The book that began Ian Rankin's phenomenal career.
Mary Miller had always been an outcast. Burnt in a chemical mix as a young girl, sympathy for her quickly faded when the young man who pushed her in died in a mining accident just two days later. From then on she was regarded with a mixture of suspicion and fascination by her God-fearing community.
Now, years later, she is a single mother, caught up in a faltering affair with a local teacher. Her son, Sandy, has fallen in love with a strange homeless girl. The search for happiness isn't easy. Both mother and son must face a dark secret from their past, in the growing knowledge that their small dramas are being played out against a much larger canvas, glimpsed only in symbols and flickering images - of decay and regrowth, of fire and water - of the flood.
Ian Rankin is the multimillion-copy worldwide bestseller of over thirty novels and creator of John Rebus. His books have been translated into thirty-six languages and have been adapted for radio, the stage and the screen.
Rankin is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards, including the Diamond Dagger, the UK's most prestigious award for crime fiction. In the United States, he has won the celebrated Edgar Award and been shortlisted for the Anthony Award. In Europe, he has won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the German Deutscher Krimipreis.
He is the recipient of honorary degrees from universities across the UK, is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, and has received an OBE for his services to literature.