“Just a castaway, an island lost at sea (oh)!” The latest piece of book marketing to arrive reminds me of that famous 1979 Police song, Message in a Bottle. It didn’t arrive via water – that, I would love to see – but it did come in a rather fetching aqua envelope and if you’ll allow me to be poetic the bubble-wrap protecting it was vaguely reminiscent of sea foam.
But what is in this bottle, and what does it have to say? Has someone written a book based on Sting’s castaway? Sadly, no. But what we do have is publisher Quercus’ big hope for the summer, a book called Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote. You can read the note found in the bottle below and it’ll give a a taste of what the book is about.
The note might give you a sense that the book, released 1 September, is a new example of domestic noir, and you’d probably be correct. A separate letter in the package, from Quercus Fiction publisher Stefanie Bierwerth likens it to Gone Girl, Before I Go To Sleep and The Girl on the Train. It also drops the names Patricia Highsmith, Barbara Vine and Alfred Hitchcock. So, it’s got suspense, a psychological edge, and maybe a bit of you-though-you-knew-him-but-really-you-don’t. To me, the cover kind of says ‘haircut’, though I do love that aqua-ish colour.
The story, it says here, is about Carmen, a young journalist who after two years of marriage suspects that the accidental death of her husband’s lover, the woman he left his first wife and three children for, may not have been an accident at all. She starts investigating the woman’s death and digs up all sorts of secrets and lies. We are promised a pacy novel with great characters and, um… oh yes… surprises. It’s heart-pounding, and for fans of Disclaimer and Apple Tree Yard, says the big barn door publicity card that you hardly ever see these days.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like the sound of it and I’m betting by the cover and the packaging that there’s some kind of watery denouement for either the protagonist, Carmen, or the villain. You could say I’m being dragged along in the Undertow, which reminds me of another song – this time Weezer. “All along the undertow is strengthening it’s hold, I never thought it would come to this, now I can never go home…”
There are some more pics below. Just click the button to pre-order Undertow.
Where do they find envelopes that colour?
The author Elizabeth Heathcote is a journalist who once interviewed Jade Goody about cancer, and who is also addicted to psychological crime fiction.
Here’s a three-quarter shot of the cover, just because.