Winner of the CWA Silver Dagger Award: A desire for a home can drive people to do things that they never thought possible
Family is a powerful force. It’s only when you don’t have one that you realize how strong the bonds truly are. Michael, Jean, and Steph all have learned this the hard way. Michael, abandoned as a child, steals from churches just to make ends meet in his low-rent apartment. Jean lives as a lonely caretaker, watching over vast houses while their rich owners are away. Steph is pregnant and trapped in an abusive relationship. However, in an instant, a life can change forever.
When Steph leaves her boyfriend, she finds a home and then a family with Michael, who is overjoyed. Meanwhile, Jean grows more and more comfortable in her current residence, taking proxy ownership rather than facing mandatory retirement. She begins telling stories of a son and soon places an ad in search of one. When Michael realizes what she is up to, he and Steph move in with her, and the three form an ad-hoc family. But reality is never far in this familial fantasy, and it is about to come calling.
“This is an extraordinary book—dark, painful, thought-provoking, and disturbing. Joss’ masterful narrative delivers a provocative examination of good and evil, the nature of love, and the infinite variety of human behavior.” —Booklist
“This is a must read.” —Publishers Weekly
“Ravishing . . . Through the intimacy of her narrative voice and the depth and deftness of her characterizations, Joss directs the play-acting of this pseudo-family into deadly serious territory.” —The New York Times
“[Joss’s] confidence in handling shifts of narrative, the obtrusively fine descriptions of the natural world, and the uncanny gift for dialogue and, above all, a forensic ability to deconstruct psychological disintegration combine to make a work of fiction that sets its author on the path to greatness.” —The Times (London)
“Sad, funny, original and wise.” —Literary Review
“It is a fantastic moral exercise as well as a gripping novel.” —Scotland on Sunday
“Joss is a writer who draws you into the characters and their world so effectively that it is an utterly mesmerizing read. The sense of impending doom and the horror of what unfolds are expertly done. This is a top-notch example of British psychological thriller writing.” —Manchester Evening News
“A first class psychological gripper, highly recommended.” —Birmingham Post
“This thriller continues to haunt long after the last page.” —Daily Record
“Joss is a welcome addition to the growing band of accomplished psychological thriller writers. She has a unique talent for writing a straightforward tale that completely fools the reader until one tiny event shatters the illusion of normality.” —The Good Book Guide
Morag Joss’s writing career began in 1996 when her first short story won an award in a national competition. Starting to write, she says, meant “discovering a lifelong ambition I didn’t know I had.” Joss’s first three novels comprise the Sara Selkirk Mysteries, the first of which, Funeral Music, was a finalist for the Dilys Award. Half Broken Things won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger Award and was later adapted into a TV film starring Penelope Wilton, and The Night Following was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Some critics describe Joss’s work as psychological suspense and others as literary fiction. She received a PhD from Oxford Brookes University in 2014 and is now at work on her ninth novel, Good to Go.