"The author of the "rich, dark, and intricately twisted" (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears. Owen Pick's life is falling apart. In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt's spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel-involuntary celibate-forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn. Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, aphysiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He's a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night. Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine's night, Saffyre Maddox disappears-and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick. With evocative, vivid, and unputdownable prose and plenty of disturbing twists and turns, Jewell's latest thriller is another "haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read" (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author)"-
Lisa Jewell is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels, including The Family Upstairs and Then She Was Gone, as well as Watching You and I Found You. Her novels have sold more than 4.5 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into twenty-five languages. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK, on Instagram @LisaJewellUK, and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
The disappearance of a teenage girl disrupts the lives of her former therapist, his family, and a lonely neighbor. Seventeen-year-old Saffyre Maddox has been in therapy with Roan Fours, a child psychologist, for three years for self-harming after the deaths of her parents. When Roan suggests Saffyre is ready to move on, she feels betrayed and begins following Roan and spying on his wife, Cate, and two teenage children. She learns Roan is having an affair but also that multiple sexual assaults are taking place in his neighborhood. When Saffyre disappears after her blood is found by the apartments across the street from Roan's house, Owen Pick, one of Roan and Cate's neighbors, is arrested and jailed based on his history of visiting incel websites after having been placed on leave from his job following sexual misconduct complaints. At the same time, Cate becomes suspicious of Roan's lies and where their son, Josh, is sneaking out to. Jewell's latest domestic thriller features an array of characters set in a posh London neighborhood but struggles to create any real tension regarding Saffyre 's disappearance. The themes of sexual assault and incel culture are only marginally developed despite the key part each plays in the story. As such, even with these subjects, Jewell's latest is not nearly as dark as her earlier novels. This might be a welcome change if the characters had emotional depth or unique narrative voices, but they too are only superficially realized. A lackluster and underdeveloped story. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Chapter 1: Saffyre
MY NAME IS Saffyre Maddox. I am seventeen years old.
I am mostly Welsh on my dad&;s side and partly Trinidadian, partly Malaysian, and a tiny bit French from my mum. Sometimes people try to guess my heritage, but they always end up getting it wrong. If anyone asks I just say that I am a mixed bag and leave it at that. No reason for anyone to know who slept with who, you know. It&;s my business really, isn&;t it?
I&;m in my first year of sixth form at a school in Chalk Farm, where I&;m doing maths, physics, and biology because I&;m a bit of a nerd. I don&;t really know what I want to do when I leave school; everyone expects me to go to university, but sometimes I think I&;d just like to go and work in a zoo, maybe, or a dog groomer&;s.
I live in a two-bedroom flat on the eighth floor of a tower on Alfred Road, right opposite a school I don&;t go to, because they hadn&;t actually built it when I started secondary.
My grandma died shortly before I was born, my mum died shortly afterward, my dad didn&;t want to know, and my granddad died a few months ago. So I live alone with my uncle.
He&;s only ten years older than me, and his name is Aaron. He looks after me like a father. He works at a betting shop, nine to five, and does people&;s gardens on the weekends. He&;s probably the best human being in the world. I have another uncle, Lee, who lives in Essex with his wife and two tiny daughters. So there are finally some girls in the family, but it&;s a bit late for me now.
I grew up with two men, and, as a result, I&;m not that great with girls. Or, more accurately, I&;m better with boys. I used to hang out with the boys when I was a kid and got called a tomboy, which I don&;t think I ever was. But then I started to change and became &;pretty&; (and I do not think I&;m pretty; I just know that everyone I meet tells me that I am), and boys stopped wanting to hang out as a mate and got all weird around me, and I could tell that I&;d be better off if I could harvest some girls. So I harvested some girls, and we&;re not close&;don&;t reckon I&;ll ever see any of them again once I&;ve left school&;but we get on OK just as something to do. We&;ve all known each other a long, long time now. It&;s easy.
So that&;s the bare outline of me. I&;m not a happy, happy kind of person. I don&;t have a big laugh, and I don&;t do that hugging thing that the other girls like to do. I have boring hobbies: I like to read, and I like to cook. I&;m not big on going out. I like a bit of rum with my uncle on a Friday night while we&;re watching TV, but I don&;t smoke weed or take drugs or anything like that. It&;s amazing how boring you can get away with being when you&;re pretty. No one seems to notice. When you&;re pretty everyone just assumes you must have a great life. People are so short-sighted, sometimes. People are so stupid.
I have a dark past, and I have dark thoughts. I do dark things, and I scare myself sometimes. I wake in the middle of the night, and I&;ve twisted myself into my bedsheets. Before I go to sleep, I tuck my bedsheet under the mattress, really hard, really firm, so the sheet is taut enough to bounce a coin off. The next morning all four corners are free; my sheet and I are entwined. I don&;t remember what happened. I don&;t remember my dreams. I don&;t feel rested.
When I was ten years old something really, really bad happened to me. Let&;s maybe not get into that too deep. But yes, I was a little girl, and it was a big bad thing that no little girl should have to experience, and it changed me. I started to hurt myself, on my ankles, inside my ankle socks, so no one would see the scratches. I knew what self-harming was&;everyone knows these days&;but I didn&;t know why I was doing it. I just knew that it stopped me thinking too hard about other things in my life.
Then when I was about twelve my uncle Aaron saw the scratches and the scars, put two and two together, and took me to my GP, who referred me to the Portman Children&;s Centre for therapy.