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Taut, menacing, sinister, gripping, intelligent, action-packed – everything you could want from a thriller.
When ex-LAPD patrol cop Jack Whalen’s wife goes missing on a routine business trip to Seattle, his world is shaken.
Meanwhile, a ten-year-old girl vanishes from a beach in Oregon after an encounter with a sinister stranger – but it gradually becomes clear that she’s very far from defenceless.
Searching for answers in the shadowy secrets of a past that still haunts him, Jack discovers that the truth has roots deeper and darker than he ever feared.
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‘A jaw-dropping mystery that makes a hairpin turn on nearly every page’ Entertainment Weekly
‘A good, taut thriller, with lots of action and a very gripping ending; Marshall takes the reader with him on the investigation with a great deal of guile and style.’ Guardian
‘Devilishly clever ... a tautly crafted page-turner of the highest order.’ Bookpage
‘Bestseller Marshall outdoes his own high standards with this potent blend of suspense, paranoia and just plain creepiness ... a provocative and supremely intelligent thriller’ Publishers Weekly
‘Captures a sense of the menacing inevitable ... one of the more bracingly depressing tales of mystery and terror to have been published in recent years’ Time Out
‘Subtle, satisfying – and really scary.’ Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Michael Marshall:
'A definite page-turner – and a terrifying discourse on the nature of human evil and the darkness among us ... this is as fierce as thriller writing can get.' Guardian
‘The taut pace, crisp style and ever-present sense of menace are those of a top-drawer thriller.’ Telegraph
‘Marshall is a cracker at writing tense, rich scenes.’ Observer
‘Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun in the world of the suspense novel, along comes one hell of a nasty spider called The Straw Men. It’s brilliantly written and scary as hell. Be the first on your block to stay up all night with this one; it’s a masterpiece, reminding us that even paranoids really do have enemies.’ Stephen KingFrom the Author:
Most of your novels are set in America – has this location in particular influenced your writing?
I spent a lot of time in America when I was young, and in a lot of ways it feels as much like home as the UK. I’ve lived in London for a long, long time now, however, and so maybe the US has become the place of my imagination, the realm where I go to make things up, and to dream. I also seem usually to come up with novel ideas that are, at least in part, about America, or at least facets of human nature and experience that are most starkly apparent there — and that’s probably the main reason my novels wind up being set there. Place is a character too.
How much of your life and the people around you do you put into your books?
I’ve never put a particular person into a book — not even myself. But you can’t help being influenced by your own take on the world, and by your observations of those who are both close to you, and strangers. Naturally you then take these raw materials and mix them into new combinations, twisting them into completely different shapes, usually without being aware that you’re even doing it. My books often contain at least a shadowed reflection of what’s going on in my real life — or in my real thoughts — at the time of writing; but real life and fiction are very different things.
You’re renowned for your twists and turns – do your characters ever surprise you?
They surprise me every single time. I start every book thinking I know pretty much how they’re going to behave, and then — bang: suddenly they’re taking their lives (and the book) in unexpected directions. I love it when that happens, despite the extra work and head-scratching and soul-searching it provokes. Real people always surprise us, after all, and the more characters in books do this (while remaining in character, of course) the more likely it is the novel will feel as if its being driven from within, rather than out of the mind of the writer. If I ever write a book where the characters never surprise me, then I’ll throw it away. Immediately.
Do you have a favourite character from your novels?
I’ve spent so much time with each of the main protagonists that they all feel like old friends. Stark from Only Forward came very naturally, as did Ward Hopkins in The Straw Men novels, and John Henderson from Bad Things. But I also really like Bill Raines from that last book, and a lot of others from earlier ones...
Which other writers have inspired you?
Stephen King was the first person who made me really want to write — though Enid Blyton deserves some prior credit there, along with Kingsley Amis and Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse. But there was also Ray Bradbury, and Philip K Dick and Jack Finney, and Martin Amis and Brett Easton Ellis, then Jim Thompson and James Ellroy and James Lee Burke... more recently, Richard Ford and Tobias Wolfe. And in the last few months suddenly there’s Richard Brautigan. There’s always someone new to find — and inspiration has to be kept fresh.
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