Islands by Peggy Frew
Islands (Allen and Unwin 2019) is a literary portrait of a disappeared girl and a family in crisis, by author Peggy Frew. When 15-year-old Anna goes missing, her fractured family is thrown into even further chaos. Through a multitude of perspectives, time-frames and forms, and with detailed characterisation and beautiful descriptions of the natural world, Peggy Frew draws us deep into the mystery of Anna’s vanishing, and the reverberating after-effects that haunt the family for a generation.
Little Gods by Jenny Ackland
Little Gods (Allen and Unwin 2018), by Jenny Ackland, recently longlisted for the Stella Prize, features the distinct voice of 12-year-old Olive Lovelock as she experiences childhood in rural Victoria and investigates the mystery of what happened to her baby sister who died years earlier. Adventures with her extended family and local townsfolk provide more questions than answers. Olive is a memorable character and this story explores the nature of grief and a child’s natural curiosity.
The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan
The Scholar (Harper Collins 2019) is the follow-up crime novel to the successful The Ruin, by Dervla McTiernan. Another tightly detailed police procedural, The Scholar reacquaints us with Detective Cormac Reilly and his partner Dr Emma Sweeney. When Emma discovers a hit and run victim who it seems might have had links to the university where Emma works, Cormac’s loyalties and impartiality comes into question. With the research of a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company at the centre of the story, McTiernan follows the taut thread of evidence, while also elaborating on the personal relationship and backstories of Cormac and Emma. This is yet another great Australian crime writer (OK, she’s Irish by birth, but she lives here now, so … you know, technically she’s ours …)