Bolton (A Dark and Twisted Tide, 2014, etc.) offers three different tellings of much the same tale, set in the stark beauty of the remote Falkland Islands.
Catrin Quinn’s job at Falkland Conservation is to protect the sea life in the Falklands’ fragile ecology. Why would her goal, her passion, lie in nursing a plan to kill her former best friend, Rachel Grimwood? The answer unfolds in three strands. As Catrin glides among the fur seals and pilot whales, she reveals the unending source of her pain: her two young sons, Ned and Kit, left alone in a car parked on a cliff, fell to their deaths in the same sea whose wildlife she now protects. Her ex-husband, Ben, has moved on, remarried, and started a second family. Only her former lover Callum Murray, a Scottish soldier who came to defend the Falklands during the Argentine invasion, understands who Catrin has become. In his narrative, he tries to woo Catrin back into the world. In spite of his own struggles with PTSD, he tempts her into the hero’s role, searching for a toddler who’s gone missing from a tour-boat holiday. But trying to save another mother’s child provides scant relief for Catrin, who trains her sights ever more narrowly on Rachel, the woman who left Ned and Kit in the vehicle that became their coffin. Bolton leaves it to Catrin’s intended victim to bring her story home, but Rachel’s narrative lacks the bite of the earlier two.
In the end, what might have been a searching look into the fine line between mishap and crime ends in a cascade of improbability.