Mystery, ghosts, sins of the past…this book has it all.
Simon & Schuster (Australia) Pty Ltd
A CBS Company
When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start.
In a dim back room of the old house she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War II soldier – Samuel Riordan, the homestead’s former occupant – and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him.
But as Samuel’s story unravels, Audrey discovers that he was accused of bashing to death a young Aboriginal woman upon his return from war in 1944. When she learns that other unexplained deaths have occurred in recent years – one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the 1944 victim – she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive.
And now Audrey – thanks to her obsessive need to uncover the past – has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.
What a fantastic debut novel – this is a great hybrid narrative – a little Gothic, a little Australiana, a little Picnic at Hanging Rock, a little mystery, murder and a little bit of history and then a slice of romance on the side. I loved the story; I loved the use of letters, diaries and old newspaper stories to help tell events of the past.
The writing is superb, there are descriptions in the novel that made my senses come alive; the description of Danny’s handmade chocolates (p 174) “… I had only meant to pop it in, chew it and quickly swallow, just to be polite. Bu the moment the chocolate touched my tongue I felt my spine unravel, and if my mouth hadn’t been full I’d have uttered a sigh of sheer joy. The chocolate was fine and creamy, vaguely bitter, smooth and as yielding as honey. Then I bit down… it was the singular, most bracing pleasure I’d had in…” I want to try those chocolates! I craved chocolate liqueurs whilst reading this passage.
Then there was the description of Danny ‘writing’ on Audrey’s hand by the rose arbour- sensual and wicked and delightful.
The sensual elements in this writing are subdued and elegantly written; the mystical occasional wafting of old roses where there should be none is effective in conjuring up the past, the descriptions of the Australian bush captures its uniqueness. The ghostly apparitions are real and scary; the violence of the past imbues the present. The house holds many secrets and slowly as they are unlocked, the danger increases.
This is a great read. The beautiful language and descriptions will hold you spellbound. The mystery will enthral you and the romance will inspire. The violence and past atrocities will make you cringe in fear for those in the present. This is an impressive novel.