I don’t like the cover of this book and I’m one of those people who tend to judge a book by it’s cover. I didn’t read the back cover, either. It just sat idle until my deadline was approaching. Luckily, the my enjoyment of this book was enhanced by having no preconceptions.
This book is very, very good. It’s written in both the first and third person, so it has a great tension between the character whose thoughts you know – Melanie Barrick – and everyone else, who may or may not believe Melanie to be guilty of various things. Some may themselves be guilty of these same or other things yet to be revealed.
Melanie, a former foster child, has clawed her way through life and a university degree into a normal, if busy, existence as a suburban wife, mother and, perhaps surprisingly, trucking company dispatcher. She heads off to pick up her baby from day care only to find Social Services have removed the child into foster care.
That moment in the book, just ten pages in, is almost a peak: from there you feel like you are a snowball rolling downhill, gathering characters and situations and momentum. You’re never sure if you’re going to come to rest at the bottom or roll off a steep cliff face altogether.
Reading this book, you’ll find characters to love, to hate, to pity and to puzzle over. You’ll probably guess a few twists but others will confound you. As in the best books, some characters will surprise you and some won’t.
Brad Parks has written eight books in all, according to the jacket, and he’s got plenty of quality craft here on display. Look out for his cheeky namecheck of his own Carter Ross series in one scene.
I’m going to make sure I get hold of at least a few of the others, and I commend this one to anyone who likes a good crime novel. You had better plan on reading it fast.
Reviewed by Robert Godden
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: April 2018
RRP: $29.99 paperback