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The Missing One [Hardcover]

Lucy Atkins
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jan 2015
In this gripping debut, The Missing One, Lucy Atkins takes us on one woman’s terrifying 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 what does 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 isolated 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. Unbeknownst to her, she discovers that her mother was a pioneering orca researcher—an activist trying to save these 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. Kal’s uneasiness soon proves true and Kal must confront the biggest threat to her family she has ever experienced.
Told in two competing narratives, The Missing One intermixes Kal’s present day journey to with that of her mother’s awakening as an independent woman, scientist, and activist. 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 who travel away from home, and guides them back safely, in The Missing One Lucy Atkins wrestles with the question of how the past influences the present, and who has the right to own one’s history.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (6 Jan 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623651719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623651718
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
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More About the Author

Lucy Atkins is an award winning author and journalist. The Sunday Times called her debut novel, The Missing One (Quercus, January 2014; Quercus USA February 2015) a 'gripping page turner'. She is also the author, co-author, or ghostwriter of eight non-fiction books including First Time Parent (Collins). She is a Sunday Times book critic and feature journalist for UK newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Express, The Times, and magazines such as Red, Woman and Home, Psychologies and Grazia. Her second novel will be published summer 2015.

Product Description


'A moving and suspenseful tale of the secrets a family keeps' Rachel Hore. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author, as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed. Reviews shown are from other formats of this item.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic fiction debut from this author 16 Feb 2014
By Sharon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Kal has always had a strained relationship with her mother Elena but she never really understood why so when Elena dies it leaves Kal with a whole lot of unanswered questions. Whilst clearing through some of her mother's things she comes across some postcards that her mother had received annually from someone called Susannah, someone she'd never heard of before.

But that's not the only thing on her mind as she suspects that her husband might be in contact with his ex so she needs some time to herself to think things through but what she does next could seriously cost her more than she could ever imagine.

Kal decides to head off on a spur of the moment journey to Vancouver with her toddler son Finn to try and piece together the mystery that was her mother's life...

What follows is a gripping tale full of intrigue as we discover the truth about the life that Elena had kept hidden from Kal for all those years through recollections of her time in California in the 1970s. It didn't help Kal's journey of discovery that her father wasn't exactly forthcoming with answers when she tried to ask him about her mother or that Susannah was not quite the person she thought she was either.

I really felt for Kal who felt like she was losing her mind and beginning to wonder how much of what she's known about her mother was true and how much was fiction.

From the very first page I was drawn in hook, line and sinker and constantly found myself wanting to pick this up and read even when I should really have been doing other work! Through the descriptive writing you get a real feel for the rugged landscape and all the ensuing drama that unfolds, there is simply no other way to describe how I felt about this book than to say I loved it.

A fantastic story from Lucy Atkins, I cannot wait to read more books from her in the future.

I received a review copy of this eBook from the publisher via NetGalley.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What a powerful book! 6 April 2014
By Mrs DJ
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had no idea what I would be reading about when I first picked up this book - at first I thought it was just going to be another romantic betrayal novel. The author draws you in right from the start, and despite her lengthy descriptive technique which at times I found a little too 'lengthy' she did create a suspense which ultimately made it very challenging to put the book down. Another plus was the whales - my love of Orca's gave this story another dimension for me. Although many readers, like myself would have worked out the secret from her past quite early into the book this does not spoil the final outcome when everything is revealed as there are still a few twists & turns along the way - right until the very end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, vivid, atmospheric, gripping. 17 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I havent read a novel so quickly in years- the author had me gripped from the beginning. Loved the detail about being a mum to a toddler, the physical and emotional angles. Thinking again about the story- I'm still there driving from the airport and on the stormy coast of Canada. Cant wait for the author's next book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Booktrail set in Vancouver Island, Canada 30 July 2014
The setting – Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Broughton Archipelago
The story of Kali, a woman whose mother has just died of cancer, is going through a difficult time. Having sorted through her things, she finds some postcards which were sent from the same woman on the same day each year. So, she tracks her down to a remote Canadian location. But why is this strange woman so fixated on Kali’s small son Finn.

What she finds out and what happens on her journey to the island is compelling stuff and you are drawn into her emotional and physical journey and the many obstacles she comes across. I often wanted to shout NO!! as she made one bad decision after the other or meets someone and seems naive about the motives of others. But the sympathy for what she gets herself into and why soon makes its appearance. And then some.

Her father has kept an important fact from her in order to protect her, yet it ends up putting her in the gravest danger -

"It is too late to make amends but it is not too late to understand."

As Kali will find out – sometimes that which we keep secret inorder to protect others is the very thing that can destroy us.

The setting – the location of this novel is as central a part of the novel as the story of Kali and her quest to find out the truth. The writing takes you there so cleverly and is so evocative of the archipelago and the sea mist. You can almost taste the salt on your tongue as you read…..

This for me is where the book really excels as I have done so much research on the subject of Orca whales and their natural habitat since reading this novel, anyone would think I am a scientist in training.
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What a wild ride! – with a shivering rather than a shuddering crisis, of a dip into wintry Canadian waters. The suspense was masterly, especially when the heroine wakes up to find her baby gone, and the Cahuly (?) smashed – I kept wanting to look down to the bottom two ages ahead every time I turned the page, to see when she would next get back with her familiar characters. But no… She certainly ends up giving an object lesson on what everyone stands to lose if researchers follow their research dreams at the expense of keeping their offspring safe and domestic!
The book left me thinking that she is equally a mistress (master?) of suspense, plotting, characterization and description (God! those whales!) – as well as an expert on the difference between UK and USA, that reminds me a little of John Fowles in Daniel Martin.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
An easy holiday read.
Published 9 days ago by Knighty
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner
Loved this book. It's a very well written book, gripping story, difficult to put down. Very descriptive of life in rural Canada, evocative, and loved the main character's son Fin,... Read more
Published 11 days ago by reader scottishborders
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Heard it was a good story, but I have bot read it yet
Published 18 days ago by Mrs. Sheila Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars This book kept me on the edge of my seat ...
This book kept me on the edge of my seat...a slow burn as Kali heads off to Canada with a toddler in tow and a marriage in tatters then a quickening sense of unease as she tries to... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Rae Cameron
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent reading will definitely buy another one by this author
Published 1 month ago by Shirley McGucken
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very intricate storyline - kept me enthralled.
Published 1 month ago by Connie Weeks
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a good read, quite different to books I usually read ...
This was a good read, quite different to books I usually read but one I didn't want to put down.
Published 1 month ago by Angela & Alan Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Easyread
I learnt slot in this book. A little predictable but I enjoyed it . Do not think.I would recommend it to any avid deep reader. It made a change.
Published 2 months ago by B. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good story
Published 2 months ago by hoot
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A proper thriller - loved it
Published 2 months ago by stephanie bradley
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