Reviewed by LynC
Picturesque Daylesford has a darker side.
Melbourne writer Georgie Harvey heads to the mineral springs region of central Victoria to look for a missing farmer. There she uncovers links between the woman’s disappearance and her dangerous preoccupation with the unsolved mystery surrounding her husband.
Maverick cop and solo dad John Franklin is working a case that’s a step up from Daylesford’s usual soft crime; a poison-pen writer whose targets are single mothers.
Georgie’s investigation stirs up long buried secrets and she attracts enemies. When she reports the missing person to the local cops, sparks fly between her and Franklin. Has he dismissed the writer too quickly?
A country cop, city writer, retired farmer and poison-pen stalker all want answers. What will they risk to get them? What will be the ultimate cost?
- Winner of the 2015 Davitt Award Readers’ Choice
- Shortlisted for the Davitt Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction
I wasn’t sure about this at first. I mean; a smoking protagonist who has just argued herself out of losing her licence for speeding, running away from a boyfriend who actually wants to commit to her, and bitching about her next door neighbour asking her for help, when, in her own words, Ruby and Michael would do anything for her. But she does help. And what a can of worms that opens!
Ruby’s pal Susan has gone missing. She hasn’t answered her phone for a week. Helping her neighbour takes Georgie on a spin to Daylesford, just a few hours out of Melbourne – especially at the speeds Georgie enjoys in her 1984 Alfa Romeo Spider. Georgie enjoys the trip out of town, enjoys the night away from her boyfriend, and expects to find nothing has happened to Susan. But Susan really is missing. The harder Georgie digs the more obstacles she encounters, not least of them a middle aged cop with a teenage daughter. Georgie and John take an instant dislike to each other, but as each investigates the mystery in their own way, each keeps stumbling over the other.
It is not either’s intention to combine forces, but they need each other. It all points to a car accident years ago, followed by the accidental death of Susan’s husband a few nights later. But was it an accident? Was the smear campaign which turned a good honest and kindly man into a wife bashing monster just a little too convenient?
The seemingly unconnected clues pile up and Georgie can’t help but follow them with John not far behind. Susan finds what she went looking for, but would it perhaps have been wiser to heed the advice of friends to let it go? How wise is it for Georgie to be following the same path. But with her neighbour in hospital, Georgie cannot let it go. She has to have something to tell Ruby.
From the opening and rather dismal few pages this book just got better and better. Putting it down ceased to be an option, I had to keep following Georgie and John. I had to know what came next. I cared that both came out of it safely as the tension started mounting.
There was just one minor jolt in the plot. It was written in 2013. Georgie doesn’t appear to be particularly poor, but she doesn’t own a smart phone, or a GPS. She needs local area maps to get around. In every other aspect it appears to be contemporary.
Apart from the minor discomfit the technology disconnect caused, it was a darn good read. There is a sequel due out real soon now. I want Black Saturday out yesterday so I can keep reading. That is how good I found this novel. It well deserved the Davitt Readers’ Award. Especially amazing considering it was Sandi Wallace’s first novel.
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LynC is a 50-something year old widow, juggling the demands of writing Speculative Fiction and being a single Mum.
In the past few years LynC has had four short stories published; one of which — Nematalien — was nominated for an award in 2013. Her first novel — Nil By Mouth (Satalyte Publishing) — was launched at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in June 2014, and in the first year of publication has been shortlisted for two jury awards (Aurealis Award – SF Category and the Norma K Hemming Award).(Narrelle’s note: this is an excellent book and I recommend it highly.)
LynC resides, with her two ‘new’ adults, three cats, and a canary, in a hidden area less than ten kilometres from the Melbourne CBD (in Australia) surrounded by creeks and wooded hills.
The Books of Love are romance book reviews of both new releases and old favourites.