This is the book (which is not a crime novel) that began Ian Rankin's phenomenal career. Mary Miller is an outcast, believed by some to have occult powers, and is the mother of a bastard son, Sandy. Mary finds herself caught up in a faltering affair with a local schoolteacher while Sandy falls in love with a strange gypsy girl. As the action moves towards a tense and unexpected climax, both mother and son are forced to come to terms with the past, in the growing knowledge that their small dramas are being played out against a much larger canvas, a drama glimpsed only in symbols and flickering images of decay and regrowth, of fire and water, of the flood.More
"It wouldn't take a Rebus to sleuth out the telltale signs of a talent in the making." (The Times)
"Full of secrets and revelations, with an atmospheric sense of time and place, it has Rankin's signature darkness." (Choice)
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