THE MISSING ONE will celebrate its launch at Newtonville Books in Newton, MA on February 12th at 7 p.m. Please join us and spread the word!
In her gripping debut novel, THE MISSING ONE (Quercus * 2/3/15 * HC * $24.99 * 9781623659899), Lucy Atkins takes us on one woman’s journey to the beautiful and rugged Pacific Northwest to discover the dark secrets of her family’s past so that she can understand and accept herself. Kal McKenzie was never close to her mother Elena, whose coldness towards her spoiled any chance of a good relationship. When Elena dies of cancer, Kal feels forlorn: how do you mourn a mother who, inexplicably, just didn’t seem to love you?
While clearing out Elena’s art studio, Kal finds a drawer packed with postcards, each bearing an identical one-line message from a Canadian gallery owner named Susannah Gillespie: “Thinking of you.” Who is this woman and might she hold the key to her ruined relationship with her mother?
Conflicted by her grief and shaken up from recently seeing a covetous text from an old girlfriend on her husband’s cell phone, Kal impulsively sets off with her toddler Finn to Susannah’s home on a remote British Columbian island, a place of killer whales and storms.
Soon Kal quickly realizes she has made a big mistake. The striking and enigmatic Susannah will only share a few scraps of information about Elena. Kal discovers that her mother was a pioneering orca researcher—an activist trying to save the powerful and dangerous creatures.
As Kal struggles to piece together her mother’s past and what happened between Elena and Susannah in the 1970s, Susannah’s behavior grows more and more erratic. Most worrying of all, Susannah is becoming increasingly preoccupied with little Finn.
Told in two competing narratives, The Missing One intermixes Kal’s present-day journey with that of her mother’s awakening as an independent woman, scientist and activist in the 70’s. As these two narratives converge, the novel transforms into a white-knuckle thriller where the secrets of the past imperil the lives of the present.
Interweaving local lore of how orcas protect those of their own who travel away from home, and guide them back safely, Lucy Atkins wrestles with the question of how the past influences the present, and the unexpected ways other people—sometimes even strangers—can own our histories.
A Cleveland Plain Dealer Best Mystery of 2014
“ Part mystery, part feminist tome, part story of parental love, part animal-rights narrative, The Missing One is like nothing I’ve read before . . . [a] poetic page-turner
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Lucy Atkins's engrossing debut immediately immerses the reader in intrigue."
"A gripping page-turner."
—The Sunday Times
"A moving and suspenseful tale of the secrets a family keeps."—Rachel Hore, author of The Silent Tide
"Beautifully written and compelling... a wonderful thriller that is also such a strong portrayal of motherhood."—Sabine Durrant, author of Under Your Skin
A page-turning and suspenseful tale... I read it in three sittings... a compelling emotional mystery."—Lucy Clarke, author of The Sea Sisters
"This novel is brilliantly gripping."—Closer