boat’s engine surges wildly. I struggle to my feet again, ankle deep in water now, but I slip in the mud and can’t get up. I scream out again, and there comes another surge of the engine, almost out of control, and then the boat appears from around the rock, making for the shore. Ron is standing on the rock, and he has got Silva to her feet somehow and is holding on to her. The boat’s engine stalls. Then it stops.

In the sudden silence, the light on the boat turns a giddy half circle as the tide catches the prow and spins the boat upriver. I watch it drift away from me, the light bobbing and fading. I glance back at the bare rock. A wave washes over it. Ron and Silva have gone. With the next wave, the rock will vanish under the tide.

Then the engine coughs and roars, and the boat makes a crazy turn into a heavy wave. The light beam sways across the river and onto the shore. I close my eyes. For several moments, everything is quiet but for the chug of the boat and the running river. Blood warms the water lapping between my legs. The boat engine stops. I can’t scream, and I can’t open my eyes. I do not believe I shall open them again. I hear the splash of slow, wading steps coming toward me. I hear my baby’s cry, and I hear Col’s voice, calling out my name in the dark.


I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Kate Miciak at Random House for her unfailing encouragement and brilliant editorship of this novel.

I thank also my two wonderful agents, Jean Naggar of the Jean Naggar Literary Agency in New York, and Maggie Phillips at Ed Victor Ltd. in London, for all their support, guidance, and skill.

Dr. Nina Biehal kindly gave permission to print extracts from her work (with co-authors Fiona Mitchell and Jim Wade) Lost from View: A Study of Missing Persons in the UK. Thank you.

While I worked on this novel I was a writer-in-residence at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland. My sincere thanks to the Achill Heinrich Boll Association for awarding me the residency, and to the hospitable Achill islanders who made my time there so much fun.

And most of all, I’m grateful to my lovely daughter Hannah who, whenever she’s around, makes me laugh and makes me lunch.


MORAG JOSS is the author of several novels, including the CWA Silver Dagger winner Half Broken Things, which was also adapted as a film for U.K. national television. In 2008 she was the recipient of a Heinrich Boll Fellowship, and in 2009 she was nominated for an Edgar Award for her sixth novel, The Night Following. She is currently at work on her eighth novel, Our Picnics in the Sun, to be published by Delacorte Press.

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