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The Fragments (Toni Jordan, Text)

In The Fragments, Toni Jordan has her characters set out to solve what truly happened to a brilliant, enigmatic author who died in a fire in New York in the 1930s … or did she? The author in question has left behind the scorched fragments of a second book, which survives to be exhibited 50 years later in a Brisbane art gallery. A young bookseller, Caddie, meets an elderly woman outside the exhibition who seems to divulge that she has read this second novel. Caddie is driven by instinct to investigate, enlisting the help of a sleazy university professor, who will make readers say a silent word of thanks for modern ‘zero tolerance’ sexual harassment policies, and a grumpy former academic, who seems to know more than he’s revealing. Jordan’s writing moves at a fast skip and her descriptions of retail shifts and pre-internet research processes are particularly convincing. It’s a treat to step back into 1980s-era Australia with her—and the ‘twist’ is satisfactory enough to tie everything up without leaving any stray clues behind.

Hilary Simmons is a former assistant editor at Books+Publishing and a freelance writer and editor

 

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