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Down to the Sea

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When secrets from the past won’t stay hidden

When Rona and Craig buy a large Victorian house up from Edinburgh’s Newhaven district – once teeming with fishing boats – they plan to renovate and set it up as a luxury care home. But something is not quite right: disturbing sounds can be heard when the sea mists swirl; their unpredictable neighbour makes it clear that the house was not always a happy family home. And their ‘characterful’ historic pile has a gloomy cellar harbouring relics from days gone by.

Back in the 1890s, superstitious fishwives blame young Jessie for the deaths of their menfolk in a terrible storm, and she’s forced into the Newhaven Poorhouse. In those less enlightened times, life was often severe, cruel even, and Jessie is entirely at the mercy of a tyrant matron. But one inmate is not all she seems. Jessie begins to pick at the truth, uncovering the secrets and lies that pervade the poorhouse – and which will have profound and dangerous consequences in the future.

REVIEWS OF Down to the Sea

"Fascinating… Lawrence’s skill of storytelling allows for the tension to really build throughout." Scottish Field

"Plenty of intrigue, there is much to enjoy here … tension … smart twists … particularly strong descriptions of food and scents … her cast of characters, most of them women, are all distinct individuals." Louise Fairbairn, Scotland on Sunday

"Exciting … With secret tunnels, hidden treasures, plenty of mystery, drama and danger." Portobello Book Blog

"Combines mystery, human interest and a beautifully crafted sense of place … a great read." Wardie newsletter

"Excellent… Intriguing… Full of fear and danger. This page-turning historical novel holds many twists and turns." Historical Novels Review

"Fast-paced and full of fear and intrigue… Creates a sense of unease in the reader that persists right through to the book's satisfying conclusion." Undiscovered Scotland

"A haunting, moving story." Kirsty Wark


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Down to the Sea

About the author

Sue Lawrence

As well as writing two very popular and well-reviewed historical thrillers, The Night He Left and Fields of Blue Flax, Sue Lawrence is one of the UK’s leading cookery writers, with eighteen published cookbooks. Having trained as a journalist in Dundee, she won BBC’s MasterChef in 1991 and became a food writer, regularly contributing to Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday Times and many leading magazines. Born in Dundee and raised in Edinburgh, she now lives near Newhaven in North Edinburgh. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards and a Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award.

Praise for Sue Lawrence’s previous novels:

“Enthralling. It’s a cracking story beautifully told.” Lorraine Kelly

“Lawrence’s parallel plotlines advance in lock-step with each other over alternate chapters, with spooky similarities but also crucial differences, until they’re entwined to great effect towards the end.” Sunday Herald

“A gripping tale.” Daily Record

“A deft mix of vivid storytelling, intriguing mystery and building momentum, skilfully interwoven with the history of the Tay Bridge disaster.” Scottish Field

“Lawrence’s novel is steeped in Scottish history and atmosphere, with twin mysteries as a hook for strong portraits of two women coping with sudden loss.” Sydney Morning Herald