Finalist for Trade Fiction at the 2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
Twenty-nine-year-old Natasha Bell went for an evening jog, just like any other night - except now no one knows where she is. Not her sister, Abby - eighteen, eight months pregnant, and without a game plan. Not her childhood sweetheart, now ex-boyfriend, Greg, an introverted academic who could never bring himself to commit. Not her best friend Josie, a newlywed, born-again Christian, with whom Natasha recently had a falling out. And not detective Reuben Blake, who thought this case would be open 'n shut - a quick way to prove himself and move up the ranks. Missing person's statistics suggest Natasha's ex is the primary suspect, but what about the possibility of a stranger abduction? Or the possibility that Natasha left voluntarily or took her own life? What about Natasha's mother, who took off eighteen years before her daughter's disappearance? As days stretch into months and months stretch into years, the evidence that emerges seems only to complicate the picture more. What secrets might Natasha have been keeping? - and, for that matter, her friends and family.
About the author
Theanna Bischoff is a novelist, creative writing instructor, freelance editor, and psychologist from Calgary, Alberta. Her first novel, Cleavage, was shortlisted for both the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Canada/the Caribbean), and the 2009 Re-Lit Awards. Her second novel, Swallow, was shortlisted for the 2012 W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize. Theanna holds a Concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Calgary (2006) and a PhD in Developmental / Educational Psychology (2013). Left is her latest novel.
- Nominated, Best Trade Fiction at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards
Excerpt: Left (by (author) Theanna Bischoff)
What was the last thing you said to me?
Something about the weather.
Not very poignant, but you didn't know. You thought you'd be back in an hour. I could see the orange Lycra straps of your tank top criss-crossed in the back before you pulled your jacket on and opened the front door. The detective asked me later if I remembered what you were wearing. An orange tank top, I told him. Black leggings, black windbreaker.
You wanted to get in a run before it started raining. I could always count on you to know the forecast. You'd say things like, "Put mittens in your backpack, Abby. It's going to snow." Or "Don't forget your sunscreen, Sis!" You were always prepared.
In the doorway, holding one foot behind you in some sort of runner's stretch, you said, "You should rest. Pretty soon you can kiss sleep goodbye. When my niece gets here."
"Or nephew." Sitting on the couch, I shifted my belly, pulled your yellow fleece blanket up to my chin. When my OB/GYN had asked if I wanted to know the gender, I said no. It made it too real. You would have found out. You liked to know everything. When I was seven, you showed me your old Ouija board, rested your fingertips lightly on the plastic dial, and told me about how, when you were a kid, you would try to ask the spirits what you were going to be when you grew up, where and when you'd meet the man of your dreams, how you'd ultimately die. Seven-year-old me asked the spirits if Mom and Dad would let me get a hamster--which they totally didn't, because I'm the daughter who forged Dad's signature to explain my missing homework, who ran myself a bath and then got distracted watching TV and let it overflow, who opened my Christmas presents when our parents weren't looking and then tried to re-wrap them.
A niece. You knew. You knew you knew.
With the front door open, I could see bruised clouds hanging low in the sky, the sun beginning its slow descent for the summer night. I said, "It looks ugly out." Pregnant at eighteen. Maybe I should have asked the Ouija board some more serious questions about my future.
You slid your windbreaker over your shoulders. Smiled. Zipped. Said, "I can outrun this storm. See you in an hour." You turned. Your dark ponytail swung.
Praise for Left
"Left is a story of lost connections ... but it is also a satisfying whodunit."
~ Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star
"... taut and compelling ... Left succeeds in drawing its narrow, dark universe."
~ Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews
"Bischoff's literary talents are uncontested. Left is a well-written and engaging novel that successfully gives substance to the abstract-yet-next-door feeling that violent crime has when you hear of it happening in your community."
~ Jay Smith, Alberta Views