Ruth and Simon reluctantly agree to let their teenage daughter, Heather, go on a camping holiday in Cornwall with her best friend, Kelly, and her family. Then they get the news that both girls have gone missing. Kelly is found alive, but Heather's body is eventually found in an old mine, her death ruled an accident. The tragedy ends Ruth and Simon's marriage. Ruth remarries and has another daughter, but when Beatrice reaches Heather's age, she too disappears ...
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John Harvey is the author of the richly praised Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, Lonely Hearts was named by The Times as one of the “100 Best Crime Novels of the Century.”
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Ruth sets down her cup, crosses the room and opens the drawer. The kitchen floor strikes cold, even through her slippered feet. February. At seven this morning, when she first stepped outside, it had still been dark.
The envelope is where she left it, buried beneath receipts for old electricity bills, scribbled notes from the woman who comes Tuesdays and Thursdays to clean and which she has never yet discarded, recipes torn from this or that magazine: an off-white envelope, self-sealing, buckling a little at the corners. Inside is an ordinary postcard showing a map of south-west Cornwall coloured largely green; on the reverse side her name, hers and her ex-husband's, Simon's, are written above the address in a careful, painstaking hand. Mr and Mrs Pierce. The old address in London, NW5. The message alongside slanting slightly, left to right.
Dear Mum & Dad,
Went to the beach again today. Big waves!
Kelly and I are going to surf school tomorrow.
Hope you're both okay. See you soon.
Lots of Love, Heather
Even though she knows it by heart, Ruth reads every word slowly, carefully, taking her time. See you soon. For a moment she closes her eyes. Here and there the map is decorated with illustrations: Truro cathedral, a cow standing over a pail of milk destined to be Cornish cream, St Michael's Mount, the rocks at Land's End.
Midway between Cape Cornwall and Sennen Cove, close to a zigzag of coast, a small dot has been made with a ballpoint pen, and when Ruth holds it up, as she does now, towards the kitchen window, the afternoon already beginning to fade, she can see a faint pinprick of light through the hole the pen has deliberately made. This is where I am, written in small letters that curve out across the ocean. This is where I am: an arrow pointing to the spot.
It's not certain how long she stands there, staring out, staring down, the card in her hand. Then, with a small catch of her breath, she slips the card back into the envelope, the envelope back into the drawer, and, glancing at the clock, turns quickly away. Time to change into her shoes, pull on her coat, collect her daughter from school; her other daughter, Beatrice, the one who is still alive.
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Book Description Thorndike Press, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11141042975X