She thought his death would destroy her … but his return was far worse
Nancy is a jaded script editor, working on a modern reworking of Frankenstein. She’s swapping a busy London life for a much quieter existence on an isolated island, off the west coast of Scotland. The slate island of Langer is a beautiful but stark place, especially in the middle of a freezing winter. It has a tiny population, one pub, one shop and a strange slate church with eccentric unsettling services. The move is a drastic change in lifestyle for Nancy, but she’s with Calder, the love of her life, the one person she can truly trust. She’s focussed on their new beginning, but is increasingly unnerved by the desolate island, its mysterious inhabitants and Calder’s dark past there, which he’s kept hidden from her.
Then the worst thing imaginable happens. Nancy finds Calder floating in the icy sea in front of their cottage. He’s just cold, dead weight. But the paramedic transporting the body, whispers to her ‘you’re not dead, till you’re warm and dead’. Calder has had a heart attack in freezing temperatures, so his brain and organs require much less oxygen than usual to remain viable. A (real) cutting-edge treatment brings him back to life six hours later. Calder’s recovery is hailed as a miracle and is splashed across the papers: FRANKENSTEIN LIVES!
Nancy is initially ecstatic. But then she discovers that there is something even worse than the death of the love of her life. Him coming back, but changed. When she looks into his eyes now, she doesn’t recognise him. He looks the same but now he’s cold and distant. He’s not her Calder anymore. When he’s fit enough to leave the hospital, Nancy is terrified that she’s returning home with a total stranger. And when they walk back into their cottage, their cat, who previously adored Calder, hisses and rears back in horror. Nancy is terrified to see that it too knows he’s not the real Calder.
The murder of an islander leads to the discovery of previous murders on the island. The close-knit community has no resident police presence and seems to be a law unto itself. The one church is decorated with slate and has a famous slate altar. The pastor preaches the necessity of seeking forgiveness. At every service, the congregation write their sins on pieces of slate in chalk and their words are ceremonially washed away, then the slates smashed. But what dark secrets are the islanders keeping? And what secrets pushed Nancy and Calder to give up their London lives to move to this remote island? Slate is a strong substance used on roofs, but once broken it can never be put back together. Can Calder and Nancy’s seemingly unbreakable relationship withstand the pressure of all these secrets?
As secrets, lies and bodies wash up on the island, Nancy must come to terms with the fact that, despite the fresh start, sometimes the slate can never be wiped clean.
‘A brilliant, hair-raising premise gives way to something even more chilling in this gorgeously gothic tale that is both skilfully crafted and relentlessly addictive.’
Novels include Little Face, Haven’t They Grown and the new Poirot novels
‘The Saved is the very epitome of a compulsive read. The combination of a killer premise, fantastic writing and characterisation and an unsettling island church with echoes of The Wicker Man, meant I devoured this thriller. Liz expertly wrong foots the reader in a way that had me turning the pages to discover the truth. Highly recommend.’
Author of The List of Suspicious Things.
‘On a cold and isolated Scottish island, secrets are buried so deep that no-one knows the truth. In a tale that weaves in threads of Pet Sematary and the Wicker Man, Liz keeps you guessing right to the very death.’
GODRON J BROWN (AKA MORGAN CRY)
Novels include No More Games and Any Day Now. Director of crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland.
‘Exquisitely sharp and atmospheric, a novel full of secrets and lies to confound you at every turn.’
Author of All the Little Things.
‘A dark, tense and intriguing exploration of what happens when long buried secrets start bubbling back up to the surface… Highly recommended.’
Author of Tell Me How This Ends.
‘Unputdownable. A twisty, thrilling, constantly surprising story. It kept me guessing right to end.’
Comedian and author, including Born Lippy,
How to do Female.
‘Liz Webb’s ‘The Saved’ is an instant classic. Wonderfully unique in its atmospheric setting, and a fabulous character twist. This is a book you’ll absolutely devour. Enthralling – but keep the lights on!’
Novels include The D.C.I. Daley thrillers and
Murder at Holly House.
‘Extremely atmospheric, deeply chilling and cleverly put together, I really enjoyed The Saved.’
Novels include Try Not to Breathe and The Last Straw. Co-presenter of the popular podcast ‘Honest Authors’.
‘The Saved is an exquisitely told thriller with three-dimensional imagery and characters which Liz’s brilliant writing elucidates stunningly. The ebbs and flows of the story and the characters’ journey are pinpoint perfect, leading to a breathtaking bombshell of a denouement.’
Author of Bad for Good.
‘A mesmerising gothic thriller that is utterly chilling. I was swept along on the rising tide of fear. Magnificent!’
Author of The Smart Woman’s Crime Mysteries.
I was quite a morbid child. I was obsessed with the concept of ‘not being’. I wasn’t ‘wanting to be dead’, I was merely amazed by the idea that my intense sense of consciousness could ever simply ‘not be’. I used to shut my eyes, hide under the bedclothes and try to imagine ‘not existing’. It was thrilling and horrifying and I could only keep it up for a short time. I later became fascinated by Frankenstein films and then the novel, intrigued by the idea of an inanimate body becoming live.
New writers are often advised to ‘write what you know’. Which I totally did for my first novel THE DAUGHTER, setting it in North London where I live, and featuring a self-doubting protagonist, who was eerily like me! But for my second novel THE SAVED, I decided to push myself way out of my comfort zone and write about a subject and a place that I knew absolutely nothing about.
Faber Academy: Writing What You Know vs Writing Beyond Personal Experience
Curtis Brown Interview – How to Create Atmospheric Settings
The Female First: 7 things I’ve learnt since starting a new career as a writer in my 50’s’
Jericho Writers Newsletter: My Writers Reboot Recipe