellent use of its police procedural foundation....Toyne pulls out all the stops for a deliciously creepy, believable story that makes sharp turns with realistic characters.... Toyne’s plotting—and delving deep into the psychological aspects—make Dark Objects shine.” — Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Simon Toyne...really has outdone himself with Dark Objects. It’s intelligent, insanely paced and brimming with fresh ideas – I doubt I’ll read a better book this year." — M. W. Craven
“Simon Toyne is one of my favorites, bringing a lean muscularity and textured richness to his thrillers. He has an eye for the unusual and the unsettling, shading his stories with moral complexity while never letting his foot off the pedal. In Solomon Creed, he’s created a hero for the ages. A word of warning: if you have anything else to get done, don’t crack open a Toyne thriller.” — Gregg Hurwitz on The Boy Who Saw
“When you read Sanctus, you’ll see just how frightening, ruthless and relentlessly entertaining an order of monks can be. Haunting in the best way.” — Brad Meltzer
"Top-shelf writers aren’t made—they’re born, and you can tell in two pages when you’ve found one. Simon Toyne has got the gift, and The Searcher proves it—his imagery, his language, and the cool mystery surrounding Solomon Creed and where he’s going. I think you’ll love this one.” — Greg Iles
“Brains beat brawn in this engrossing yarn, and a mind without a memory makes Toyne’s hero a hard character to—well, to forget.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Boy Who Saw
"How do you create suspense?... That’s the defining strategy of The Searcher, as Simon Toyne holds information tantalizingly out of reach over the course of his wild, mysterious novel… Toyne grabs our attention, and he keeps it… The book moves so swiftly in part because it’s told roughly in the span of a day…the stakes escalating while mysteries pile on top of mysteries… I read it in a two-day fever.” — New York Times Book Review
“Not a dull page to be found anywhere. A thriller gem. Simon Toyne is a first class talent, speeding in the fast lane to the top of the genre.” — Steve Berry on The Searcher