The Mysteries

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
A twenty-eight-year-old writer bursts onto the scene with this virtuoso debut novel in which a woman’s disappearance unlocks the dark secrets of a small town

“Secrets had a way of growing inside you. It became difficult to breathe sometimes, a struggle in the company of other people to pretend that all was well. Mike would never forgive her if he knew what she’d done.”
– from The Mysteries

With literary finesse and an assured eye for the complexities of our most human desires and failings, Robert McGill has created a multi-layered, utterly engaging novel set in a small Ontario community in which, it seems, everyone has something to hide.

Alice Pederson has been missing for almost two years. Her husband, Mike, and their children must carry on despite grief and the frustrations of a police investigation that has hit a dead end. Then, when remains are found along a nearby shoreline, a series of coincidences emerges: young Daniel Barrie returns suddenly from school in England; local former hockey coach Stoddart Fremlinis arrested in connection with Alice’s murder, then crashes his small plane and escapes across a dark field; Rocket DeWitt, once the town hockey star and among the last people to see Alice alive, abruptly leaves town; Bronwen Ferry, the insurance investigator, pursues Alice’s husband’s claim for reasons of her own; and something out in the bush is making grisly attacks on farm animals. Meanwhile, Native groups are protesting the building of a henge on the grounds of Cam Usher’s wildlife park, an area they know to be a sacred burial site. Adding to the disquiet, an unknown traveller arrives one night carrying a weather-beaten notebook, with instructions to give it only to Alice Pederson.

Weaving back and forth in time, and told from the distinct perspectives ofits cast of memorable and eccentric characters, The Mysteries hums with tension and vividly evokes the tangled web of relationships within a small town. Robert McGill is a hugely talented and inventive new writer who has the ability to draw us into the world he has created and hold us, rapt, until the very last page.

From the Hardcover edition.


“Hello?” she shouted. “Is anybody out there?”

As she moved out of the headlights’ glare, she began to see the shapes of white objects scattered across the dark field. A wheel, a door, a portion of the aircraft’s tail. Dozens of unidentifiable metal pieces. Farther ahead was the...
Read More


“With his first novel, Robert McGill shows himself to be a young writer of remarkable talent and enormous narrative appetites – a storyteller who refuses to keep things straight, and for this produces freshly captivating effects. The Mysteries contains all the hooks and puzzles that its title suggests, but its ambitions don't stop there. It is a work that shows how secrets can bind all of us to a single tragedy, to crimes large and small, and ultimately, to each other.”
–Andrew Pyper, author of Lost Girls and The Trade Mission

From the Hardcover edition.