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Pheasants Nest (Louise Milligan, A&U)

Pheasants Nest is a thriller about every journalist’s nightmare—that they, too, will be reduced to clickbait headlines and long-form reflective true crime essays. There may be no more fitting journalist to author such a story than Louise Milligan, the award-winning investigative journalist for the ABC and author of the ground-breaking nonfiction books Cardinal: The rise and fall of George Pell and Witness. Like Milligan, the protagonist of this debut fiction novel, Kate, is an Irish-born Australian investigative journalist. While Milligan became part of the story as a witness in Pell’s committal hearing, Kate becomes the story when she goes missing. The reader is privy to the truth—that The Guy who felt shamed by Kate at a bar sexually assaulted and abducted her—but her family, friends, the police and journalists have their own theories. Kate’s boyfriend, Liam, struggles to convince the police that this is one case in which the boyfriend did not do it, while the media also latches onto this trope. An omniscient narrator weaves together the stories of major and minor characters, past crimes and happy memories. As a result, the novel covers the whole spectrum of human emotion, with Kate and Liam’s love story and well-placed gallows humour elevating the novel above other thrillers. This book is recommended for fans of compelling, convention-breaking crime fiction, such as Jacqueline Bublitz’s Before You Knew My Name.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Ilona Urquhart has a PhD in Literary Studies and currently works as a Children’s and Youth Services Librarian on the Bellarine Peninsula. She is Judge for the 2024–2025 CBCA Book of the Year Award, Younger Readers Category. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Friday Unlocked reviews Reviews