Still Mine

Still Mine

by Amy Stuart

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501151231
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 08/16/2016
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 252,323
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Amy Stuart’s debut novel Still Mine was an instant national bestseller. Nominated for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award, and winner of the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition, Amy’s writing has previously appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada. Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and her three sons. Still Water is her second novel. Visit her at AmyStuart.ca or @AmyFStuart.

Read an Excerpt

Still Mine


  • With the moonless sky, Clare doesn’t see the mountains closing in. But then the road begins to rise and she knows she’s driving through the foothills, then come the switchbacks and the hum and pop in her ears, and finally the peaks and shadows, blank spots in the ceiling of stars. By dawn the mountains crowd the long vista of her rearview mirror, she is deep among them, and Clare guesses she’s covered nearly six hundred miles since sunset.

    Drive west into the mountains, Malcolm said. Then cut north to Blackmore.

    Clare climbs one last hairpin turn before signs of life pepper the roadside, peeling billboards first, then a scattering of ramshackle buildings. Her car lurches and revs, the ascent of this narrow road too much for its old engine. She passes a sign hammered right into rock: WELCOME TO BLACKMORE: POPULATION 2500, the word zero spray-painted across it in black. The road flattens out and Clare reaches the row of storefronts that marks the town proper. Most of them are shuttered with plywood, the main strip devoid of cars and people.

    Beyond the lone stoplight Clare finds the motel. She turns in and parks. Weeds grow through cracks in the asphalt, the motel L-shaped and bent around an empty swimming pool, its neon sign unlit. The barrenness washes over Clare, eerie and surreal, like a movie set built and then abandoned. Panic cuts through her, a grip tight around her chest, the coffee she’d picked up at a gas station hours ago still whirring through her veins.

    The folder Malcolm gave Clare sits on the passenger seat. She flips it open. On top is a news article dated ten days ago: “Blackmore Woman Missing Since Tuesday.” Next to the text is a grainy photograph of a gaunt and unsmiling woman named Shayna Fowles. Clare examines the photo. They are roughly the same age, their hair the same deep brown, their skin fair, alike in certain features only. Is she imagining the resemblance, imposing herself on this woman?

    This is your job, Malcolm said. You will go to Blackmore. See what you can find.

    The car fills with the dampness of the outside air. Clare leans back against the headrest and closes her eyes. She thinks of Malcolm across from her in that diner booth, sliding the folder over to her, his own meal untouched. She had wanted only to get away from him, and Blackmore was the option on offer. Now she must gather herself up, muster the nerve to introduce herself to strangers, tell them her name, or at least the name Malcolm chose for her. Clare grips the dewy handle of the car door and lifts her backpack. Though she hasn’t worn her wedding ring in months, her finger still bears its dent.

    Time to go.

    At the motel reception Clare rings the bell once, then again when no one comes. She can hear the muffled din of a TV. Behind the desk the room keys hang in a neat row. Black mold snakes around the windows and patches the carpet in the corners.

    “Hello?” Clare’s voice barely rises above a whisper.

    Nothing. In her exhaustion, Clare cannot decide what to do next. At dawn, she’d pulled in to a lakeside rest area, walking straight past the picnic tables and the outhouse, wading thigh deep into the lake, catatonic, transfixed by the vast, jagged landscape of snow-peaked mountains. A foreign land. She’d hoped to take a warm shower. Malcolm told her about this motel. Clare slams her hand down hard on the bell.

    The door at the far end of the office opens. A man in his sixties peers through, wiping his mouth with a napkin.

    “We look open to you?” He tosses the napkin over his shoulder.

    “The door was unlocked.”

    “We’re closed.”

    The man is gray haired and rosy cheeked. An old family portrait hangs on the wall to his right, a younger version of him the beaming father to two red-haired boys, his hand resting proudly on his pretty wife’s shoulder.

    “If the rooms are still standing,” Clare says, “maybe I could just—”

    “I’m closed.”

    Clare nods.

    “I’ve never seen you before,” he says.

    “I’ve never been here before.”

    “You a reporter?”

    “No.”

    “A cop?”

    “No. I’m not a cop. I’m just here to see the mountains.”

    “Huh. Right.”

    “I take pictures.”

    “Pictures. Of what?”

    “Landscapes, mostly. Anything off the beaten track.”

    “No one around here likes getting their picture taken,” he says, his voice flat.

    “Like I said. Landscapes. Not people.” Clare pauses. “Is there another place in town I could stay?”

    “No.”

    Clare gropes through her bag for her car keys. Just arrived and already she’s failed at her first task. This motel might have been busy once, when Blackmore was still a bustling mining town, when there were jobs for everyone, money to go around, people to visit. Maybe this man’s sons had been miners. Maybe they were underground five years ago when the mine blew up and killed three dozen of Blackmore’s men. Clare detects a slight softening in the motel owner, his shoulders relaxing. He peels himself off the wall and approaches the desk.

    “We had a bad melt in the spring,” he says. “All twenty rooms flooded. I’ve barely had a customer in months. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t help you.”

    “It’s okay,” Clare says. “I’ll figure something out.”

    “There are plenty of mountain towns. You could pick another one.”

    “I could,” Clare says.

    Already her story feels like too much of a ruse, arriving in Blackmore alone and unannounced. On the drive she’d anticipated the questions the attendant just asked of her. Who are you? Why are you here? She’d rehearsed her answers. She and Malcolm had been hasty in picking photography as her cover, the one skill in her thin repertoire now ringing false on delivery. The attendant walks around and props the door open to usher her out.

    “Turn around,” he says. “Drive back down the hill. That’s my advice.”

    Clare retraces her steps to the car. The mountains are cloaked in low clouds, Blackmore’s main road fogged from view. She hears the bolt of the office door behind her. Clare knew full well the reception here would be cold. She grew up in a small town beset by the same woes as Blackmore. She remembers the way her neighbors closed rank when strangers turned up, all prying eyes unwelcome. Who knows what the motel owner sees when he looks at Clare? Maybe he knew Shayna Fowles, maybe his sons were friends with her. Maybe it rattles him, one woman gone missing and another turning up out of nowhere, a stranger in his midst.

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    Still Mine 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Once you start your can't stop reading. The author does a great job of making the reader doubt everyone .
    Jill Jemmett More than 1 year ago
    This is a great thriller. I found the beginning of this story a little slow. There was a lot happening, but I didn’t feel invested in the character of Clare. I wanted to know more about her and how she ended up investigating Shayna’s life. There was plenty of information about Shayna and the town, but not enough about Clare to make me feel connected to her. There were twists throughout the story. Clare was a unreliable character, so she was usually unpredictable. She made bad decisions, though sometimes she just had to make the best of the situation she was in. I really had no idea what happened to Shayna. Everyone in town had a motive to hurt her, including the possibility that she harmed herself or left. But I figured she didn’t just walk away because that wouldn’t make for a very interesting ending. I really enjoyed this story. I can’t wait to read the sequel Still Water.
    Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
    Clare has run away from her husband and her awful past. She escaped months ago, but knows her husband won't stop looking for her. She has an assignment, looking for Shayna Fowles, a woman who disappeared from her hometown, Blackmore. Clare has to ask questions about someone she doesn't know, but does have a connection with. Blackmore's inhabitants are far from helpful, but Clare has found a way to fit in. This will mean she has to take a huge risk though. Will she be able to find out what happened to Shayna and will the sacrifices she has to make for the sake of information be worth it? Still Mine is a dark story with an oppressive atmosphere. Clare is a woman of contradictions. She's brave, but she is scared, she's strong, but she is weak, she's curious, but doesn't want to acknowledge the truth and she's daring, but she is a coward at the same time. This makes her incredibly interesting. I didn't always like her, I didn't approve of a lot of her actions and I regularly wanted to talk some sense into her, but she's also a vulnerable person who needs protection and I kept hoping she'd find someone friendly enough to put her wellbeing first. This makes fascinating reading and I loved the ambiguous feelings I had while reading her story. Still Mine isn't a standard whodunit. It's more of a psychological journey with many bumps in the road. Amy Stuart writing is beautiful, which is a strange contrast to her raw subject matter. Her story is about a main character that can't entirely be trusted. Clare isn't the most reliable person, but she also has goodness in her and her susceptibility unfortunately makes her the perfect victim for the kind of complicated problems she's getting sucked into. I loved how Amy Stuart plays with her behavior, she certainly made me think, I felt frustrated on Clare's behalf and I was curious to find out more about Blackmore and its many unlikable inhabitants. I loved her original approach of suspense and think she's written a terrific story with plenty of drama, despicable people and unfortunate accidents.
    onemused More than 1 year ago
    "Still Mine" is a psychological thriller and mystery that begins slow and gets progressively faster. Clare is on the run from her abusive husband who has always promised to track her down if she left him- it seems her only option of truly escaping him was her death or his. Growing up in a small town, the police all knew her husband and she had no way out. Her own struggles with drug addiction also kept her back and dependent. She has finally left when her husband sends someone to track her down. Malcolm Boon looks for missing people. Instead of turning Clare in, he hires her to help him find his next case, a missing woman named Shayna. Shayna's life, in many ways, reflects Clare's former life. They both live in small towns, struggle with their marriages and drugs, and have little to no hope of escaping the future that seems ordained for them. In her search to learn more, Clare blends into the town and begins to "fit in" there as if it were the town she had also grown up in. As the book progresses, we pick up more and more clues about Clare's life as well as Shayna's. It all leads to a really intense finale that will lead you hoping for more. I can easily see this becoming a series (and I hope it will be), because even though some plot lines were wrapped up, others are just beginning. Malcolm and Clare could easily be featured in more books to continue their storylines plus look for missing people. It would be a really fantastic series (which I would hope is already in the works?). Clare is a character that, although flawed, is easy to like and understand. She's quick on her feet and courageous (which sometimes comes off as reckless). She was a great pick from whose perspective to tell the story, and I am hoping her story won't end here. Overall, it was a really intense but well written and captivating mystery/thriller. Please note that I received this book through a goodreads giveaway. All opinions are entirely my own.
    CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
    Everyone in this novel was desperate for something. Clare was desperate to get away from her husband, Malcolm desperate to find Shayna, Charlie desperate to sell his drugs, and so on. Each character had their own thing going on. The town of Blackmoor is dying out, there is nothing left living in the town, yet there were friendships, relationships, and mysteries still going strong. I really enjoyed watching Clare make “friends” in Blackmoor yet I kept my eyes open for the motivation behind these friendships. With each person she met I made a guess as to who they really were and what their motive for talking to Clare could be. There were places in this book that I wasn’t sure whose story I was reading. I plugged through and by the time I got to the end of the chapter I had a better idea of the story I was reading. Clare and Shayna’s story was almost interchangeable at times and I believe that was where my confusion came from. Maybe that was some of the pull of the story for some, for me, I like to know who I am reading about. Still Mine is definitely a psychological thriller. I was pulled in and didn’t find my way out until the very last page. If you are looking for a great book that will keep you guessing I definitely recommend picking it up.
    MaureenST More than 1 year ago
    I have mixed feelings about this story, while I felt I was missing something, and not understanding what was going on, I felt compelled to keep turning pages, The words flew off the pages, and the book was read in no time at all. Clare is running from an abusive husband, how abusive you are about to find out, and I had the feeling that if he finds her he will kill her. The man he hires to find her, Malcolm is good at his job and has her in his sight in no time, but he soon has her working for him? She ends up in a small, really small mine town, and looks like a missing woman from there, a town that is really broken, from a mine disaster and drugs. What a place for her to end up in with her drug problem, but it appears she has not choice. We visit with the mother of this girl, a person in the throes of dementia, rational at times, but lost. The mother talks of seeing her daughter yesterday, but did she, or the dementia talking. Keep reading, you really won’t be able to stop once you start, an explosive end and surprises, and we end on the biggest surprise of all. I received this book through the Publisher Simon and Shuster and was not required to give a positive review.