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Nail-biting, atmospheric and unputdownable,
the brilliant new thriller for fans of Wimmera and The Dry.

‘Reminiscent of Jane Harper’s The Dry and Chris Hammer’s Scrublands,
The Cane is perfect for fans of taut outback mysteries.’
Scott Whitmont, Books+Publishing

‘A stunning piece of Australian rural noir.’
Mark Brandi, bestselling author of Wimmera and The Rip

‘A fine, brave, perceptive writer.’
Mark Dapin, journalist and author of Public Enemies

Quala, a North Queensland sugar town, the 1970s.

Barbara McClymont walks the cane fields searching for Janet, her sixteen-year-old daughter, who has been missing for weeks. The police have no leads. The people of Quala are divided by dread and distrust. But the sugar crush is underway and the cane must be burned.

Meanwhile, children dream of a malevolent presence, a schoolteacher yearns to escape, and history keeps returning to remind Quala that the past is always present.

As the smoke rises and tensions come to a head, the dark heart of Quala will be revealed, affecting the lives of all those who dwell beyond the cane.

The Cane is an evocative and atmospheric thriller, and announces an exciting new voice in Australian crime writing.

Maryrose Cuskelly is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. She has lived in Melbourne for many years, but she was born in Queensland, where, in the early 1970s, there were several high-profile child abductions and murders. The disappearance of Mackay schoolgirl Marilyn Wallman, in particular, made a lasting impression on her. In 2016, Maryrose was awarded the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing (non-fiction) for her essay ‘Well Before Dark’ about Marilyn’s disappearance and the way it percolated through her own childhood and later life. The Cane returns to some of the themes and preoccupations of that essay.

In 2019, Maryrose’s book Wedderburn: A true tale of blood and dust (Allen & Unwin, 2018) was longlisted for Best Debut and Best True Crime in the 2019 Davitt Awards. She is also the author of Original Skin: Exploring the marvels of the human hide (Scribe, 2010) and The End of Charity: Time for social enterprise (with Nic Frances, Allen & Unwin, 2008), which was the winner of the Iremonger Award.

They’re lighting the cane and Janet McClymont has not been found.

A week after she disappeared, her mother Barbara walked into Jensens’ shop and bought every box of matches and all the Bic cigarette lighters on the shelves. She then stood outside striking the head of each and every match against the phosphorus strip, watching it flare before shaking out the flame and dropping the spent stick on the road … Read more




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