Sue Lawrence has written a two-pronged historical mystery which combines elements of the well-recorded 1879 Tay Bridge Disaster in Dundee, Scotland with a parallel contemporary mystery occurring in Australia in 2015.
It is a book that melds two tales of disappearance, suspicion and lies showing the fortitude and character of two women living a century apart. Issues of survival and keeping children safe in a devastatingly changed world are underlying and obvious themes in both women’s lives. She has cleverly written the two timelines with differing levels of detail and emotional content adding to the suspense and mystery of the combined tale.
In 1879 Ann Craig with her two children, wait at home for her husband to return from work via a train. As she watches the bridge, the horror of the derailment unfurls before her eyes. In 2015 Fiona Craig wakes to find that her husband Pete has emptied their bank account and has disappeared. The two women are thrown into grief and disbelief as they attempt to find the whereabouts of both missing husbands.
It is a fast-paced novel that is hard to put down and is structured to keep it that way, using short chapters that ending at pivotal points in the stories. The stories are multi-layered and compelling in nature. There are many tendrils that seem to weave through the histories, with the landscapes of Scotland and local histories in both time frames playing important roles as the stories come to a dramatic conclusion. The ending however, seemed to be rushed and lacked the depth of character that had been building throughout the book.
A good read that will keep you turning the pages and then make you want to research the Tay Bridge Disaster once you have finished.
Reviewed by Leanne Caune
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Allen and Unwin
Released: February 2018