In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland.
Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.
Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.
The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows.
Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?
That afternoon, I could have been any other tourist. A watery sun left the air only lukewarm, but the colours of the houses arced around Tobermory Bay were candy-store bright. Oranges, reds, yellows, blues reflected in rippling water. A chocolate shop, a soap company, guest houses and cafés, art galleries and pottery sellers – it had everything you could possibly want if you were passing through. Mull’s long-term inhabitants shopped elsewhere. There was a food store on the harbour as well as a post office and a bank. Life here was simple. Tourists came and went; the island needed them to leave some of their money behind. My hometown operated on the same principles. Everyone knew everyone. Each argument, every romance, new grandchild, divorce – it was the town’s dirty laundry; none of it seemed to belong to the individual any more. I’d spent almost an hour poking into the corners of Tackle & Trade. It catered for an intriguing mix of interests. Shiny things for fishermen; authors I’d never heard of and a few I had; midge machines; art supplies. It was like a sudden influx of Christmases. I’d exited with a compass, it being a tradition of mine to buy one in every country I visited: a superstition I had, to make sure I could always find my way home. I also left with a book to use as a prop, called Letters to my Sixteen-Year-Old Self. Seemed appropriate given that Adriana would never grow old enough to be able to look back sagely.
My cell rang as I exited. Caller ID announced my sister. ‘Hey there, Becca,’ I said, smiling. ‘How hard’s my niece-to-be kicking you these days?’ ‘Hey yourself. You haven’t called Mom since you arrived in Scotland. She’s thinks you’ve been kidnapped. And your niece is refusing to exit my womb until you’re back here to come to the hospital with me. When’s that likely to be?’ I sighed, picturing my baby sister’s bulging abdomen and envisaging the military-style birth instructions already pinned to her fridge. I was to be her birthing partner, as her former fiancé had decided that becoming a parent didn’t fit in with his influencer lifestyle. For the record, I’d asked Becca if I was allowed to locate him and perform certain improvements to him that would prevent him from ever impregnating another woman, but she’d refused her consent. At some point in the future, I was planning on doing it anyway. Our mom was acting in a supportive role from home, where she was looking after our dad who was battling dementia. None of that was going to stop my sister from having a natural birth: no pain killers; no unnecessary surgical intervention; no balloons or cuddly toys. ‘I’m sorry, Becca. I have no idea how long this will take. It’s a month until baby girl’s turning up though, right? That’s plenty of time. And I’ll phone Mom tonight – promise.’ ‘Promise, promise?’ I stopped, not liking the quietness of her voice. My sister was an all-guns-blazing kind of woman. Low volume wasn’t her thing. ‘I just wish you weren’t so far away,’ she said. ‘Even my bump feels a bit sadder without you.’
It’s nice to be missed,’ I said. ‘Listen, it’ll fly by. You’ve got plenty of friends there to pamper you. All that nesting to do? Organic baby food to make and freeze?’ I made a retching sound and she laughed. ‘Okay, okay, we’ll be fine. Just keep in touch. It’s not too bad a case this time is it, Sadie? I don’t want you getting lost in something terrible just before the birth.’ I faked a smiling voice and prepared to lie. Not a new sensation when it came to my family. The details of my worst cases were better off glossed over. ‘It’s nothing bad at all. I have some leads already; hoping for a successful wrap-up really soon. Piece of cake. Now go put your feet up, eat chocolate and read that bump a story from her Auntie Sadie.’ Small brass compass in my pocket, book in hand, I strolled towards a pub called The Blether that my hotel receptionist had told me was the place all the locals gathered in the evenings. It was also where Adriana had spent her summer evenings earning £6.50 per hour washing plates and glasses. It was as good a place as any to gauge the toll the murder was taking on the community and get a sense of what the islanders’ theories were. The Blether sat one road back from the world-famous photo op of Tobermory Bay, hidden from view until you passed right in front of it. Red fronted, with windows that had once been white and clean, you made a choice at the front door. Turn left into a seated restaurant area, or go right for standing room at the bar, mismatched tables and chairs, a dartboard and a pool table. I turned right into a sudden silence.
Tags: crime thriller
- Format: ebook, paperback, audiobook
- Size: 376 pages
- Publisher: Avon
- Publication Date: 01 September 2022
- Book Links:
An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister.
Every book in the Callanach series has claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. The last book in the series, ‘Perfect Kill’ was longlisted for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2020, and others have been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Scottish crime novel of the year.
Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and has released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. Her audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. In 2020 Perfect Remains was shortlisted for the Bronze Bat, Dutch debut crime novel of the year. Now translated into 16 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. Her historical thriller ‘These Lost & Broken Things’ came out in May 2020. Her first standalone thriller – The Shadow Man – from HarperColllins will be published on February 4, 2021.
She currently commutes between West Sussex, Scotland and California. She lives with her husband and three children.
- Website: https://www.helenfields.com
- Twitter: @Helen_Fields
- Facebook: @HelenFieldsAuthor
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