Review: All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane

Clan Destine Press’s new release, All Our Secrets, is set in the fictional small town of Coongahoola in NSW.

Set in 1984, the town is steeped in the consequences of a wild party on the banks of the Bagooli River in 1975 and the rush of children born nine months later. The fathers of the River Children are not necessarily the men married to their mothers.

Nine years later, one of the River Children goes missing, his body turning up a few days later by the river. He is the first of a string of murders. One of the children who may be the next target is Elijah Barrett.

His 11 year old sister, Gracie, is our guide to Coongahoola. Through her eyes we meet her chaotic family, her town, the shock of the murders and her beloved brother.

Lane imbues Gracie with a realism that makes the young girl sympathetic and irritating in turns, though her innate kindness is her saving grace (as it were) even when she’s not always making the kindest decisions in her attempts to fit in to the town’s narrow social expectations. She is struggling with the estrangement of her parents, her sometimes embarrassingly religious grandmother, her crush on the boy next door and her anxiety from the usual array of schoolground bullying and snooty cliques.

Through this thoroughly believable child, Lane captures the personalities and quirks of the people of Coongahoola. As each child disappears, only to be found murdered, the net of suspicion is cast wide – from townspeople to the group of religious devotees who have recently set up camp by the river.  The parallels between the personal chaos of Gracie’s world and that of the whole town is clear: all the rivalries and jealousies, the in and out groups, the unfounded rumours and blame games.

All Our Secrets is a gripping and perfectly paced story, balanced splendidly between Gracie’s  distress and concern for her family ad the fear experienced by the wider community as their children become victims.

It’s no surprise to learn that All Our Secrets won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel in New Zealand. Clan Destine Press has brought this fantastic book, with it’s unusual and powerful point of view, to a new audience. Get it now to read a fresh new voice in Australian crime.

Buy All Our Secrets

 

Quintette of Questions: K. Caine

Today I ask five questions of Holmesian romance writer, K. Caine:

K. Caine

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The title is A Study in Velvet and Leather– and surprisingly, this is one of the titles that I agonised over the least! The perfect title, for me, is evocative and visual, preferably has more than one meaning, and fits the style of the piece.

Because I was writing canon-era Sherlock for this work, I wanted a title that would evoke that genre. I was re-reading A Study in Scarlet at the time, trying to sink back into the wonder that is moving in with Sherlock Holmes—so that solidified the first half of the title. From there, it was mostly about picking words that were symbolic of the story.

Velvet and leather are two fabrics that represent the two prominent female characters in the book, so A Study in Velvet and Leather it was!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I didn’t need to think hard about the answers for this one—I already had my reference images downloaded! It’s definitely Tom Hardy for John Watson, with the same quiet feminism that he displayed in Mad Max: Fury Road. He’s got the right build for John, and it’s all too easy to imagine him with the moustache and the period clothing just quietly listening, watching Sherlock and trying to keep up.

And then Tilda Swinton would be my Sherlock Holmes—she’s got the sharp cheekbones, the piercing eyes, and the tendency to menswear that Sherlock shares, and there’s something about the intensity of her presence that’s both really unusual for women, and also very, very fitting for Sherlock as a character.

3. What five words best describe your story?

“Man in love, doesn’t realize.”

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple or team?

The gang from Leverage are everything that a team should be—the entire series is a showcase of exactly how good a found family can be, right from the very first episode. Throughout the series, we get to witness a group of different people with different interests—and sometimes, entirely different plans as to how to go about something—figure out how to work with each other instead of against each other, and how to support each other through tough jobs and the stresses and traumas from life having not been that particularly kind.

That’s the kind of thing I look for in my team or couple dynamics—mutual support, snark and wit, and the gradual developing belief that your team is always going to do their best to have your back, no matter what you’re going through, and even if you aren’t your best self at the time.

5. What song always makes you cry?

Hands down, it’s La Dispute’s Woman (reading). The song is evocative of the wistfulness that marks the majority of the book—that sense that you can be physically close to someone (even, dare I say it, roommates) and still feel as though you are continents apart, and the other person is forever out of your reach.

See the lyrics here.

About A Study in Velvet and Leather

Sharing a flat with Sherlock Holmes should not have posed a problem for John Watson–after all, Watson is gay, Holmes is a woman, and the arrangement is financially convenient. But when Holmes takes a complex case involving Irene Adler and a scandalous photograph, she turns to Watson for assistance.

The case leads them everywhere from the opera to a secret Victorian BDSM club, and Watson soon finds himself questioning his partnership with Holmes, his sexuality, and his understanding of himself.

About K. Caine

K. Caine is a queer writer from the Canadian prairies whose work encompasses multiple genres, including romance, erotica, horror, and speculative fiction. After having taken a decade-long break from writing entirely, K. Caine is back, and is completely engrossed in creating stories characterized by deep points of view, high emotional stakes, and layered foreshadowing.

Armed with a psychology degree, and more stories about glitter in strange places than are really necessary, K. Caine brings themes of feminism, sexuality, gender, non-traditional relationships, and mental illness into stories. A Study in Velvet and Leather is K. Caine’s first published book.

Caine has wild and varied ideas about what comes next, but is currently procrastinating on Twitter.

Buy A Study in Velvet and Leather

Add A Study in Velvet and Leather to your Goodreads list!

Words are like oxygen

%d bloggers like this: