On 4 February 1939, Connie Sommerlad was brutally butchered and her brother left for dead in their family farmhouse in rural Tenterfield.
It was a murder that would rock the tight-knit community; a murder made all the more shocking by the fact that their assailant was a local man working for the Sommerlads. Jack Kelly, who was to become the last person to be hanged in New South Wales, struggled to explain his awful crime even as he faced the gallows.
Yet this was far from the only mystery to be exposed by Connie's tragic end.
What really happened to Connie in those lost years between her move to Sydney as a young woman and her fateful return to her home town? And what was the secret so shameful that, even as Kelly stood trial for her murder, the Sommerlads conspired to keep it from the public record?
Vividly evoking small-town Australia in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II, Connie's Secret brings to life the story of a highly respectable family desperately trying to protect their talented but wayward daughter's reputation at a time when religion, virtue and maintaining appearances held sway over every thought and deed.
This fascinating insight into another era is written with the emotional force of a novel, but these events did happen - and their devastating impact continues to be felt by those left behind even today.