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  • Missing Pieces
  • Written by Joy Fielding
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  • Missing Pieces
  • Written by Joy Fielding
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Missing Pieces

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Written by Joy FieldingAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joy Fielding


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: March 24, 2010
Pages: 432 | ISBN: 978-0-307-57489-3
Published by : Island Books Bantam Dell
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fiction (16) mystery (10) suspense (7) thriller (4)
fiction (16) mystery (10) suspense (7) thriller (4)


How far will a mother go to protect her family from a madman?

An unrivaled master of psychological suspense, Joy Fielding has written her most chilling and intricate novel yet--a compulsively readable look at the razor-thin line between daily domesticity and nerve-shattering terror.

It had to end in blood.  Family therapist Kate Sinclair, healer of lost souls, perfect wife and mother, has suddenly become trapped in a nightmare of her own.  Her teenage daughter has just discovered sex, lies, and rebellion.  Her ex-boyfriend has returned to threaten her marriage.  Her once-peaceful hometown is being awakened by chilling headlines: Another woman is missing.  Kate can sense the darkness gathering around her, can see the mistakes, the missteps, the missing pieces.  She is afraid of what tomorrow will bring.

Enter Colin Friendly, a man on trial for abducting and killing thirteen women--the handsome, "misunderstood" sociopath Kate's troubled sister plans to marry.  Colin loves women to death.  He can't wait to see Kate and the girls again.  One dark night when they are home alone, disarmed, ready for bed...


Another woman is missing.

Her name is Millie Potton and she was last seen two days ago.  According to today's paper, Millie is tall and thin and walks with a slight limp.  She is fifty-four years old, which isn't surprising.  Only women over fifty have names like Millie anymore.

The small article on page three of the local news section of the Palm Beach Post states that she was last seen wandering down the street in her bathrobe by a neighbor, a woman who obviously saw nothing particularly peculiar in the incident.  Millie Potton, the article continues, has a long history of mental problems, the implication being that it is these mental problems that are responsible for her disappearance and are not therefore anything the rest of us have to be concerned about.

Over two dozen women have disappeared from the Palm Beach area in the last five years.  I know because I've been keeping track, not consciously, at least not at first, but after a while their numbers just started adding up, and a vague figure affixed itself to my conscious mind.  The women range in age from sixteen to sixty.  The police have dismissed some as runaways, especially the younger ones, girls like Amy Lokash, age seventeen, who left a friend's house at ten o'clock one evening and was never seen or heard from again.  Others, and Millie Potton will undoubtedly be among them, have been dismissed for any number of indisputably logical reasons, even though the police were wrong about Amy Lokash.

Still, until a body turns up somewhere, stuffed into a garbage bin behind Burger King like Marilyn Greenwood, age twenty-four, or floating facedown in a Port Everglades swamp like Christine McDermott, age thirty-three, there really isn't anything the police can do.  Or so they say.  Women, it seems, go missing all the time.

It's quiet in the house this morning, what with everybody gone.  I have lots of time to tape my report.  I call it a report, but really it isn't anything so clearly defined.  It's more a series of reminiscences, although the police have asked me to be as specific and as orderly as I can, to be careful not to leave anything out, no matter how insignificant--or how personal--something may seem.  They will decide what is important, they tell me.

I'm not sure I understand the point.  What's done is done.  It's not as if I can go back and change any of the things that have happened, much as I'd like to, much as I tried to before they occurred.  But I was just hitting my head against a brick wall.  I knew it at the time.  I know it now.  There are certain things over which we have no control--the actions of others being the prime example.  Much as we may not like it, we have to stand back and let people go their own way, make their own mistakes, no matter how clearly we see disaster looming.  Isn't that what I'm always telling my clients?

Of course, it's much easier to give advice than it is to follow it.  Maybe that's one of the reasons I became a family therapist, although that certainly wasn't the reason I gave on my college entry application.  There, if memory serves me correctly, and it does so with alarmingly less frequency all the time, I listed my intense desire to help others, my reputation among friends as someone to whom they could always turn in times of trouble, my experience with my own dysfunctional family, although the term "dysfunctional" had yet to be coined at the time I entered university way back in 1966.  It's so common now, so much a part of the everyday vernacular, that it's hard to imagine how we managed for so long without it, despite the fact that it's essentially meaningless.  What constitutes dysfunction, after all?  What family doesn't have problems?  I'm certain my own daughters could give you an earful.

So, where to start?  This is what my first-time clients ask all the time.  They come into my office, which is on the third floor of a five-story Pepto-Bismol pink building on Royal Palm Way, their eyes wary, the fingers of one hand chipping at the wedding band on the other, as they perch on the ends of the upholstered gray-and-white chairs, their lips parting in anticipation, their mouths eager to give voice to their rage, their fears, their displeasure, and the first thing that tumbles out is always the same: Where do I start?

Do I start at the very beginning, announce myself like a label stuck to a lapel: Hello, my name is Kate Sinclair?  Do I say that I was born forty-seven years ago in Pittsburgh on an uncharacteristically warm day in April, that I'm five feet six and a half inches tall and one hundred and twenty-five pounds, that my hair is light brown and my eyes a shade darker, that I have small breasts and good legs and a slightly lopsided smile?  That Larry affectionately calls me funny face, that Robert said I was beautiful?

It would be much easier to start at the end, to recite facts already known, give name to the dead, wipe away the blood once and for all, instead of trying to search for motivations, for explanations, for answers that might never be found.

But the police don't want that.  They already know the basic facts.  They've seen the end results.  What they want are details, and I've agreed, as best I can, to provide them.  I could start with Amy Lokash's disappearance, or the first time her mother came to my office.  I could begin with my mother's fears she was being followed, or with the day Sara's teacher called to voice her growing concerns about my daughter's behavior.  I could talk about that first phone call from Robert, or Larry's sudden trip to South Carolina.  But I guess if I have to choose one moment over all the others, it would have to be that Saturday morning last October when Jo Lynn and I were sitting at the kitchen table, relaxing and enjoying our third cup of coffee, and my sister put down the morning paper and calmly announced that she was going to marry a man who was on trial for the murder of thirteen women.

Yes, I think I'll start there.
Joy Fielding

About Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding - Missing Pieces

Photo © David Leyes

“I love hearing that someone stayed up all night to finish one of my books.”

Now a New York Times bestselling author of popular psychological novels, Joy was eight years old when she sent her first story to a magazine. She wrote plays that she and her friends performed for their parents during summer vacation at the cottage. “As a child, I played with cut-out dolls until I was fourteen years old, long past the age when my friends still played with them. I made up elaborate stories with my paper dolls, letting my imagination run wild.” In her last year of high school, her English teacher announced to the class that she was going to be a writer. She loved writing and was a good student. Her mother told her there was nothing she couldn’t do well if she really wanted to do it.

At the University of Toronto, however, Joy decided she wanted to be an actress. She performed in campus productions and starred in the student movie Winter Kept Us Warm. When she graduated in 1966 with a BA in English Literature, she went into acting full-time, played the lead in CFTO’s Rumble of Silence and appeared in Twelfth Night at Stratford; she moved to Los Angeles and landed a role in an episode of Gunsmoke. She also travelled to Las Vegas where she got to kiss Elvis Presley. She stayed there almost three years, acting, working in banks, and starting a novel; but eventually returned to Toronto and her first love, writing. The acting background enriches her novels. “I approach the heroines as if I were a Method actress.” Her theatre training taught her to see scenes, build structure, and “go for the drama”.

Her first novel, The Best of Friends, was written at her parents’ kitchen table within the first five weeks of returning to Toronto. Publishers in both Canada and the U.S. saw potential, and it was published in 1972. Less than ten years and several novels later, Kiss Mommy Goodbye, called a ‘knockout’ by the New York Times, was published all over the world. In 1995, her novel See Jane Run was adapted into a television movie and sold 1.5 million copies in Germany alone. With the publication of The First Time, a love story, and Grand Avenue, which follows the lives of four women over the course of twenty years, she allowed herself the luxury of focusing more on how human relationships develop over time.

She still lives in Toronto but has a house in Palm Beach, where she spends as much time as possible. “I think I have a fairly American sensibility, although this is very much tempered by my Canadian upbringing.” She works on her golf handicap, plays bridge, and travels when she has time. She has been married for 30-plus years and has two daughters, one an actress and the other working behind-the-scenes in film.

She usually writes for four hours each day, after letting ideas percolate in her subconscious for a while. She starts with the characters and a theme, then writes an outline; halfway through, the book usually has its own momentum, although there can be surprises, such as when a minor character ends up having a key role in the book. “That’s always part of the fun: being surprised.” Readers find it easy to relate to and identify with her characters, so developing their background, why they act the way they do, is the most important thing. In spite of their different situations, she tries to put herself into their shoes and thus sees a lot of herself in her main characters.

Fielding’s terrain as a writer is the day-to-day problems facing modern women. Often, her characters are forced to face their worst nightmares, when sudden discoveries change their seemingly untroubled lives. In the suspenseful Don’t Cry Now, a woman with a rewarding job, happy marriage, and large suburban home finds her secure world crashing around her when her three-year-old daughter’s safety is threatened. A destructive ex-husband leaves a woman in terror when he kidnaps their children in Kiss Mommy Goodbye. Seemingly fragile heroines face the challenge of a lifetime, and often fight back ferociously.

Although her primary concern is telling a good story, she consciously tries to raise awareness of issues that affect women’s lives, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment, disease and infidelity. “Occasionally, I get letters from professional social workers and doctors, telling me that they’ve used or recommended my books to their patients.” Showing how a character deals with a situation is often more effective than giving people advice on things they’re afraid to confront. As a popular author she would like to help show people why they do things, understand each other’s fears, and become more compassionate.

She is also committed to creating more believable female characters in commercial fiction. “I think I’m successful at depicting real women because I understand women, mostly because I understand myself quite well… You can tell a pretty fantastic tale, but if you populate it with real people feeling real emotions, your readers will follow you anywhere.” She appeals to people of all ages from teenagers up, and though set mostly in American cities, her books are sold in more than twenty languages all over the world. “It strikes me increasingly that as long as one is writing about the basic human emotions we all share, then it doesn’t really matter where one is from.” Although most of her readers are women, she recommends her books to men – especially if they want to understand what women want.

Publishers Weekly has regularly called her books perceptive and affecting. Of Whisper and Lies it writes: “An ending worthy of Hitchcock rewards readers able to weather the false clues and emotional angst of Fielding's latest page-turner. Once again, the bestselling author…tests the complex ties that bind friends and family, and keeps readers wondering when those same ties might turn deadly.” Of Mad River Road: “Packed with breathless twists and turns, Fielding's latest set of women in jeopardy excite and delight.”

Her latest novel, Heartstopper, was released in 2007 to rave reviews. According to Booklist, “Fielding crafts a suspenseful plot, with a stunner of a twist, while giving her characters a depth of humanity not frequently found in formula fiction. Exciting and unexpectedly touching reading from the talented Fielding.”


"Fielding knows how to turn the screws of suspense."
--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Honest, strong narration [drives] this novel of a family in turmoil to its bloody if redeeming resolution."
--Publishers Weekly

"Fielding has made the woman-in-jeopardy genre her own."

"An excellent piece of psychological suspense."
--Toronto Star

"Nightmarish...Fielding turns up the heat."
--Kirkus Reviews

A main selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club

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