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Half-Broken Things

by Morag Joss

Library Journal: British suspense writer Joss (Funeral Music) won CWA's Silver Dagger Award for this novel about Jean, a housesitter being forced into retirement. With nothing to lose and nowhere to go, Jean moves into the master bedroom of the lovely Walden Manor, her final posting. She dons the owners' clothes, raids the wine cellar, and assembles an impromptu family that includes Michael, a petty criminal, and Steph, a pregnant woman searching for a place to belong. Joss does a credible job of showing how Jean and her guests at Walden Manor find a sense of community they've never before experienced. But then tension mounts as the owners' return draws ever closer and the interlopers become more desperately ensconced in their borrowed home. Jean pleads for understanding for herself and her fellow cohorts, but they are so cold-blooded in their pursuit of happiness that the reader may end up racing through the story as much to get away from these horrifying people as to find out what happens to them. Recommended where suspense fiction is in demand.—Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND

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Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. 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.).

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms