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Among the Missing: A Novel [Hardcover]

Morag Joss
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 21 2011
An accident can end a life.
The same accident can begin one.

Three lives collide in the wake of an unforeseeable tragedy. When a bridge collapses in the Highlands of Scotland, dozens of commuters vanish into the freezing river below, swept by the currents toward the sea, and only an amateur video and the bridge’s security camera record their last moments. 

A woman tourist, whose car was filmed pulling onto the bridge seconds before it fell, is assumed to be among the missing. But in desperate need of money, she had sold the car only hours before. Now she can begin life over. Her path leads her to a spartan cabin on the bank of the river where, as Annabel, she is reborn, free from her past. Here she lives with Silva, an illegal immigrant whose predicament is compounded by the disappearance of her husband and their child. She waits for them each day, clinging to hope against overwhelming evidence. 

The two women are befriended by the boatman Ron, and together they create a fragile sanctuary in the shadow of the bridge that has changed their lives. They keep secrets from one another, yet also connect in ways none of them expects. Lost souls all, they struggle to survive, to trust, and to love even as the consequences of the past prove inescapable.

A masterly novel about the invisible ties that bind us to our identities, to our histories, and to one another, Among the Missing soars with the peerless voice of the author described by P. D. James as an “exciting talent.” Morag Joss, with the psychological penetration and the finely wrought prose that are her hallmarks, spins a brilliant tale of damage and reparation, suspicion and salvation.

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Advance praise for Among the Missing
“This remarkable novel has an abundance of suspense at its core, put forth in beautiful prose that all but glows on the page….The author keeps a jittery tension going as the novel spins toward its violent, grand-scaled finale. Like most thrillers with a literary bent, this one spends time with the thoughts and feelings of the characters. In lesser hands, this can be stultifying, especially if the people aren’t that interesting. But these two women have fascinating inner lives, and Joss details them in vivid, propulsive language.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“A haunting, harrowing punch to the heart, Among the Missing is flat-out brilliant.  About the secrets we keep, the lives we are desperate to live, and the chances we miss, it’s a psychological dazzler.  Truly, one of my favorite books of this year—or any year.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“Morag Joss has composed a thought-provoking pageturner, enwrapped it in beautiful language, and drawn characters you will be unable to shake.  Among the Missing vividly displays both the loveliness and the tragic consequences that can arise from the freedom to start over.  
What Alice Sebold did for grief, Morag Joss has done for reconcilement.”
—David Cristofano, author of The Girl She Used to Be

“Morag Joss is a writer who knows the old truth that genuine suspense comes not from car chases or gunplay, but from the clash of conflicting hearts.  Her latest novel, Among the Missing, is evidence not of a rising talent, but of one already fully formed.”  
—Thomas H. Cook, author of The Fate of Katherine Carr
“Vivid, intelligently written and thought-provoking, Among the Missing is a twisty and unputdownable novel.  The high-wire tension builds with such subtlety and finesse that you won't feel the shock of the ending until it's already upon you.”  
—Linda Castillo, author of Breaking Silence
"Morag Joss's haunting and beautifully written novel about the disenfranchised will pull you under, into the watery psyches of her characters. Told in their own distinct voices, their stories--individual and collective--will have you riveted to the stunning end."  
—Heather Sharfeddin, author of Damaged Goods
"Like a ticking bomb, Morag Joss's Among the Missing peels away the layers of human deception until what we are left with is a picture of ourselves. Among the Missing is the best thriller I've read in years.  Stunning and horrific, gentle yet terrifying, all at the same time. I loved this novel."
—Robert Ellis, author of The Lost Witness

“This beautifully nuanced tale of intertwined lives, loves and losses should be read slowly, the better to savor Morag Joss’s exquisite prose. I tried…but the inexorable ticking of the tightly-wound plot had me racing to the end.”  
—Vicki Lane, author of Under the Skin

“The harrowing collapse of a Scottish bridge links three lost souls as they lurch toward an even more horrifying finale….Joss builds the relationships among her sad trio slowly, through excruciatingly subtle modulations of tone.  But the ending fully justifies every intimation of imminent doom.”  

“Joss’ beautiful, evocative novel is filled with tension and suspense….this is a spectacular psychological thriller.”  
—Romantic Times Book Review

About the Author

Morag Joss is the author of several novels, including the CWA Silver Dagger winner Half Broken Things, which was also adapted as a film for U.K. national television. In 2008 she was the recipient of a Heinrich Böll Fellowship, and in 2009 she was nominated for an Edgar Award for her sixth novel, The Night Following. She is currently at work on her eighth novel, Our Picnics in the Sun, to be published by Delacorte Press.

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Customer Reviews

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2.0 out of 5 stars A Depressing Tale of Three Outcasts Aug. 24 2011
By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
"Among the Missing," by Morag Joss, concerns several different characters whose lives intertwine in the course of events: There's Ron, recently released from prison after serving time for his part in causing the deaths of several children and a pregnant woman; he was driving a bus filled with school-children and their teachers when he somehow fell asleep and crashed the vehicle. There's Silva, an illegal immigrant living in a run-down trailer near Inverness, Scotland, with her husband Stefan and 2-year-old daughter Anna, constantly fearful of being caught and sent back to her country. And there's a first-person character whose name is never given until she comes up with an alias, "Annabel," who has married late and just discovered that she's pregnant; when she tells her new husband, his reaction is essentially either you abort and stay with me, or you have the kid on your own, so she leaves. The three find themselves thrown together when a bridge spanning the river near Silva's trailer suddenly collapses, killing numerous people who were unfortunate enough to be driving on the span at the time. How the three of them cope with their altered lives, and how they help or hinder each other is the meat of the story, as the evolution of their dependence on each other slowly unfolds....I like Morag Joss a lot, she's an excellent writer of suspenseful, psychological stories, but I really hated this one. I hated what she put the characters through, especially "Annabel," and I completely disbelieved the sudden turnaround in the reasoning and behaviour of Silva, although I suppose a psychotic episode is meant to explain it. It didn't help that I live in Montreal, a city on an island in the middle of the large St. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uh, did I miss the last chapter or something? Dec 15 2011
By Viva Poodles - Published on
I listened to the audiobook, and enjoyed it overall. Interesting characters and pretty good plot. But what the heck happened to the ending?
SPOILER ALERT. Silva comes unhinged and takes the baby to the middle of the river with the intention of drowning them both. Annabel is bleeding--"too much blood"--on the shore after delivery. At the last minute, Silva makes a call to Ron, saying... well, we never find that out, but Ron does come to the rescue, with Annabel's estranged husband in tow. He apparently rescues Silva and the baby, and the last thing Annabel hears are male voices and people sloshing ashore. The end.
Now, I don't require that stories be tied up in a bow at the end; some ambiguity is fine. But I would have liked to know a little more! Annabel could have had some conflict about Ron vs Colin, and that could have been left unresolved... but did she live or die, for heaven's sake? Does Silva come back from the brink? Has Ron's relationship with the two women changed him so he is able to live in the world, or does he just fade back into the night?
If the author is setting up for a sequel, that's kind of a cheap trick. And if not, couldn't she have written one more chapter?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Among the Missing Oct. 12 2011
By Ashley Wintters - Published on
A bridge filled with cars collapses in Scotland. The vehicle license plates are captured on film. Few people escape, some are found dead and the rest presumed dead, but are in reality `missing.' This unfortunate incident entwines the lives of three very different people.
One of the missing is Annabel. Newlywed and pregnant, she uses the opportunity to escape from a husband who has no desire to let her keep her baby. Ron, recently out of prison for an `accident' and has no one to turn to. Silva, an illegal immigrant who is waiting for her husband and daughter to return and fearing it may never happen.
The three are brought together because of tragedy and focus on Annabel's baby. As the story progresses, each of their true characters show through as well as their deceit. Each has their own hidden secrets and agenda!
This is an interesting look at human character. This book will stay with you for a long time to come.

Reviewed by Ashley Wintters for Suspense Magazine
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Missing July 20 2011
By Callas - Published on
I must declare at the top of this review that I am a huge fan of Joss's work and therefore familiar with all of her books, but the brilliance of "Among the Missing" is breathtaking. She is at the very top of her powers and it is thrilling to be taken on such a wonderful, terrifying and deeply moving journey by such a confident writer. It is not just the characters who are presented with the possibilities of another existence, a new identity, for this reader couldn't help but imagine what advantages or disadvantages could be presented if I, too, had been caught up in such a catastrophe. In Scotland, a bridge collapses into the roaring river below, taking with it unknown numbers of people driving across, the hazy details captured on a CCTV camera, We follow two women from entirely different worlds, both existing on the fringes of society; they would never have met if it had not been for the disaster. They are eventually joined by Ron, a boatman and form an alliance, a family. This book explores the whole experience of identity in a mesmerising, twisting, thrilling tale; I must resist the temptation to tell more about the plot - just READ IT!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joss is as haunting as ever... May 14 2011
By Kristi - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I forgot to review this book right after I finished it. With some books, that would have been a problem ("er, what was it that happened again, exactly?") However, this, like the other books by Morag Joss, is one that sticks with you. That's good, because it was a good book, but, well, you're never quite rid of them, either...

This book charts the intersection between an illegal immigrant family and a middle-aged woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The lives of all are intertwined when a Scottish bridge collapses, destroying one family and creating a new one.

The writing is haunting, evocative and almost poetic at times. Joss has a tremendous gift for taking an unlikely scenario and making it seem not only plausible but downright historical -- you're surprised to remember that this didn't really all happen.

A very well-written book, with an ending twist that one can't possibly review, which is frustrating, as I would so like to know what other readers thought!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Collapsing bridge among collapsing lives May 17 2011
By Ann Elliot - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Morag Joss has created an interesting class of characters for her novel. They are among the homeless, not because of addiction or mental illness, but as a result of an inability to cope with events in their lives. Her description of the difficulties of such a way of life rings true and her writing style adds a lyric quality to the squalor.

The story is told in very short chapters rotating among the two women (in first person) and a man (presented in third person). Why the disparity, I wonder? Was Joss uncomfortable writing in the voice of a man or was Ron merely more taciturn and less introspective than the women? I had difficulty, at times, deciding which woman was speaking until a few sentences into a chapter. Sometimes the same scene is repeated to give two characters a chance to report the action and reiterate the same spoken words. The first part of the book dragged along slowly.

Joss paints careful pictures of the setting -- the slope of the land, position of the trees, arrangement of scree on the beach, and location of industrial garbage. She also describes the location of small towns, bridges and rest stops in the area. I could keep none of it in my head. Finally, I stopped trying to visualize the images she was creating.

* A caveat and SEMI-SPOILER: We have a newborn at my house, so my powers of concentration can not be called "keen" at this point. I think, however, I would write the same review even if I had been getting enough sleep. In addition, the three characters have each had a life-defining incident involving the death of a child or children. I found that aspect disturbing, in light of my personal situation. If the description of the book had included that information, I probably would not have read the book.
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