A gripping tale of psychological suspense perfect for the readership of Minette Walters and Ruth Rendell, Half Broken Things is a novel that peers into the lives of three dangerously lost people…and the ominous haven they find when they find each other.
British author Joss's brilliantly conceived, finely executed novel, which captured the CWA's Silver Dagger Award, offers psychological suspense of the highest order. The catalyst for a trio of misfits is Jean, a 64-year-old housesitter on the verge of forced retirement. Her last assignment is lengthy: nine months alone at an isolated country house, Walden Manor, whose wealthy owners are abroad for an extended stay. Jean's first casual liberties with the house are almost accidental. Then, as she begins to think of the place as home, she becomes bolder. She welcomes Michael, a middle-aged, less-than-successful thief, who becomes her "lost" son, and the pregnant, unmarried and abused Steph, who becomes her daughter-in-law. In Joss's capable hands, these three lonely losers begin to craft a family life. Even as they use another's property to do so, they're as appealing as they are appalling. How long will their idyll last How far will they go to preserve it What crimes are too great This is a must-read. Joss is also the author of the Sara Selkirk mystery series (Fruitful Bodies, etc.). Agent, Jean Naggar. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 26, 2005
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Excerpt from Half Broken Things by Morag Joss
Walden Manor August
This is not what it might look like. Weýre quiet people. As a general rule extraordinary things do not happen to us, and we are not the type to go looking for them. But so much has happened since January, and I started it. Things began to happen, things I must have brought about somehow without quite foreseeing where they would lead. So I feel I must explain, late in the day though it is. Iým going to set out, as clearly as I can, in the order in which they occurred, the things that have happened here. And I shall find it difficult because I was brought up not to draw attention to myself and Iýve never been considered a forthcoming person, never being one to splurge out on anything, least of all great long explanations. Indeed, Mother always described me as secretive. But that was because, with her, I came to expect my reasons for things to be not so much misunderstood as overlooked or mislaid, and so early on I stopped giving them.
Father was usually quiet, too. When I think back to the sounds of the house in Oakfield Avenue where I grew up, I do not remember voices. I think we sighed or cleared our throats more often than we spoke words. I remember mainly the tick of Fatherýs longcase clock in the dining room we never ate in, and then after the clock had gone, a particular silence throughout the house that I thought of as a shade of grey. And much later when I was an adult, still there looking after Mother, the most regular sound was the microwave. It pinged a dozen times a day. In fact, until recently, whenever I heard a certain tone of ping, in a shop or somewhere like that, I would immediately smell boiling milk. But when I was a child there was just the clock, with silences in between.
Mother had few words herself. She often went about the house as if she were harbouring unsaid things at great personal cost, with a locked look on her mouth. That being so, I suppose Father and I felt unable to open our own mouths very much. What happens to all the things you might say or want to say, but donýt? Well, they donýt lie about in your head indefinitely, waiting to be let out. For a time they may stay there quite patiently, but then they shuffle off and fade until you canýt locate them any more, and you realise theyýre not coming back. By then youýre past caring.
So I grew to think of myself as someone not in particular need of words. I did not acquire the habit of calling them up; not many at a time at least, not even to myself in my own head. Things in my head had been very quiet for a long time, before all this.