Wake by Shelley Burr

This is a year of truly brilliant Australian crime fiction debuts, and Shelley Burr’s Wake ranks right among them. Not only is it clever, devious and morally complex, but its roller-coaster plot will keep you guessing until the final page.

The nuts and bolts of Wake will be familiar to any reader with an infinitesimal knowledge of the Australian crime genre. Once again, we are in a small, drought-ridden town. This time it’s Nannine, sparsely populated, infamous for the unsolved disappearance of Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago, when she vanished from the bedroom she shared with her twin sister Mina.

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Wild Dogs by Michael Trant

Gabe Ahern is your archetypal action hero from the school of hard knocks — physically battered, emotionally scarred, encumbered with a flickering moral compass. Haunted by the role he played in his wife’s death, now a recluse with a limp and a drinking problem, he makes a living trapping wild dogs for local station owners in the rugged Western Australia terrain; sometimes legally, oftentimes not. He wants nothing to do with anybody. He stays away from them, and they stay away from him.

Until.

Until.

C’mon — you know there’s always an until in a novel like this, when the reclusive hero is drawn into somebody else’s drama; something only they can solve.

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Review: Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

Multifaceted and layered, elegiac yet intensely compulsive, Dirt Town is quite simply one of the best, most sustained pieces of crime fiction I’ve read in some time ― and I’ve read some good ones lately. Hayley Scrivenor has reconfigured familiar components into a mystery focused more on character development than on reaching its “big reveal,” or “whodunit.”

In Durton, a small country town in Australia dubbed “Dirt Town” by its children, twelve-year-old best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together on a Friday, and separate on their way home. Only Ronnie makes it back, and five days later, her best friend’s body is discovered, buried and wrapped in plastic. So who killed Esther Bianchi?

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