A 10-YER-OLD boy is missing, a family is grieving and a tiny, isolated community on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is being torn apart by suspicion and blame.
Five years ago Max Wheeler disappeared while having an overnight camping adventure alone on Priest’s Island, a speck of private land only a few hundred metres from where his father and three sisters slept securely on their yacht. No trace of Max has so far been found and the police investigation has turned cool, if not entirely cold, yet David Wheeler is certain his son was murdered.
In search of an explanation, ‘sea detective’ Cal McGill has set his sights on mapping the likely route of a body left to ride the fierce currents of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. His methods are innovative and extreme: Cal’s research is conducted using the carcass of a pet pig of roughly Max’s size.
On neighbouring Eilean Dubh (Black Island), Bella MacLeod runs the Deep Blue tearoom and plays surrogate mother to her orphaned niece, Catriona. Bella does not believe a local resident killed the boy; she has sympathy for the Wheelers but is exasperated by their insistence on holding an annual memorial service on the anniversary of his supposed death.
At the other end of Britain, Stanley Pryke’s wife, Linda, is also tormented. Her husband has been deceiving her. The couple has moved house once already in attempt to leave Stanley’s unsavoury predilection behind. Now it seems he’s reverted to type.
Are the disparate lives somehow connected – the Wheelers’, Bella’s and the Prykes’? Do they together hold the key to solving the mystery of Max’s fate? Can Cal’s experiments reveal a link between all three?
Douglas-Home interweaves smalltown insecurities, secrets, loyalties and grudges to perfection against the backdrop of a spectacularly rugged part of the world.