In the long hot summer of 1976 a group of friends made their home at Grays Orchard, artist Gus Ridley’s large country house. But their idyll ended in a brutal and unsolved murder.

More than twenty years later Gus’s niece, who was conceived during that summer, arrives from Australia and her questions reopen the mystery surrounding his past.

Gus’s younger wife, Carol, takes up the challenge. Her determination to uncover her husband’s secrets lead her to spend some time with a weird cult, the Heirs of Atlantis. And when she does discover the truth it is much, much more than she bargained for.


Toronto Globe and Mail

‘Joanna Hines … is a disciple of the Barbara Vine school of atmosphere and hidden secrets and carries it off with both her own touc h and plot twists the redoubtable Baroness would appreciate … this novel starts slowly but builds fast.’

B Magazine

‘a chilling thriller’

Author’s Comment:

‘This book about family secrets – every family has its secrets, though luckily not many are as dark as Gus Ridley’s. Surface Tension was also prompted by my interest in the many unusual belief systems people adopt in order to make sense of life’s journey. Do most of us need the comfort of our delusions, like the members of my strange cult? Carol thinks it is always better to know the truth about people – but is that so? The great thing about writing a novel is that you can ask questions and leave the answers to the reader.’