Review: When We Fall by Aoife Clifford

There’s no shortage of small towns with deadly secrets in the thriving landscape of Australian crime fiction. The trope is perpetuated globally, obviously — hell, Jack Reacher wanders into a new one every year — but our geography, so wide and varied, is perfect fodder for writers of mystery fiction. That said, you’ve got to give your setting soul, and its population a heartbeat, for it to stand out; which is why Aoife Clifford’s “When We Fall” is so luminescent in a jam-packed field.

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Review: Second Sight by Aoife Clifford

second-sight-9781925596892_hr.jpgA superbly constructed, tautly-paced, wrenchingly suspenseful mystery by an author who has earned a place among the top tier of Australian crime writers.

Having escaped the confines of her small, coastal hometown, Eliza Carmody had few reasons to ever return. Feeling betrayed and isolated by her family who’ve remained in Kinsale, and haunted by the events of New Years Eve in 1996 when one of her closest friends — Grace — disappeared, Eliza has reinvented herself in the big city as a successful lawyer. Unfortunately for Eliza, her career-defining case — defending a large cooperation against a bushfire class action by the town decimated by the flames — forces her to confront her past. That town, which was almost wiped off the map? It’s Kinsale.

As Eliza travels into town to meet up with an expert witness, a horrendous road rage incident unfolds before her eyes, climaxing with a deadly assaulted perpetrated by her childhood friend, Luke Tyrell. Already offside with the locals as a consequence of the looming legal battle, Eliza’s natural curiosity to determine precisely what propelled Luke onto this dark path leads her into confrontations with various figures from her past: her sister; her brother-in-law, now the local cop; and her father, a former police officer, now unresponsive after a car accident. When bones are discovered at a historic homestead in town, Eliza is certain they’re linked to that fateful New Year’s Eve.

The overriding theme of present-day Australian crime fiction, as evidenced by recent blockbusters such as The Dry, Scrublands, The Dark Lake, and the soon-to-be-published Greenlight, is small towns haunted and mutated by buried secrets. In this regard, Second Sight maintains that trend. What impressed me most about Aoife Clifford’s novel second novel is: (a) how well-concealed those secrets are, (b) how much perfect sense they make when they’re revealed, and (c) the devastating impact the exposure of these secrets has on the parties involved.

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it” — a Flannery O’Connor quote that constantly resonates in my mind when I’m reading good crime fiction — could be this novel’s tagline. Second Sight is a virtuoso exploration of guilt and remorse; and a darn fine page-turner.

4 Star

ISBN: 9781925596892
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Australia
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Publish Date: 1-Jul-2018
Country of Publication: Australia