Tell Anna She’s Safe


a novel by Brenda Missen

Print: 978-1-926708-20-1 – $22.95
ePUB: 978-1-926708-29-4 – $9.99
PDF: 978-1-771330-09-1 – $9.99

352 Pages
May 01, 2011

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Based on a true story, Tell Anna She’s Safe is the tale of two women, one missing, the other searching for her. Driving home alongside West Quebec’s Gatineau River one April afternoon, researcher Ellen McGinn spots a parked car that looks like it might belong to her friend and colleague, Lucy Stockman. She soon finds out that Lucy has disappeared. Ellen has an unusual dream in which she receives three clear messages: she is to search and to write everything down—and Lucy is safe. But is she? Ellen’s continuing dreams seem to indicate otherwise, and then there is the suspicious behaviour of Lucy’s partner, a man with a violent past that includes a manslaughter conviction. What begins as a physical search soon also becomes a determined quest for the truth beyond the stereotypical appearances of her friend’s risky relationship. Terrified for her own life, Ellen reaches a deeper than bargained for understanding of Lucy’s dark journey, and her own.

This novel is inspired by the life of Ottawa free-lance writer Louise Ellis, who disappeared some 15 years ago. The author, Brenda Missen, was a friend and colleague of Louise, and was the person who found Louise’s car when she she first went missing. A compelling and gripping book that gives voice to what may have been the last days of Louise Ellis’s life.

“Gripping. A moving, scary story of love and betrayal.”
—Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestseller author and producer of the hit TV series, Bones

“A true-life crime novel that explores both the fascinating pathology of a woman who falls for a convicted killer and the deadly human need to control—at any cost. Missen deftly blends fact, fiction, and speculation into a book that refuses to be put down.”
—Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover

“An emotional journey behind the scenes of a turbulent relationship and its tragic outcome. The disturbing portrayal of hope, fear and loss exposes the lasting damage to the victim’s friends and family in the aftermath of the crime. This novel and the issues it explores will stay with you long after you reach the end.”
—Mary Jane Maffini, author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder

Brenda Missen‘s award-winning short fiction has been published in the crime anthology Cottage Country Killers and in the Algonquin Roundtable Review. Her work has also been published in a number of Canadian magazines and her local newspaper. Born and raised in Toronto, Brenda Missen currently lives on the Madawaska River in rural Ontario with her dog, Maddy.

4 reviews for Tell Anna She’s Safe

  1. InannaWebmaster

    “This novel does the seemingly impossible: it delivers the story of a woman who enters an abusive relationship in a way that promotes empathy. There is no victim blaming here. Missen enables her readers to understand the historical and biographical threads that weave some women into relationships with dangerous men. All the while that readers are shouting for our protagonist to RUN, we also understand the socialization that enables/encourages women to stay. This is a particularly useful book for Women’s Studies courses, and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it resonate with readers on several levels. Missen does her readers proud with this sensitive and gripping narrative.”
    – Donna Decker, author of Red Shoes Will Kill You: A Novel About the 1989 Montreal Massacre

  2. InannaWebmaster

    The Millstone, July 7, 2011
    by Carolyn Ciccoritti

    Crimes against women: manipulation, abuse, murder. Tell Anna She’s Safe, a novel by Brenda Missen, weaves fiction out of true crime.

    In 1995, Ottawa journalist Louise Ellis went missing. A friend came upon her abandoned car and began what would be a three month search to find her. All that remained were bones from the body that had been dumped in a field in Wakefield, Quebec. Brett Morgan, the convict with whom she’d fallen in love, was charged with her murder. Ellis had worked to secure Morgan an early release from prison and the two were living together at the time of her disappearance.

    Author Missen was the friend who discovered Ellis’s empty vehicle. She deftly recounts the story of the disappearance, discovery, and murder trial through twin narratives: her own and the missing woman’s. (The names of the characters have been changed, but the staggering truth of the story remains.) Through both voices we are able to see beyond what would be deemed a typical good woman conned by bad man headline, and into the personal struggles that can occur in any woman’s mind. The tale is at once personal and frightening; the horror of the actual events sharpened by our proximity to it.”

  3. InannaWebmaster

    AMAZON.CA – 5.0 out of 5 stars Sorry No More, July 13 2011
    By Brian I Bell

    “This is a riveting story with all of the requisite suspense and intrigue of a brutal murder played out in this world and a world of dreams and the departed.

    For me the centre-piece was the masterful portrayal of the relationship between Lucy and Tim: two complex and volatile (and sometimes violent) personalities united in a tragically unrequited journey in search of self and (or is it `through’?) another.

    I was upset when the book ended, perhaps because I was overtaken by how seriously wrong things had gone: alas, there would be no more opportunities for saying ‘sorry.’

    But I should have known what was coming, with the wonderful imagery and insights that revealed the vulnerabilities of these troubled people, especially Lucy. For example, on her first visit to Warkworth prison to see Tim, Lucy contemplates the sign on the gate that instruct visitors to `stand clear.’ Why `clear’ she wonders, and how odd a word it seems to her when contrasted with her clarity of mind in making the journey to Warkworth! And a particularly haunting insight is offered when Lucy approaches Tim on the doorstep of their temporary residence when making her first conjugal prison visit (or `PFV’).

    The point is, I had actually come to feel like I was in the minds and yes, even the souls, of Tim and Lucy. I really believed that “Tim had no premeditated plan to con Lucy” and I’m convinced that Lucy had indeed seen “the eyes of an ancient friend and lover” in Tim at the very beginning of their Odyssey.

    I really do believe that they desperately wanted things to work!
    I rarely re-read novels but this is one that I will pick up again. I’m sure that there is a lot that I missed. But I’ll wait for a while as I’m still recovering from the sleep deprivation from my first read: I just couldn’t put this book down!”

    5.0 out of 5 stars Tell everyone, it’s great, July 10 2011
    By John E Butcher

    “This book is a fictionalized account of a real mystery that transfixed Ottawa in the mid-1990s. I was curious about the book as I remembered the wall to wall media coverage of the search for the missing woman, and even the eventual outcome.

    Such knowledge is fatal to suspense, right? Wrong. I stayed up all night reading to see how the story played out.

    Tell Anna She’s Safe is an intriguing page-turner told from two perspectives – that of the missing woman herself, and a friend who is guided by dreams to reveal the truth. Beautifully written with finely drawn major and minor characters, it’s an engrossing tale of how the wrong relationship can have dangerous and damaging results.

    While the main action is described by the female narrator, Ellen, alternating flashbacks from the perspective of the missing Lucy provide suspenseful and disturbing insights into her love affair with a convicted killer. Knowing the story is based on fact, I wondered, why would she pursue him? why did no one stop her? Lucy and Ellen’s parallel experiences reveal how small decisions can lead to devastating consequences and new directions.”

  4. InannaWebmaster

    Highlights from an interview in Barry’s Bay, June 1, 2011
    by Jennifer Juhasz

    “Combermere resident Brenda Missen has a story to tell. It’s one that’s been in her heart and in the making since the day a colleague of hers went missing in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec, 16 years ago. Brenda’s involvement began with an abandoned car, followed by a painstaking search and exhausting legal proceedings. But what continued to haunt Brenda was a vision in her dreams to “write it in a book.” Now her story is a published novel, Tell Anna She’s Safe.

    It took Brenda 10 years for the novel to come together, not only because of juggling work with her creative writing, but also the very difficult subject matter at hand. Prior to her disappearance, her missing friend, Louise Ellis, had been involved with a prison convict. “I was trying to get into Louise’s head and trace her journey in a sympathetic way, and it took me a few years to finally figure out a way of identifying with her. Then her side of the story started to flow,” Missen said.

    Missen embraces this next phase of her life that will coincide with the promotion of her book. “It feels good that it’s finally out there where it should be and I’m ready to interact with people a little more publicly, whether through book signings or readings,” she said. “The novel’s been huge because of the subject matter and because, since I was 10, this is what I’m on earth to do – to write.”

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