The Hunger Trace
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The sudden death of David Bryant, the charismatic owner of a rambling Derbyshire wildlife park, leaves an indelible mark on three very different people. David's young widow, Maggie, struggles to preserve the park and to forge friendships untainted by the suspicions of others. His old friend Louisa, a falconer who lives on the grounds, just wants to be left alone with her hawks and the dark secret she has shared with David since their youth. Meanwhile, Christopher, David's eccentric teenage son from an earlier marriage, strives for a life beyond the park and trawls the internet for a woman who shares his family values. With the arrival of a stranger, and unforeseen disaster amid the worst rains for a hundred years, the loyalties of Maggie, Louisa and Christopher will be stretched to breaking point, and each must face the decisions which will define them...
conventions. It was in this lowly social state that she came across David Bryant. Their schools were separated by gender, the icy hip of the A-road, and a field containing five magnificent Herefords, including a shaggy, horned bull. The lazy bulk of the cows made the trees and cars look small from where Louisa spent her lunchtimes – in the hilltop outwoods beyond the school fence. One morning in December, whilst playing truant, she saw a group of six boys approach the field in their dark green
and heard running water. She found Maggie in the bathroom. The door was open, and Maggie was dabbing awkwardly at the scratches with cotton wool, her dressing gown pulled down to the elbow. The place smelled of TCP. ‘Ouch,’ Louisa said, startling Maggie. ‘You need a hand with that?’ ‘No, ta. I think someone else would be too delicate.’ ‘Not something I’m known for,’ Louisa said. She stood on the threshold for a moment, unsure of whether to enter the bathroom until Maggie half-turned. Louisa
believe I didn’t think of it before,’ Maggie said. ‘Robin Hood and the eighties! My friend back home used to fancy the absolute nuts off Michael Praed.’ Christopher took some beers from the kitchen, while Maggie set up the DVD. Hail and rain lashed the windows as they sat down. ‘It just adds to the pagan atmosphere,’ Christopher said. The DVDs were not in order, but Christopher did not mind. He could not look away from the screen. Sherwood was eerie, and reminded him of how he felt in his own
not speak in the van, and did not look at him. His evident fear awoke no compassion in her; the sleeping tablets made her separate. Christopher looked at the luggage. ‘Erm. I’ve got a suitcase like that. Are you going on holiday?’ ‘No.’ ‘Is it just a natural barrier against me and my wandering hands? I can understand that. Erm. Where’s Adam? Have you made up? Erm, I hope I haven’t created a triangle. Where are we going?’ She did not answer. They hissed along the tree-lined roads, past the
turning up claiming to be your half-brother. He thought of the woods back home. They were lush and junglish in the rain. With all the things Robin Hood stole, he could have redistributed the wealth and still had enough left over to settle in a decent castle. But he didn’t. Sometimes it felt good just to knock the walls down and get to somewhere that’s been there forever. Christopher rose from the bed. He had not removed his clothes, just rolled his sleeves up to let his itchy forearms get some