Meeting Point

Overview

When CSI investigator Claire Watson meets John Rock on holiday, the attraction is instant—but so is the feeling that they've met before. Now uneasy memories from a decade earlier are beginning to surface for Claire: memories of a body found at the bottom of a cliff in Northern Ireland, a possible suicide or, perhaps, a murder. Now, ten years later in the South of France, she has once again encountered the dead woman's husband, the man Claire and her colleagues had believed was ...

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Overview

When CSI investigator Claire Watson meets John Rock on holiday, the attraction is instant—but so is the feeling that they've met before. Now uneasy memories from a decade earlier are beginning to surface for Claire: memories of a body found at the bottom of a cliff in Northern Ireland, a possible suicide or, perhaps, a murder. Now, ten years later in the South of France, she has once again encountered the dead woman's husband, the man Claire and her colleagues had believed was the killer, though they could never pin the crime on him.

But did John's wife really die by his hands? And if he is a cold-blooded murderer, why is Claire so violently attracted to him?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060737917
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/8/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Roisin McAuley is the author of Singing Bird. She joined the BBC in Northern Ireland as a newsreader and announcer, and then became a reporter for the BBC. She has also produced and directed documentaries for British television and programs for BBC Radio. She lives in England.

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Read an Excerpt

Meeting Point
A Novel

Chapter One

My grandparents were runaway lovers. They eloped from Scotland to Northern Ireland in 1937. My great-grandfather considered a butcher's boy from Belfast no match for his daughter.

My grandmother slipped out of the house just before dawn, and ran down the lane to meet my grandfather who was waiting on the road to Stranraer. They ran the mile from the farmhouse to the ferry. My great-grandfather's new Ferguson A tractor could not compete with them. He jumped from it on the quayside and shook his fist in fury at the departing steamer. My grandfather shouted back in triumph, 'She's mine now!'

In 1961, their son—my father—stopped to listen to a Salvation Army band outside Belfast City Hall. He was drawn to the dark curls escaping from the navy blue bonnet worn by a girl playing the cornet. He put a shilling in the collection box and boldly said, 'That's a pretty cornet player. Do you think I could ask her out?'

Dad told me Mum's father looked him up and down. 'Are you God-fearing?'

'I am,' said my father.

'Then you can call at number seven Bavaria Street on Friday evening. She'll be in after six o'clock.'

Dad was so surprised by his own audacity and by the straightforward response, he forgot to ask Mum's name.

As a child, these stories never ceased to charm me.

'Tell me about Granny and Granda,' I would demand. Mum would recite the story again.

'Tell me about meeting Dad.'

'I saw him talking to Daddy, but I couldn't hear what they were saying because of the band. We were in the middle of "Mary's Boy Child".'

I would close my eyes and picture snowflakes drifting from a grey sky, blanketing the formal flower beds outside the city hall, turning the giant Christmas tree into an obelisk of white lace, coating the dome, lying on the tops of the red trolley buses clanking down Royal Avenue, but lasting only moments on the pavement before turning to slush under the feet of the Christmas shoppers.

My mother glances sideways at the tall young man in a Crombie overcoat and tweed cap talking to her father. She has noticed his open appraisal. She finishes a phrase, and lowers the cornet to blow on her hands before raising it to her lips again. A blush warms her cold cheeks.

The story was told so often, detail piled up in my memory like the snow on the city hall. Was it my imagination, or my mother's, that added the snow? It was an exceptionally wet winter. There was no snow. It was probably raining.

'I thought your dad was asking for a favourite carol. People often did that. At least in those days they didn't ask for "Jingle Bells".'

When Mum had recounted the story, I would lean forward, my elbows on the kitchen table, my small fists under my chin, and say, 'Now tell me about Auntie Madge. '

My mother's younger sister found ten half-crowns outside the Crown Bar in Great Victoria Street and handed them into Donegall Pass police station. The coins were unclaimed for a year, after which it was finders keepers. My Uncle Eric, then a young RUC constable, was given the job of returning the coins to Madge.

'You're pretty as well as honest; Eric said to Madge when she opened the door to him. He asked her out on the spot. They were married six weeks later.

These stories conditioned me to expect romance in equally quirky circumstances. So, last summer, when a red convertible roared round a corner and nearly knocked me down, it was inevitably driven by a tall, dark handsome man.

I had heard the drone of the engine, seen a flash of reflected sunlight on the windscreen as the Mustang took the bends below me on the winding road into the mountains, but the blare of the horn, the slide and crunch of wheels on gravel as they skidded behind me, took me by surprise. I half jumped, half fell into the shallow ditch between the edge of the road and the rocky hillside. Sharp stones scraped skin from my palms and my bare knees. My face hit the back of my hands. My ribs hit hard ground and the breath left my body with a whoosh.

A moment of silence. The whine of the engine stopped. The car door slammed. I sucked hot air and dust into my flattened lungs, and rolled, coughing and spitting, on to my side. The cicadas resumed their chirruping.

A torrent of French accompanied the driver's sprint across the road. He scrambled into the ditch and crouched beside me. I must have shut my eyes against the glare of the sun, for I felt his hand on my shoulder. More urgent French.

My eyes felt gritty. I lifted a stinging hand to shield them and blinked twice to focus on the face about a foot's distance from mine. Tanned, smooth-shaven. A wing of dark hair flopped over the rim of his sunglasses. He swept it away with his free hand. The other was shaking my shoulder.

I was suddenly self-conscious, aware of breathing heavily, my face hot. I leaned on my elbow to bum-shuffle myself into a sitting position, pulled my knees towards me, tucked my bruised hands into my armpits, took a deep breath, and said in my schoolgirl French, 'Je ne pane bien francais.'

'Are you all right? Can you wiggle your toes?' He spoke perfect, exasperated English.

'What?'

'Wiggle your toes. It's a good sign if you can wiggle your toes.

He lifted his hand from my shoulder and sat back on his heels as I wiggled my toes.

'What about your head? Did you hit your head?'

'No

'You might have a cracked rib. Can you take a deep breath?'

I took another deep breath. 'I'm fine. Just bruised.'

'You're a tourist.'

Meeting Point
A Novel
. Copyright © by Roisin McAuley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

Meeting Point
A Novel

Chapter One

My grandparents were runaway lovers. They eloped from Scotland to Northern Ireland in 1937. My great-grandfather considered a butcher's boy from Belfast no match for his daughter.

My grandmother slipped out of the house just before dawn, and ran down the lane to meet my grandfather who was waiting on the road to Stranraer. They ran the mile from the farmhouse to the ferry. My great-grandfather's new Ferguson A tractor could not compete with them. He jumped from it on the quayside and shook his fist in fury at the departing steamer. My grandfather shouted back in triumph, 'She's mine now!'

In 1961, their son—my father—stopped to listen to a Salvation Army band outside Belfast City Hall. He was drawn to the dark curls escaping from the navy blue bonnet worn by a girl playing the cornet. He put a shilling in the collection box and boldly said, 'That's a pretty cornet player. Do you think I could ask her out?'

Dad told me Mum's father looked him up and down. 'Are you God-fearing?'

'I am,' said my father.

'Then you can call at number seven Bavaria Street on Friday evening. She'll be in after six o'clock.'

Dad was so surprised by his own audacity and by the straightforward response, he forgot to ask Mum's name.

As a child, these stories never ceased to charm me.

'Tell me about Granny and Granda,' I would demand. Mum would recite the story again.

'Tell me about meeting Dad.'

'I saw him talking to Daddy, but I couldn't hear what they were saying because of the band. We were in the middle of "Mary's Boy Child".'

I would close my eyes and picture snowflakes drifting from a grey sky, blanketing the formal flower beds outside the city hall, turning the giant Christmas tree into an obelisk of white lace, coating the dome, lying on the tops of the red trolley buses clanking down Royal Avenue, but lasting only moments on the pavement before turning to slush under the feet of the Christmas shoppers.

My mother glances sideways at the tall young man in a Crombie overcoat and tweed cap talking to her father. She has noticed his open appraisal. She finishes a phrase, and lowers the cornet to blow on her hands before raising it to her lips again. A blush warms her cold cheeks.

The story was told so often, detail piled up in my memory like the snow on the city hall. Was it my imagination, or my mother's, that added the snow? It was an exceptionally wet winter. There was no snow. It was probably raining.

'I thought your dad was asking for a favourite carol. People often did that. At least in those days they didn't ask for "Jingle Bells".'

When Mum had recounted the story, I would lean forward, my elbows on the kitchen table, my small fists under my chin, and say, 'Now tell me about Auntie Madge. '

My mother's younger sister found ten half-crowns outside the Crown Bar in Great Victoria Street and handed them into Donegall Pass police station. The coins were unclaimed for a year, after which it was finders keepers. My Uncle Eric, then a young RUC constable, was given the job of returning the coins to Madge.

'You're pretty as well as honest; Eric said to Madge when she opened the door to him. He asked her out on the spot. They were married six weeks later.

These stories conditioned me to expect romance in equally quirky circumstances. So, last summer, when a red convertible roared round a corner and nearly knocked me down, it was inevitably driven by a tall, dark handsome man.

I had heard the drone of the engine, seen a flash of reflected sunlight on the windscreen as the Mustang took the bends below me on the winding road into the mountains, but the blare of the horn, the slide and crunch of wheels on gravel as they skidded behind me, took me by surprise. I half jumped, half fell into the shallow ditch between the edge of the road and the rocky hillside. Sharp stones scraped skin from my palms and my bare knees. My face hit the back of my hands. My ribs hit hard ground and the breath left my body with a whoosh.

A moment of silence. The whine of the engine stopped. The car door slammed. I sucked hot air and dust into my flattened lungs, and rolled, coughing and spitting, on to my side. The cicadas resumed their chirruping.

A torrent of French accompanied the driver's sprint across the road. He scrambled into the ditch and crouched beside me. I must have shut my eyes against the glare of the sun, for I felt his hand on my shoulder. More urgent French.

My eyes felt gritty. I lifted a stinging hand to shield them and blinked twice to focus on the face about a foot's distance from mine. Tanned, smooth-shaven. A wing of dark hair flopped over the rim of his sunglasses. He swept it away with his free hand. The other was shaking my shoulder.

I was suddenly self-conscious, aware of breathing heavily, my face hot. I leaned on my elbow to bum-shuffle myself into a sitting position, pulled my knees towards me, tucked my bruised hands into my armpits, took a deep breath, and said in my schoolgirl French, 'Je ne pane bien francais.'

'Are you all right? Can you wiggle your toes?' He spoke perfect, exasperated English.

'What?'

'Wiggle your toes. It's a good sign if you can wiggle your toes.

He lifted his hand from my shoulder and sat back on his heels as I wiggled my toes.

'What about your head? Did you hit your head?'

'No

'You might have a cracked rib. Can you take a deep breath?'

I took another deep breath. 'I'm fine. Just bruised.'

'You're a tourist.'

Meeting Point
A Novel
. Copyright © by Roisin McAuley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting thriller of love and mayhem

    Her long time friend Isabel persuades Claire Watson that the two of them accompanied by her son Sam, his cousin David, and the adults' pal George need to vacation on the French Rivera like Cary Grant did in To Catch a Thief. On her French holiday, Claire meets John ¿Rocky¿ Rock. They are attracted to one another, but as she falls in love, she keeps thinking they met before, but where or when remains initially elusive. --- However, as they spend time together, memories of a decade earlier in Northern Ireland surface of a broken marriage leading to a suicide off the cliffs that some believed was spousal homicide. As George acts jealous and angry, Claire ponders whether her Rocky might be that same killer from ten years ago? --- This character driven fascinating romantic suspense feels like a cross between To Catch a Thief and Suspicion. Claire¿s mixed feelings make for a fine tale as she struggles with her growing love for seemingly kindhearted and charming Rocky while beginning to think he is the same person who got away with murder near her hometown. Fans will enjoy this exciting thriller of love and mayhem in the south of France. --- Harriet Klausner

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