A Guardian crime and thriller book of the year 2020
Waterstones Thriller of the Month, February 2021
#1 Times bestseller in paperback fiction
Tom Baird is a haunted man
When Tom was ten years old, his father took a shotgun and shot his family: his wife, his son and baby daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Only Tom survived.
Tom Baird is an exiled man
He left his tiny, shocked community on the island of Skellag and the strained silence of his Uncle Malcolm’s house while still a young boy. For twenty years he’s tried to escape his past.
Tom Baird is coming home
Without knowing how to ask, he needs answers – from his uncle, who should have known. From his neighbours, who think his father a decent man who ‘just snapped’. From the memories that haunt the wild landscape of the Outer Hebrides.
And from the silent ones who know more about what happened – and why – than they have ever dared admit.
By turns gripping, beautiful, devastating and tender, Our Fathers is a story about violence and redemption, control and love. With understated compassion and humour, Rebecca Wait gives a voice to the silenced and the silences between men of few words.
‘A deeply involving study of a controlling father and the devastation he wreaks. Wait evokes the isolated community where the violence unfolds with startling realism and compassion. Where does such a monstrous act begin? Where does it end? There are no easy answers, and Our Fathers does not offer them, instead keeping our focus on the humanity of those involved. A wise and moving novel.’
Polly Clarke, author of Larchfield and Tiger
‘With an immaculate sense of place and great compassion, Rebecca Wait reaches behind the headlines to tell a story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Stark yet lyrical, subtly mysterious and always humane, Our Fathers is a novel that details the trauma that is left behind in the long, bleak aftermath of violence. I found it impossible to look away, or put it down.’
Nina Allan, author of The Good Neighbours
‘Our Fathers is a compelling and insightful exploration of the way the effects of an atrocity ripple out to affect an entire community. Wait has the gift of finding the universal truths in extreme events and making them live on the page. Precise, restrained and disarmingly funny, this novel beguiles, shocks and charms.’
Ann Morgan, author of Beside Myself
‘In clear and tight writing, this is the riveting story of a few moments of violence and the decades of impact that follows. The novels makes very human what would otherwise be a headline. This is a writer to watch.’
Audrey Schulman, author of Theory of Bastards
‘Rebecca Wait’s Our Fathers deals with that most difficult of subject matters for a crime novel: the slaughter of a family by a family member… The novel is fearless in its quest. Day by day, from Tom’s wanderings around the island, from the people he meets, the questions he asks, no matter how difficult, a kind of answer emerges. Of course, there can be no complete explanation, not for such an extreme act, but maybe enough is revealed for life to carry on. Just maybe. An unspoken subject hovers over the land. A ghost. A secret. But slowly, surely, with compassion, the people are allowed to speak. A wonderful novel.’
Jeff Noon, The Spectator
‘Rebecca Wait’s third novel is a story of fathers and sons, and of ordinary people unable to move on in the aftermath of inconceivable violence. It’s a haunting yet compassionate portrait of grief, trauma and the memories people try to forget.’
Natalie Xenos, Culture Fly ‘2020 Fiction Preview: 25 books to look forward to reading this year’
The Gloss Magazine
‘This is a beautifully realised novel, touching on the fallibility of memory and the unknowability of families, and gripping in its intensity. Outstanding.’
Simon Humphreys, The Mail on Sunday
‘The best kind of crime fiction…Wait has written a novel that is powerful and insightful. Deeply compassionate and even it’s hardest to look at moments are aware, sensitive and humane… It reminds me of Graeme Macrea Burnet’s His Bloody Project in intensity and ambition and that is praise indeed… There’s plenty of drama and tension in this clarion call for a better understanding of domestic violence. Our Fathers may leave you drained but the experience is so worth it.’
Paul Burke, New Books Magazine
‘Through skilled and lyrical prose Rebecca Wait builds a powerful portrait of a marriage steeped in control and tension, a warning against silence and inaction… Given the subject matter, to say that Our Fathers is easy to read sounds glib and inappropriate. And yet it is. But it is easy to read not in a light way, but in the sense that story is cohesive. It has an organic flow. It is populated with believable, ultimately flawed characters, brought to life through thoughtful dialogue.’
‘Beautifully spare and profoundly upsetting… This is much more than just a crime story. It is a novel about a crime, written with great profundity…an absolutely captivating book.’
A N Wilson, The Tablet
‘Rebecca Wait accomplishes something truly rare: a novel that exerts an extraordinary grip without appearing to apply much force. She is adept at peeling away enough of her characters’ inner lives to help us to understand their hurt and their dilemmas, but without ever making them into emotional freak shows. Wait has a way too of getting to the nub of the matter in a few short words that reverberate across the whole story…Wait shifts and interrupts perspectives and time periods expertly to allow the reader to confront but not be overwhelmed by the events… a very fine achievement.’
Michael Duggan, Irish Examiner