Presumed Dead is published in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in just one week.
In the meantime, here's a deleted scene from the book. This was the original prologue. I cut it from the final version of the book for a few reasons, but I thought it would be nice to post it here, as it sets the story up, and introduces one of the main characters, Isabella Green.
‘Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime.’
That’s what it says on the sign at the town limits. People make jokes about it. Bethany is a nice place to live, mostly. But then I say that like I know what it’s like to live anywhere else, and I don’t, not really.
Lake Bethany, to give the town its Sunday name, is just about big enough that you can always find somewhere to be alone if you need to, but small enough to feel like a real community. The kind of place where folks look out for one another. Invite their neighbours over for a cookout in the summer, help to dig out driveways in the winter, check in on the older people who don’t have family. That kind of thing. Of course, just like in any community, there are people who take more of an interest in their neighbors’ business than others, but I guess you can find that anywhere.
There’s enough to keep you busy. We have all the stores you need: food, hardware, a couple of restaurants. Jimmy’s Bar has a band on every Tuesday night, and sometimes it’s even a good one. Not a bookstore, of course, that closed down a long time ago.
It’s quiet. Rarely any real trouble these days, and I would certainly know. Oh sure, there’s the occasional bar fight in Jimmy’s, the occasional DUI, the occasional teenage kegger getting a little out of hand, but mostly Sheriff McGregor keeps things shipshape.
No, if there’s trouble, it tends to come from outside.
Weekend hunters from the city, or farther afield. College kids stopping off for a night on their way down to Macon or Atlanta. Even normally well-behaved hikers can get a little high-spirited on their day off. Anyway, the sheriff makes sure that if the out-of-towners step out of line, they only do it once.
That’s the way it is in most towns the size of Bethany I guess. You’re a long way from backup, so you have to make sure you keep people in line. You can’t afford to let things get out of hand.
There’s been no real trouble worth the name in Bethany for years now. Not since the summer of ’03. Folks around here don’t like to bring that up, and any visitors who do tend to be politely but firmly moved on to other topics of conversation. Besides, that wasn’t about Bethany, even though you could argue our town bore the highest cost. The past is past, that’s what people say around here.
Except, that’s never quite true, is it?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the past over the last year or so. Ever since Mom got sick. It forced me to think about my father, and what happened to him. It’s funny how one person can just change everything. About you, about the people you know, about the place you live in. Like in high school chemistry, adding a catalyst to a solution. And then just like that, their absence can change everything all over again.
David Connor is another one thinking about the past, though in his case that’s really nothing new. He’s been different, the last couple of months. We had barely exchanged a word since high school, ever since it happened. Then all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, he wanted to talk about it. I don’t know why he reached out to me then. Maybe he thought we had some kind of shared bond, because we both lost someone that night. I didn’t need that. Back then, after it happened, everybody told me I needed people around me to get through it, but that’s not true. Truth is, for better or worse all I’ve ever needed is myself.
But David Connor only wanted to talk about Adeline, not my dad. He got it into his head that she was alive, somehow. Crazy.
I listened, and I told him no way. Adeline is as dead as all the others. And that was when it struck me for the first time. It’s funny how all the most important people in Bethany are dead.
David didn’t want to hear it, so I left him to it. I figure it’s harmless, to everyone else at least. Just David’s way of dealing with the grief. Or perhaps his way of not dealing with it.
I can tell the sheriff isn’t happy with him digging into ancient history, though. Like I said, this town prefers the past in the past, and Jim McGregor doesn’t like people who go looking for trouble.
That reminds me. Do you remember when I said most of the trouble in Bethany comes from outsiders? That’s true.
It seemed like things were going just fine until Carter Blake came to town.
UK trade paperback (large format)