Catch Us the Foxes (Nicola West, S&S)
Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson is an ambitious young journalist given the job of covering the annual show for the local paper. When Lo discovers the body of her friend, reigning showgirl Lily Williams, with strange symbols carved into her back, the town’s police chief instructs Lo not to reveal this detail to anyone. Given that the police chief is also her father, Lo has little choice but to do as he says. Torn between listening to her father, suspecting him of covering up the crime and wanting to find the truth about her friend’s murder, Lo uncovers a small town full of secrets, a possible cult and a much darker undercurrent to the community she thought she knew. Told in short, rapidly paced chapters, as a story within a story (Lo is first introduced as a journalist turned successful true crime author revisiting the big story that brought her fame and notoriety), this metafictional tale is packed with unexpected twists that will keep the reader intrigued. Nicola West’s debut novel introduces a bold, headstrong yet vulnerable protagonist in Marlowe, and the pages spark with cracking dialogue. The small-town setting of Kiama works well here, with comparisons already being made to The Dry, and there is a hint of Twin Peaks to be found in the cast of colourful characters.
Deborah Crabtree is a Melbourne-based writer and bookseller.