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.
©1986 Ian Rankin; © and (P)2005 Orion Publishing Group Ltd.