From TheGlobe and Mail bestselling author of Still Mine comes a new thriller featuring Clare and Malcolm, this time on the hunt for a missing mother and son in a town that is drowning in deception—Clare may be in her gravest danger yet.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE TRUTH IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS?
Clare has to find them.
Sally Proulx and her young boy have mysteriously disappeared in the stormy town of High River. Clare is hired to track them down, hoping against all odds to find them alive. But High River isn’t your typical town. It’s a place where women run to—women who want to escape their past. They run to Helen Haines, a matriarch who offers them safe haven and anonymity. Pretending to be Sally’s long-lost friend, Clare turns up and starts asking questions, but nothing prepares her for the swirl of deception and the depth of the lies.
Did Sally drown? Did her son? Was it an accident, or is their disappearance part of something bigger?
In a town where secrets are crucial to survival, everyone is hiding something. Detectives Somers and Rourke clearly have an ulterior motive beyond solving the case. Malcolm Boon, who hired Clare, knows more about her than he reveals. And Helen is concealing a tragic family history of her own. As the truth surges through High River, Clare must face the very thing she has so desperately been running from, even if it comes at a devastating cost. Compulsively gripping and twisty, Still Water is a deep dive of a thriller that will leave you breathless.
Clare jolts upright, her hand at her mouth to stifle a scream.
This room is blue with moonlight. Clare is on a single bed, its rusted joints creaking beneath her as she adjusts to sitting. She blinks. Bare walls, high ceiling, cobwebs wound tight in the corners. There is an open window, a hot wind lifting the corner of her bedsheet. The door is closed. Another single bed is pressed to the far wall, a woman lying facedown, asleep, as still as a corpse.
A voice in Clare’s head. Do you know about this place?
The woman in the bed lets out a long whine. Clare studies her in the low light. She looks to be in her midthirties, her face gently lined but tense even in sleep. She rolls onto her back, one arm flapped over the side of the bed. There is a zigzag of scars on her forearm and palm. Defensive scars, Clare knows. The kind that come from fending someone off. They spoke only briefly after Clare arrived last night, shook hands, maneuvered around each other in the small space. Raylene, she’d said. Her name is Raylene.
The painted hardwood floor is warm under Clare’s feet. She stands and tiptoes to the window. This room is on the second story, a porch roof extending below her. Two hundred feet ahead, a river churns. A willow tree is perched so close to the water that its thick roots curl over the edge of the bank. A wooden cross has been nailed askew to its trunk. Clare twists her hair into a bun, then crouches to catch the breeze on her neck.
Do you know about this place?
Yes, Clare thinks, eyes on the wooden cross. I know about this place.
This morning, there was the ocean. Two days ago, Malcolm Boon in the doorway of Clare’s room, a folder in hand.
I have a new case, he’d said. A woman and her child have disappeared.
How many days since she and Malcolm absconded from the hospital in Blackmore before the police could question them? How many days and nights did Clare spend in that motel room, drifting in and out of fitful sleep as she healed from the gunshot wound? She can muster only flashes. Bandages peeled back, the angry pink of her shoulder. A meal eaten on an unmade bed. A dusty glass of water Malcolm gave her to wash down the pills. The tide in and out on a beach. Malcolm there, Malcolm gone. And then, Malcolm arriving with the folder, offering her a new assignment.
I think you’d be good for this case, he’d said. It’s a place called High River. A place for women like you.
Something had roused Clare then. Her second case. A chance to right the wrongs of her first effort, to prove she might actually be good at this work. For twenty-four hours she’d pored over the folder: Sally Proulx and her two-year-old son, William, swept away days ago by the same river Clare watches out this window now. She’d papered the wall of her motel room with the timeline and backstory, photos and police reports. Photos of Sally in her previous life, before she and William arrived in High River. As Clare worked, a strange energy bolted through her. She couldn’t sleep. She wouldn’t talk to Malcolm. She cut back on the pills, holding her breath against the waves of pain and nausea. This time, she would be prepared. She would invent a version of herself that fit in at High River. Go undercover. Learn from her mistakes. It only occurs to her now that Malcolm probably chose this case because he knew it would hit too close to home for Clare to refuse it.
With a gasp, Raylene sits up in bed, eyes wide. “No!” she says. “No.”
Her eyes search the room until she spots Clare crouched at the open window.
“It’s okay,” Clare says.
Raylene’s eyes are unfocused, afraid.
“You were dreaming,” Clare whispers. “Go back to sleep.”
As if never awake, Raylene slides down the bed until her head lands softly on her pillow.
Rain. Clare extends her hand through the open window to catch the first drops on her palm. She can never remember her own dreams. It used to suit Clare to forget, to abandon the details of her life before this one, those many months on the run before she met Malcolm Boon. Before Malcolm hired her to do this strange work of searching for lost or missing women, before her first case in Blackmore. Before the bullet wound and the blur of days spent recovering at that seaside motel. As they drove to High River yesterday, southward to this thick heat, Malcolm kept such quiet that when he spoke, his voice startled Clare.
Remember, he said. We got lucky on the Blackmore case.
We got lucky, Clare repeated, hand resting on the shotgun wound just inches from her heart. Lucky.
What I mean, Malcolm said, is that missing women don’t always turn up alive.
Forget luck, Clare wanted to say. Instead she looked out her window in silence, any change in the landscape masked by the gas stations and fast-food joints on repeat at every interchange. Mile after mile she mulled the details of the High River case. The little boy and his mother. Fixating on the details of the case distracted Clare from the pain in her shoulder, from the panic, the need for one more pill to take the edge off. She committed everything in that file to memory, every detail of Sally Proulx’s story absorbed, Clare an actor learning her part. This time, she will play Sally’s friend, a more direct route into the story than she took last time. But now that she’s here in High River, Clare feels uncertain she’s made the right choice in agreeing to take on this case. She stares at the white cross, at the swaying tentacles of the willow tree. Her chest hurts. Her shoulder hurts. It feels hard to breathe in this heat. She thinks of the letter from her husband that she carries in her bag.
I can’t forget you, my Clare. You’re still mine.
Eighteen, Clare thinks. Eighteen days since she left Blackmore with Malcolm, driving west to the ocean and that motel, the letter from Jason in her back pocket. Two hundred and twenty-five days since she left Jason, sprinting through the snowy back fields to the car she’d hidden under a sheet. A long-planned escape from a vicious husband. A life left behind months ago. But no matter how much time passes, she can’t seem to stop counting the days.
Do you know about this place?
It was Raylene who’d asked her this question as they lay in the dark last night, hours after Clare first arrived. Clare had feigned sleep instead of answering. Yesterday she’d felt certain she was equipped for this. She’d felt certain she’d learned all she could about High River, that this time her cover would be rock solid. Clare glances over her shoulder to Raylene, curled into fetal position, a pained look on her face as she sleeps. Clare looks back at the river, then presses the window all the way closed, her hands shaking with pain or withdrawal or panic, she can never tell which anymore.
It doesn’t matter if I’m ready, Clare thinks. I’m here.
Amy Stuart is the internationally bestselling author of Still Mine and Still Water. She was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award, and won the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition, and was a finalist for the 2012 Vanderbilt/Exile Award. Amy’s writing has previously appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three sons. Visit her at AmyStuart.ca or @AmyFStuart.
“Her prose is rich and descriptive, building suspense and creating a moody atmosphere.”
– Quill and Quire
“Torontonian Amy Stuart’s debut novel, Still Mine, was highly promising. Still Water brings back the same characters in a new setting and proves that Stuart is no one-book author. Still Water is even better than her debut.”
– The Globe and Mail
“Riveting, twisty and full of tangled secrets…. A stay-up-all-night read. Impossible to put down!”
– Karma Brown, bestselling author of In This Moment
“Instantly captivating, mysterious and relevant—Amy Stuart has done it again!”
– Marissa Stapley, author of Things to Do When It’s Raining
“The tension in this book is sharp enough to cut. A pervasive sense of dread and danger flows through Still Water as Clare struggles to unravel both the secrets in front of her and the ones she thought she left behind. If you liked Still Mine, you'll love Still Water.”
– Tyrell Johnson, bestselling author of The Wolves of Winter
“As swift, intense and vengeful as the river it describes, this book is a must-read. Secrets swirl in the deep of Still Water, Stuart’s gripping new thriller of loss and refuge. With a gallery of characters on the run, the pages beat and churn like an aching heart.”
– Roz Nay, bestselling author of Our Little Secret
“Complex characters with gut-wrenching backstories propel this twisty mystery toward its shocking conclusion. I was engrossed!”
– Robyn Harding, bestselling author of The Party
“Utterly compelling and intriguing, Still Water is a very clever whodunit with a most appealingly vulnerable protagonist. My husband thought I was ignoring him while I was reading this book. I wasn’t. I just forgot he existed because I was so engrossed. Warn your families before you pick up this book.”
– Liz Nugent, bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver
Praise for STILL MINE
“An impressive debut, rooted in character rather than trope, in fundamental understanding rather than rote puzzle-solving.”
– The Globe and Mail
“A gripping page-turner, with a plot that takes hold of you and drags you through the story at breakneck speed. The characters are compelling, the setting chilling and the suspense ever-present. Add to that, Stuart has an ability to tap into the dark psychology behind addiction and abuse, and to bring these complex struggles to life in a way that stays with you for days.”
– Toronto Star
“Stuart has created a likable heroine, complete with some pretty serious flaws. Between Clare and the other characters of Blackmore, the story is both haunting and compelling.”
– Vancouver Sun
"Stuart is a sensitive writer who has given Clare a painful past and just enough backbone to bear it."
– New York Times
“A darkly entertaining mystery machine. But what will really surprise you is the emotional foundation on which it has been built.”
– Andrew Pyper, bestselling author of The Demonologist and The Damned
“Still Mine delivers all the nail-biting moments of a fast-paced thriller and filters them through the eyes of girl-with-a-past Clare O’Dey: deeply flawed yet instantly recognizable, O’Dey is a noir detective hero for a postmodern age. Author Amy Stuart sends one missing woman out to look for another one, and the result is chilling. You’ll find yourself turning the pages faster and faster.”
– Elisabeth de Mariaffi, author of The Devil You Know
“An intricately woven thriller.... You’ll want desperately to solve the mystery not only of the missing Shayna, but of Clare O’Dey, Amy Stuart’s heartbreaking heroine, on the run from the darkest forces both within and without—and you’ll have a hard time forgetting the everytown of Blackstone and its scheming, desperate inhabitants.... A vivid and haunting debut.”
– Holly LeCraw, author of The Swimming Pool
“A haunting treasure of a book that burrowed its way into my psyche as I read it.… Not since The Silent Wife have I been rendered so powerlessly riveted by a psychological thriller. I can’t wait to read what Stuart writes next.”
– Marissa Stapley, author of Mating for Life
“From its evocative opening to its heart-pounding conclusion, Still Mine is a gripping mystery that I felt desperate to solve. Amy Stuart paints a vivid picture of the stark mountain town, Blackmore, and the cast of shadowy characters who inhabit it. A tense and absorbing read.”
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