Start Reading

Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister

From the author of the Reese’s Book Club Pick and the New York Times bestseller Wrong Place Wrong Time

Start Reading Just Another Missing Person and enter for the chance to win a copy. On sale August 1, 2023


Julia knew from the way Genevieve rushed towards her that something was wrong. She burst through the door of the multi-storey car park, let it swing behind her, a hasty, chaotic slam that pounded the walls. Julia shouldn’t have let her go alone: that was her first thought. She had taken a work call, and Genevieve went to pay for their ticket by herself. And now . . .

‘Mum?’ Genevieve shouted, crossing quickly towards her. She looked haunted white under the strip lights, eyeliner smudged. Eyes panicked, her gaze darting back over her shoulder. Dread began to churn in Julia’s stomach. She could feel her pulse everywhere: in her hands, her legs, her shoulders; her body’s siren call. Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong, thudded her heartbeat.

And then Genevieve indicated with a blood-stained hand behind her. ‘You need to come.’

Part One


First Day Missing

Chapter 1


Julia is trying to work out if the man at the table next-but-one is somebody she has arrested before. He’s ordering a caramel cheesecake, out with a wife and two children, and she’s pretty sure she once charged him with murder. The lighting is low; she just can’t tell.

She is trying not to let her husband and daughter know what she’s seen, eyes down on the menu.

‘Nando’s is cringe these days, isn’t it?’ Genevieve says. Julia smiles at her arch only child.

‘In what way?’ Art says, bristling. Art, after Art Garfunkel, her husband. An English teacher, a pedant, a ditherer, the last man still using semi-colons in text messages. And, until recently, the love of Julia’s life.

The cheesecake arrives at the maybe-murderer’s table. Julia watches him as he looks up. He has two phones, both face down on the table in front of him. A dead giveaway of a criminal. She’s pretty sure it’s him. Something about the brow . . .

‘Oh, just – you know. Cheeky Nando’s and all that. Like, give it a rest,’ Genevieve says. She picks up a menu. She’s in a black halter-neck tucked into high-waisted jeans. Large gold hoop earrings. She looks amazing, but she wouldn’t care if she didn’t. That’s Genevieve all over: she does whatever the hell she likes. Sometimes, Julia is pleased to have raised a strong woman like this. Sometimes less so.

It’s seven o’clock in the evening, and Julia can’t quite believe that she’s here. That nothing came up, that she made it.

‘They do nice chicken,’ Art says mildly, perhaps slightly wounded: it was his choice of restaurant.

The cheesecake is almost finished. John. Julia thinks he’s called John. She glances at him again and slips her phone out. ‘John murder Portishead,’ she types into Google. She’s sure he shouldn’t be out yet. It was a stabbing in the town centre, brutal. He got life, and not that long ago.

The Google search is too wide, too much comes up. Just as she’s considering typing something else, the phone trills: it’s the station.

‘DCI Day,’ the force incident manager says into Julia’s personal mobile – the one she always uses – and that’s when Julia’s heart begins its predictable descent down her chest. ‘High-risk missing person just in,’ he says, and it lands fully at her feet.

Julia sighs. No peri peri chicken, no more banter with Genevieve. Just work. This is the job. This is the job, she repeats to herself. That has become her mantra after twenty years in the police.

After she’s taken the details, she stares at the table. A twenty-two-year-old missing woman. No mental health history. Last seen on CCTV yesterday. Housemates phoned it in when she didn’t come home. Those are the facts.

But sitting behind the facts is something else, she’s sure of it. Something else. Something she can’t yet name. A deep detective instinct tells her so. She shivers there in the dim restaurant.

‘I’ve got to go in,’ she says, just as her food arrives. Steaming corn on the cob, mashed potato, chicken . . . she looks at it longingly.

As she stands, she glances at the maybe-murderer to their left. ‘If you happen to see him leave,’ she says in a low voice to Art and Genevieve, ‘can you get his reg?’

Excerpt from Just Another Missing Person, Copyright © 2023 by Gillian McAllister. All rights reserved.

Just Another Missing Person will be available in bookstores across Canada and online on August 1, 2023

Enter for your chance to win a copy of
Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister

Enter for your chance to win a copy of Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister