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  • The Boy in the Field

    by Margot Livesey

    by Margot Livesey

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Illustrations by Nick Matej

Dear Reader,

I’m delighted to share my most recent novel, The Boy in the Field, set in and around Oxford, England. Three siblings are walking home from school one September afternoon in 1999 when they find an unconscious boy with stab wounds, lying in a field. They summon help and save his life, but each of their own lives is changed by the crime. Matthew, the oldest, tries to track down the boy’s assailant; Zoe, the middle child, starts looking for romance; and Duncan, the youngest, who’s adopted, begins to search for his birth mother. Meanwhile, Detective Hugh Price — he has almost nothing in common with Oxford’s most famous detective, Inspector Morse — is working away to apprehend the perpetrator. As for the boy, he recovers from his physical injuries, but his deeper injuries only gradually become apparent.

The Boy in the Field opens like a traditional English whodunit — hedges, a body, a detective — and becomes both a mystery and a coming-of-age story. And did I mention that there’s a wonderful dog, Lily, who adopts the family? I hope you enjoy visiting England just before Y2K.

Thank you,

Margot Livesey     

A Slow-Burn Mystery

'The Boy in the Field' book cover

Harper Collins

Serialization — releasing a book in sequential installments, often in magazines and newspapers — has been used to build suspense for hundreds of years. Every day over the course of several weeks, two new chapters of Margot Livesey's The Boy in the Field were released here. Serialization took advantage of the book's natural chapter arcs — and helped build the mystery before unraveling it. 

All of the chapters are available to read now. Click on the table of contents below to access them, or scroll down the page for a profile piece about the author and brief introductions of each chapter, with wonderful illustrations by Nick Matej.

Check out more free books from AARP Members Only Access.


Meet Margot Livesey

Get to know the author behind The Boy in the Field, learn about the real-life incident that inspired her 11th book and its characters, and find out what some of her favorite words are — you'll never guess!

Chapters 1 & 2

Here is what happened one Monday in the month of September, in the last year of the last century. Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang were on their way home from school... Continue reading

Chapters 3 & 4

During English, Ms. Humphreys gave them fifteen minutes to answer the questions she’d written on the board about The Merchant of Venice. Then she collected their notebooks... Continue reading


Chapters 5 & 6

He had worried he might not recognize the gate, one among many, but a loop of yellow police tape hung helpfully from the top bar. He wheeled his bike into the field and leaned... Continue reading

Chapters 7 & 8

“Will you make us a sign?” he said. “We’ll pay you the going rate.” He had been pleased when the idea came to him. Duncan would feel appreciated, and the result would be much better than... Continue reading

Chapters 9 & 10

When her mother announced that the detective was coming back to talk to them, her first thought was that they’d caught the man, but as soon as Hugh Price stepped into the kitchen... Continue reading


Chapters 11 & 12

Last May, a few weeks after the man appeared in the churchyard, she had started going out with Luke, who was, he told her on their first date, three hundred and eighty-three days older than... Continue reading

Chapters 13 & 14

With its original gold lettering, MacLeod & Son, above the door and its black-and-white-tiled entrance, the butcher’s was one of the oldest shops in town. Zoe had not been inside for years, but... Continue reading

Chapters 15 & 16

As she left the bus station, Zoe could picture the woman in her black T-shirt, with her wide smile and tangled hair, but walking up George Street, turning onto the Cornmarket, passing... Continue reading


Chapters 17 & 18

She had not planned to look for the American but, day after day, there he was in the middle of biology or Latin or running; his face appeared when she was brushing her hair... Continue reading

Chapters 19 & 20

When she got home from the butcher’s, her mother was circling the ficus with a watering can. Without looking up, she reached for a yellow leaf and said, “Can you take Duncan... Continue reading

Chapters 21 & 22

He watched his fingers playing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and tried to ignore the telephone directories, neatly stacked on the lowest shelf of the bookcase across the room... Continue reading


Chapters 23 & 24

Before he could protest—he was doing his homework—Zoe had crossed the room and was standing beside his desk. “I have to tell you something,” she said. “You can’t tell anyone... Continue reading

Chapters 25 & 26

In the cloakroom they started talking about the millennium. Heather’s mother, an accountant, claimed that everything was going to crash at midnight on December thirty-first. “But... Continue reading

Chapters 27 & 28

When he saw the postcard of Big Ben by his plate, his first thought was: She found me. Somehow his first mother had known about his search and written to him. But on the other... Continue reading

Chapters 29 & 30

She answered the door, expecting someone collecting for charity or leafleting for a good cause, and discovered a boy, no collecting tin, no pamphlets, only a small backpack... Continue reading

Chapters 31 & 32

"Give me a minute, Ms. Lang,” said the porter. “I think he left a message for you.” In the background she heard a girl’s voice, her inaudible words punctuated by the merry ring of... Continue reading


Chapters 33 & 34

Five in the afternoon, already dark. He was at the middle till, handing a girl a one-pound coin and two twenty-pence pieces, her change for a carton of orange juice and a loaf of bread... Continue reading

Chapters 35 & 36

Through the windw of the bus he watched the sun, glowing palely above the leafless branches of the elms and beeches. He was wondering how he would paint the sharp winter light, when... Continue reading

Chapters 37 & 38

Somehow, he had thought, once they caught the man, he would be able to talk to him. But that was absurd. He wasn’t a policeman; he wasn’t a priest, or a doctor, or a psychiatrist. Why would he... Continue reading

Chapters 39 & 40

The Salon of Second Chances was held on the penultimate day of the twentieth century, from four to seven p.m. The normally somber town hall, with its sallow walls and fluorescent... Continue reading


More Mysteries

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