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Three young women disappear from outside the Autostrada nightclub in the Perth suburb of Claremont. Two decades later, in the tropical town of Broome, the disappearance of a mining magnate’s daughter and a spate of local thefts put Snowy Lane and Detective Inspector Dan Clement back on the trail of a notorious serial killer.
A gripping new novel from last year’s winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction.
What was your motivation in telling this story? What is the relationship of your work of fiction to the actual Claremont serial killings?
For a long time I had resisted the idea of doing anything that used the Claremont serial killings as a touchstone, although it was clear that no case since Eric Cooke had so affected the psyche of the city. However, a few years ago I was visited in Sydney by cold-case detectives on that case who said some people had actually nominated me as a suspect! This made the case personal, and with twenty years passed and still no apparent progress, I thought it a good time to dive into a novel that could use that emotional connection I had with the case, and that resonated with the city where I grew up.
I was looking to write about the effect that such a terrible case has on those connected to the victims and those who investigate, and those who live in the city. As I have done before (City of Light, Big Bad Blood) I began to make up a fictional story that grabbed bits and pieces of known real events. Remarkably, it appears that one of the earlier crimes I chose to make the cornerstone of Snowy’s case in this novel, actually may well be a factor in the real case. Snowy’s detective nose was correct. That being said, I have no more knowledge of anything about the real case than anybody else who has read news reports.
This is not a book about the Claremont serial killings and I hope that it will be read by many, many people who have no knowledge of the real events. This is a fictional novel with a focus on how a terrible crime affects us all and what it makes us consider about our own humanity and the world in which we live.
What were the challenges in using, as a springboard, a story that has such a strong connection to one aspect of this state’s identity?
The biggest challenge is to write a novel that communicates the intensity of the effect of this crime on anybody touched by it, without it being about that crime; to transfer the visceral reaction we have to something that is real into a work of fiction.
Read an excerpt here.
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