For now it’s called ….
Hidden amongst them.
How far will a mother go to protect her child and at what cost?
In the closing days of summer 1978 the body of 16-year old Natalia Jackson-Garcia is found just metres from her family’s holiday home in a small bay in the Coromandel on New Zealand’s East Coast.
On his first day on the job senior sergeant Adam Banner is the one who discovers the body. The police quickly link the death to a spate of car thefts over the summer holiday they believe are being done by bored youth from the city, staying in the bay for the summer holidays. The police believe Natalia was involved in the thefts and her death was just a terrible accident. Adam isn’t convinced it’s that simple. But time is running out, there are just weeks left to catch the car thieves before school starts and the holiday makers leave the bay taking the young offenders with them. Adam is told to focus on cars but convinced the killer is living amongst them he never gives up his hunt, it’s a case that will take nine years to be solved.
After learning the case is no longer active Natalia’s father struggles with a suffocating grief that drives him from his wife, Maria, and their surviving daughter Gabriella.
Suddenly alone Maria blames her choices in life on the loss of her daughter and husband. She turns her back on her identity and the life she had as she tries to raise her daughter in a small, confined and suffocating but safe world. Trying to build a life in a world she doesn’t fit into Maria tries to move on but can’t.
The Laurent family live off the grid on a neighbouring farm in the bay. Their son Jean-Paul, a medical student, has just returned from volunteering in Cambodia where he was attacked and left for dead. Now home he is still traumatised by nightmares that drive him into the bush for days at a time. He was out the night Natalia was killed and his mother, Sophia, suspects he either saw something or was responsible for the attack. Scared he is involved she takes him away before any questions are asked. But taking him away comes at a cost.
It’s taken two years but Adam is finally at home in the bay although he still doesn’t feel accepted by the locals. Gentle reminders that “they take care of their own” isn’t helping.
1987 – Gabriella is a frustrated 16 -year old who wants a very different life from the one she is living. There has to be a father somewhere, that’s common sense. There was a sister, she’s seen the evidence; the old sneakers and a diary.
Meanwhile, this one is now sitting in a box while I give it some space and consider how the next re-write is going to go.