28 Sept 2018

Blog Tour Extract / Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

A smart, haunting tale of psychological suspense from the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind.

Jane loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in a senseless accident. Jane is devastated, but sometime later, she makes one tiny stab at a new life: she moves from San Francisco to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. She is inconsolable, and yet, as the months go by, she is able to cobble together some version of a job, of friends, of the possibility of peace.

And then, children begin to disappear. And soon, Jane sees her own pain reflected in all the parents in the town. She wonders if she will be able to live through the aching loss, the fear all around her. But as the disappearances continue, she begins to see that what her neighbors are wondering is if it is Jane herself who has unleashed the horror of loss.

Half Moon Bay is a chilling story about a mother haunted by her past. As Stewart O’Nan said about Turn of Mind—this novel “blindfolds the reader and spins her around.”

My review of this story will follow soon....

A police car, she can see as it comes into focus. Its lights flashing. White with black geometric markings. And another. And another. A dark figure approaches, grows darker and more substantial as it gets closer.
May I help you, ma’am? When did she turn from a miss into a ma’am? The shift has been imperceptible. Yet it has happened. Maiden, mother, crone. She is no longer either of the first two, so that leaves the final stage. At thirty-nine, her red hair glints gray in direct light.
What’s going on? Jane asks. Even her voice is muffled by the fog.
The figure comes closer. It is wearing a hat, a uniform with a badge on it. It is male, as she should have known from the voice. But somehow that surprises her. What did she expect? Something not quite of this earth. A hobgoblin. Bugbear. But this man seems solid, human. A policeman. The bearer of bad news.
It’s a search party. You live near here?
A silly question. No one lives near Mavericks. To reach it, you have to wind your way through the acres of rusting warehouses and grounded boats Jane has just navigated.
Over there. Jane motions with her head in the general direction of her cottage.
You know the McCreadys, then?
Just the name, Jane says. She tries to conjure up faces, fails.
They live up on the hill. He points into the darkness.
Oh. That explains it. Hill people. They’re different. In another life, Jane would have been one of them. They live in the new houses clinging precipitously to the steep hill above Princeton-by-the-Sea. The ornate ones painted to look like Victorians from the last century.
With balconies no one stepped onto, lounge chairs no one sat in. Hill people were the prosperous professionals: the doctors and lawyers and engineers who commuted every day over the hill to Silicon Valley. Another world from here, the San Mateo coast. Although it’s a small community, Jane isn’t on speaking terms with any of the people who live up the hill. Most of them belong to a different species altogether, with their business suits and BMWs that roar off at 7:00 a.m. to make it over Route 92 to Sunnyvale or Milpitas by the start of the workday. Programmers and project managers. Financial analysts, accountants. Men and women who spend more time on the road than at home. People capable of organizing their thoughts into logical code, Gantt charts of responsibility, and numbers that add up. Ambiguity banished from their lives during the day. Then back here, to the rolling sea and amorphous fog. A strange existence. It takes a certain kind of person to juggle the contrasts. Jane knows she sounds scornful, but really she is envious. They have found balance.
What about the McCreadys?
 Their little girl, Heidi. She’s wandered away.
Jane considers. Why are you looking here? she asks. It seems an implausible place and time.
This was her favorite spot. She’d been here with her parents this afternoon. The little girl lost her magic pebble. They thought she might have come back to look for it.
Jane considers. Magic pebbles. It hurts to remember. Magic string, magic pencils, even magic bugs. Jane had fixed up a cardboard box to contain the spiders and the roly-polies Angela captured from under the porch, but they all skittered away through the cracks. Jane’s heart breaking to see Angela’s tears of irrevocable loss. A child’s grief, never to be trivialized.
How old was she? Jane asks.
Angela didn’t speak until she was five. Jane and Rick had taught her sign language and communicated with their hands. Eat. More? All gone. Then, suddenly, out came everything in full sentences. Angela had kept it all inside until she burst. She learned that from Jane.
A long way to walk for a five-year-old, Jane says.
A missing girl. Police. This will end badly. Such things always end badly.