For fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry or Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, a searing debut crime novel set in the Australian outback, where the grief and guilt surrounding an unsolved disappearance still haunt a small farming community…and will ultimately lead to a reckoning.
The tiny outback town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of Australia. Once a thriving center of stockyards and sheep stations, years of punishing drought have petrified the land and Nannine has been whittled down to no more than a stoplight, a couple bars, and a police station. And it has another, more sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of young Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago.
Mina McCreery’s life has been defined by the intense public interest in her sister’s case—which is still a hot topic in true-crime chat rooms and on social media. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family’s sunbaked destocked sheep farm.
Enter Lane Holland, a young private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Before she died, Mina’s mother funded a million-dollar reward for anyone who could explain how Evelyn vanished from her bed in the family’s farmhouse. The lure of cash has only increased public obsession with Evelyn and Mina—but yielded no answers.
Lane wins Mina’s trust when some of his more unconventional methods show promise. But Lane also has darker motivations, and his obsession with the search will ultimately risk both their lives—and yield shocking results.
Compulsively readable, with an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, WAKE is a powerful, unsparing story of how trauma ripples outward when people’s private tragedies become public property, and how it’s never too late for the truth to come out.
My thoughts: this story unfolds slowly, both Lane and Mina have kept things secret, things that help build up the truth about what really happened to Evelyn. It’s only when they start being honest, with each other and the police, that answers surface.
The stark landscape of Mina’s family farm, the small town that she’s stayed in despite her isolation, the world she’s built for herself, letting no one in, isolates her. Lane has also isolated himself – only his sister in his life.
The story is intense and insidious, layer after layer of secrets, lies and finally the truth is peeled open. Clever and compelling, it’s not hard to see why this won the Debut Dagger at the CWAs.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.