Friday Book Whimsy: The Silence

For some reason, despite living right now in one of the most difficult times in my life thanks to COVID-19, the book styles of my choice has been mysteries and thrillers. Susan Allott’s debut novel The Silence caught my eye, and then delivered big time.

It’s 1997, and Isla Green — newly sober and hanging on by a thread — receives a phone call from her father Joe. He tells her that their old neighbor (and Isla’s babysitter) Mandy, who has been missing for 30 years — has been discovered, unfortunately dead. She had been in a troubled marriage, and most people believed she had fled and started a new life somewhere. Unfortunately for Joe, he is believed to be the last one to see her prior to her going missing, and therefore has become the prime suspect.

Isla reluctantly returns to the former home in Australia that she had gladly fled years before to provide support for her father. She is surprised when she learns that her mother isn’t so sure that her father isn’t guilty.

Isla begins looking into things, and it isn’t long before she starts learning family secrets — both about her father and her mother, but also about her neighbor Mandy and Mandy’s husband Steve.

Allott’s novel delve into substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness, but in a way that is intelligent, and not preachy. One of the saddest facets of the story was learning that the colonial Australians — under the guises of good will — would remove without permission children of Aboriginal natives who they believed could live a better life in a white family. It was very sad.

The Silence provided me a meaty read with plenty of clever and surprising twists and taught me a few things to boot. I liked the book very much.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Lost Man

While visiting the Australian outback is on many people’s bucket list, it has never been on mine. Even visiting the less remote areas of Australian doesn’t particularly appeal to me.

Having said that, one of the things I most enjoyed about The Lost Man, by Jane Harper, was its Australian outback setting. It gets to be a cliché, but nevertheless, the weather conditions and the wilderness (and all things that go along with that) definitely play a strong role in this amazing mystery.

I’m very familiar with Jane Harper and her excellent writing from her series that also takes place in Australia, perhaps because this British-born author now resides in that country. Her two-book (so far) series (The Dry and Force of Nature) features federal agent Aaron Falk, who runs into all sorts of trouble in a much more populated area of Australia.

In this unrelated novel, Nathan and his brother Bubs Bright, who own adjoining cattle property, are dealing with the apparent suicide of their middle brother Cameron. By appearances, Cameron headed out into the outback, abandoning his car that has all of the necessary supplies to keep him alive. The police are calling it a suicide. Nathan and Bubs disagree, and they think it was murder, and begin to investigate.

The more they look into the matter, the more secrets they uncover. Family secrets that many would like to see buried.

Harper’s writing is amazing, and I found myself with this book, like the Aaron Falk series, finishing a chapter and being unable to refrain from starting the next.

I found the book’s ending satisfactory, though not a complete surprise, at least for me. As for traveling to Australia, after reading the book, I believe the reader will either want to book the next flight or never want to visit Australia, EVER.

It’s a great read.

Here is a link to the book.