Musician Holly Throsby’s debut novel is set in the country town of Goodwood – ‘good for wood’, where timber had been the main source of income and employment. It is a typical rural community – ‘Horror did not visit Goodwood. Nor did sorrow – or not in the way we would come to know it so well’.
Narrated by seventeen-year-old Jean who lives there with her mother, close to her Nan, Pop, Uncle Mack, aunt and cousin. Mack is the local cop so is the front man when eighteen-year-old Rosie White disappears, and then the local butcher Bart McDonald, both in mysterious circumstances. Jean and her best friend George looked up to Rosie, being a whole year older and ‘something defiantly unapproachable about her’. Bart was liked by the whole community, other than Rosie’s step-father Carl White.
We are introduced to many of the community, with some detail, but not always depth. I would have preferred to know more about fewer characters, and I believe the story would still have held up as well.
Information about possible suspects and further evidence is given away slowly until the very end when the truth is revealed.
Throsby shows the town go from one of simplicity and optimism to one of uncertainty, suspicion and despair, where they all grieve in their different ways, people are not always who we think they are, and the skeletons in the closets start to come out.
Issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, adoption and sexuality are all tied up in this coming-of-age mystery that would be suitable for mature young adults and above.