Clare is a missing woman looking for missing women, on assignment for Malcolm Boon, the mysterious man hired by her husband to find her.
On the run from her own past of abuse and addiction, Clare trips on the tethers to her own life in each case she takes on. In Still Mine, Amy Stuart's best-selling debut, Clare's first case lands her in a town devastated by a mine collapse and the economic collapse that followed. Still grappling with her own narcotic dependancy, Clare has to go under deep, pill-popping cover to get to the bottom of what happened to Shayna Fowles, whose troubled, jeopardized life in Blackmore might be a correlative of the life Clare left.
Still Water picks up a few months later. Clare, recovering from a gunshot wound, is in High River pretending to be an old friend of Sally Proulx, recently disappeared, along with her young son, from a refuge for "women on the run." Here, again, Clare encounters echoes of her own past. Wherever she goes, her ex-husband Jason lives in the corner of her eye. Worried that he's on her trail, Clare sees him everywhere.
These first two books in Stuart's "Still Clare" Series (not sure if the series has an appellation yet) are double-barrelled. On the one hand, they function as corking thrillers, Clare making for a fine, burgeoning shamus whose sheer presence seems to stress the seams of deception in these towns, whose own deceptions allow her access to the lies of the suspects assembled, so to speak, in the parlour.
On the other hand, these cases act as mirrors in which Clare (and the reader) can better observe and understand her own past, her own trauma. Each case can sometimes feel like a simulation or a dream through which Clare can address her own travails at a remove.
For detective, suspects, and the missing, these cases urge revelation and catharsis. Because Stuart is gradually telling a larger story across these books. Clare sees herself and her past and her pursuer everywhere she goes because there's a devastating sameness and complacency to the cycle of abuse. In every town she lands in there will be a story similar to hers. And there's no shortage of suspects because, as Clare observers in Still Mine, "All men are angry about something."