One cold March morning, a removal van arrives at Tornley Hall in Suffolk. Will and Hannah Riley have been waiting a long time to adopt, and Hannah is obsessed that this new ‘dream’ family home in Tornley, will improve their chances with social services. She has given up her career at a human rights organisation, and persuaded a reluctant Will to give up their flat in London. Yet as Will starts to commute back to work, heavy snow arrives. Hannah finds herself cut off from the world in this tiny, isolated hamlet. As she paints over the cracks in the abandoned old house, trying to ignore its reflection of the recent change in her once-happy marriage to Will, the house starts to reveal unexpected secrets to her. Rooms are locked. Intruders break in. There are strange noises and shadows at night. When Hannah witnesses an assault on a vulnerable woman in a neighbouring field, she starts to realise that everything in Tornley is also not what it seems. She has to make a choice. Tell the police, and risk her social worker becoming suspicious about the safety of Hannah and Will’s new home; or cover up the crime, to get what she wants. Hannah makes her choice. Then just as their social worker is due to visit to approve their new home, a shocking turn of events takes place that rips Hannah’s world apart. Before she knows it, she is alone, frightened, and trapped in a place where no one ever goes . . .
In this intriguing psychological thriller from British author Millar (Accidents Happen), Hannah and her musician husband, Will, move from London to a remote Suffolk village. Hannah feels an enormous amount of pressure to get the house in order quickly, because her hopes of adopting a child turn on a bureaucrat's approval of her new home. When Will heads back to London for work, Hannah winds up snowed in, with spotty cell service. Over a wintry few days, she begins to realize that the villagers are "hiding something" about a local woman named Elvie. Meanwhile in nippy London, Will, a particularly sympathetic and nuanced character, wonders if living with Hannah "in the middle of nowhere" is for him. Can Hannah get to the bottom of the Elvie mystery without jeopardizing her dreams of family life? Her obsession with the adoption is at times laid on with a heavy trowel, but that is a small flaw in a generally emotionally compelling novel.