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Book 135: Angel Rock by Darren Williams

Book 135: Angel Rock.
Author: Darren Williams, 2002.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1960s Australia. Suspense. Crime Fiction.
Other Details: Paperback. 304 pages

In December 1969 two half-brothers become lost in the wild countryside around the small town of Angel Rock in the Australian outback. An extensive search reveals nothing. Then ten days later 13-year-old Tom, finds his way home though is in a disorientated state with no memory of what happened to 4-year-old Flynn. Darcy, a 16-year-old girl, goes missing from the town and is later found in Sydney an apparent suicide. Gibson, the detective assigned to the case, is a troubled man with a burning need to understand the meaning of this tragic death. He follows the trail back to Angel Rock where he finds that these events have stirred dark secrets within the town's residents.

I found this a well-crafted period mystery that made good use of its late 1960s setting in rural Australia. Its theme of the two boys going missing and one returning with no memory did have echoes for me of Joan Lindsay's 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' and this also heightened by the presence of dreams and spiritual elements, which were not overplayed within the narrative but felt very much a part of the essence of the landscape.

The novel was well received by our reading group generating discussion about various themes such as the role in such tales of a catalyst, in this case the presence of Sydney police detective Gibson, who as an outsider brings a unique perspective to the situation.
Tags: bildungsroman/coming of age, crime fiction, period fiction (20th century), suspense
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