The Tally Stick

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Carl Nixon

A compulsive and chilling novel about subjugation, survival and the meaning of family. The car containing the four sleeping children left the earth. From the top of the wooded bluff, where the rain-slick road had curved so treacherously, down to the swollen river at the base of the cliff, was easily sixty feet. There was no moon that night, only low, leaden cloud clogging the sky. As if suspended, the car hung in the air for a fraction - of a fraction - of a moment . . .

John Chamberlain has brought his family to New Zealand from the UK. Before he starts his new job, he takes them on a driving holiday. The car skids over the road and hurtles off a cliff. The year is 1978. In 2010 the remains of John's older son have been discovered in a remote part of the West Coast, showing he lived for four years after the family disappeared. Found alongside him are his father's watch and what turns out to be a tally stick, a piece of wood scored across, marking items of debt. How had he survived and then died? Where was the rest of his family? And what did the tally stick signify?