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DiscardedThe Missing Children Case Files

M. A. Hunter

One More Chapter

a division of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF


First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2021

Copyright © M. A. Hunter 2021

Cover design by Lucy Bennett © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2021

Cover images © Shutterstock.com

M. A. Hunter asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008443351

Ebook Edition © March 2021 ISBN: 9780008443344

Version: 2021-02-11

Content notices: domestic violence, paedophilia, sexual assault, drug abuse, child abuse.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43


Thank you for reading…

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About the Author

Also by M. A. Hunter

One More Chapter...

About the Publisher

Dedicated to ‘Little’ David Knowles

who passed away in December 2020.

Thank you for 27 years of great memories.

The road was jagged

Over sharp stones:

Your body’s too ragged

To cover your bones.

The wind scatters

Tears upon dust;

Your soul’s in tatters

Where the spears thrust.

— Fire and Sleet and Candlelight, Elinor Wylie

Chapter One Then

Portland, Dorset

Incandescent with rage, Joanna strode on, only once daring to sneak a glance back over her shoulder to where her sister watched on.

‘Stupid baby toy,’ she muttered under her breath, the salty breeze cooling the small blot of tears that had started forming around her eyes. ‘I don’t need it, and I don’t need them.’

Everyone always said Joanna was very mature for her age, and maybe that was part of the problem: they could see she was mature, but still treated her as a child. It wasn’t fair. She was practically ten anyway, and clearly her parents considered her old enough to watch over her kid sister while they talked, so they couldn’t complain that she’d decided to walk to the shop to buy herself some sweets; she’d probably be home before they even realised anyway.

The cause of this latest outburst – one in a long line of recent disagreements blown over the top – was the seeming lack of reward for this term’s school report. Joanna had worked hard to earn her high grades in English, Maths, and Science, but just because her younger sister had received a special mention in the end of term newsletter, she’d been given a new skateboard. How was that fair? Where was Joanna’s own skateboard, or age-appropriate gift, for doing so well? Were strong grades in English, Maths, and Science really worth less than the piece of music her sister had learned to play on that damned recorder?

And she’d missed a note when she’d played it!

But there was no mention of that slip-up in the newsletter that was now stuck to the front of the fridge, with copies sent out to family members far and wide.

‘We’ve high hopes for you,’ their father had said at breakfast, still beaming. ‘Today, the school assembly, but tomorrow, maybe the Philharmonic Orchestra!’

Yeah, sure, Dad, they have recorder players in the Philharmonic Orchestra!

Joanna had only asked for one turn on the bloody skateboard, to show her sister how to do it right, but would she listen? No! Always thought she knew better, that one. Well, Joanna would show her. She’d take the pound coin she’d earned for tidying her bedroom, and she’d buy chocolate, and casually walk home, eating it. Then her sister would know who the big fish in the family was!

But as she now looked up to get her bearings, she realised she’d missed the usual cut way that led up to the local shop. In fact, she’d missed it by quite some distance, and she wasn’t totally certain she knew where she was. The sea gulls cawed nearby, but she couldn’t get a sense of which end of the island she’d been walking towards. There was something vaguely familiar about the boarded-up fish and chip shop on the corner, the picture of the navy-blue fish on the orange backdrop looking ghastly. If she kept walking straight she would eventually come to one side of the shoreline or the other, or she’d see the signs for Weymouth and realise she’d walked far too far.

Stopping for a moment, and sweeping the hazelnut fringe out of her eyes, she took in the full horizon, looking for any indication of just how far she’d come. Wasn’t this the way their mum drove them to the dentist? Their dentist was on the way to Weymouth town centre, and so they made the six-monthly visit by car. Most of the time, Joanna had her head buried in a book of poetry or literature, and she didn’t bother to take in the scenery around her.

Not wanting to retrace her steps, she continued onwards, turning down past the fish and chip shop. If she was right, and this was the road to the dentist, then there should be a…

The smile broke across her face as she spotted the small newsagent’s shop with the giant plastic ice-cream cone standing outside of it. Joanna

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