What She Left: A Novel

What She Left: A Novel

by T.R. Richmond

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In this brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge, a professor pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student—and unearths a shocking revelation about her final days. “A deliciously modern take on the psychological thriller” (Daily Telegraph).

On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or…murder?

Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project—a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.

Bit by bit, the real Alice—a complicated and vulnerable young woman—springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle—including Jeremy himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476773919
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/12/2016
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

T.R. Richmond is an award-winning author and journalist living in London.

Read an Excerpt

What She Left

  • What’s in a name? That’s the question we asked teenagers to answer in 1,000 words for this year’s New Talent competition. Here’s the winning entry from fifteen-year-old Alice Salmon.

    My name is Alice.

    Could leave it there. I know what I mean by that. I’m me, Alice Salmon. Tall, average-looking, big feet, hair that goes wavy at the mere mention of water, a bit of a worry bear. A massive music fan, a proper bookworm, loves being outdoors, though dies at the sight of a spider.

    Mostly it’s Alice, people call me, although occasionally I’m Al or Aly or Lissa, the last one of which for the record I hate. When I was a kid I used to have squillions of nicknames like Ali Baba and Ice and, my favorite of all, especially when my dad called me it, Ace.

    My uncle calls me Celia, which is an anagram of Alice, although I get the word “anagram” muddled up with “anachronism.” “That’s what I am,” my dad always says if anyone says “anachronism,” although the word “dad” is actually a palindrome. I learnt that yesterday.

    I like knowing this stuff, even if my best friend Megan says I sound as if I’ve swallowed a dictionary. It’s not that I like showing off, but you’ve got to if you’re going to study English. If I get the grades, I’d love to go to Exeter or Liverpool, but as long as it’s a long way from Corby I don’t mind, although wherever you go, there are probably people trying to get away from there. I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to move out; my mum’s constantly poking her nose into my business. She reckons it’s because she cares, but it’s not fair it’s me who suffers because she’s paranoid. I obviously put that last line in after she read this and she’ll never see it because I’m bound not to win.

    Maybe what’s in my name is the music I like (have listened to “Dancing in the Moonlight” about 400 times today) or the TV I watch (you’re looking at the world’s biggest Dawson fan) or my friends or the diary I keep? Maybe it’s the bits of all of that stuff I can remember, which isn’t much because my memory’s lousy.

    Perhaps it’s my family? My mum and dad and brother who used to called me “a lice” or “Mice” or “Malice” as if it was the funniest joke ever cracked in the history of the world. Maybe it’ll be my kids, not that I’m going to have any, no thank you: all that yuck and puke and poo. I haven’t even got a boyfriend, although if Mr. DiCaprio is reading this, I am free on Friday . . .

    “You’ll change your mind,” Mum says about the babies, but she said that about asparagus and I haven’t.

    Perhaps it’s the things I plan to do, like travel, or the nicest thing I’ve already done, which hands down was that day’s volunteering at the deaf place (can you see my halo shining?), or possibly the worst (no way am I fessing up to that!).

    I could tell you about my best day ever. That’s a toughie; maybe it was when Meg and I went to see Enrique Iglesias or I met J. K. Rowling or my gramps took me on that surprise birthday picnic, but the thing about “ever” is that it only takes you up to now, and tomorrow can be better, so I ought to talk about “so far” rather than “ever.”

    There again, sometimes you can explain what an object is by pretending not to talk about it (I’ve just googled that: it’s “apophasis”), so maybe what’s in my name are the things I could be doing instead of this, like my maths homework or taking Mr. Woof for a walk.

    I used to wish more famous people were called Alice. Not, like, mega-famous, because then whenever anyone said it, it would be them who everyone thought of—like if you’re called Britney or Cherie—but semi-famous. There’s Alice Cooper, but he’s a man and that’s not even his real name. There’s Alice in Wonderland, too, which used to get quoted at me a lot, stuff like being curiouser and curiouser, though my favorite line was always the one about not being able to explain yourself because it’s not actually yourself you see, even if I never understood it.

    I suppose I am what I’m writing here, too, which might be rubbish. I asked my mum to read this—only to check the spelling—and she said it was great, even if the first and last lines did make me sound like an alcoholic, but that’s just how she interpreted it.

    Mum said there were a few bits I should reconsider, but there’s no point submitting it if it’s lies, although I did agree to knock out the textspeak and swearwords and there were lots of them in the first draft (this is the seventh!). I also use too many brackets and exclamation marks but they’re staying in, otherwise (again) this wouldn’t be me.

    “At times it terrifies me how much we are alike,” Mum said after she read it. Well, she’s not the only one. Some days, even though she tries to hide it, she mopes around the house like the world’s about to end. (Yes, this line went in after she vetted it, too—talk about the thought police!)

    Dad reckons I must have been dropped on my head as a baby, because me and him have hardly anything in common, although we both love salmon, which is funny, because you could say that makes us cannibals.

    My name is Alice Salmon. Five words out of my 1,000. I hope I’m more than 200 times those five words. Even if not now, I hope one day I will be.

    I will finish this now and stand up and ask myself who I am. I do that a lot. I’ll look in the mirror. Reassure myself, scare myself, like myself, hate myself.

    My name is Alice Salmon.

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