Dig Two Graves, Carolyn Morwood

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Back when we were all a quite a bit younger Carolyn Morwood had a couple of books out featuring Melbourne based, female, professional cricketer Marlo Shaw (AN UNCERTAIN DEATH and A SIMPLE DEATH). She followed that up more recently with the Eleanor Jones series, set around the time of World War I (DEATH AND THE SPANISH LADY and CYANIDE AND POPPIES). Her latest novel DIG TWO GRAVES has a more contemporary timeframe, and is set in Southern Spain around an artist's retreat / residency.

Leaning more towards the crimance sub-genre than the earlier books, DIG TWO GRAVES features six international artists - all specialists in different forms of art (writing / painting / sculpture etc) and their interactions, past / present and future. A tricky mix of ego's, insecurities, ability, jealousies and downright self-centredness the early part of the book sets up a cast that might leave you wondering how somebody is going to rise about the general horribleness to end up qualifying as a potential victim.

The quote at the start of the book explains the title:

'Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.' Confucius

Which is a particularly intriguing idea, built into a novel that's a slow burner. The hook in the early stages relies very heavily on the character build up. For reader's to stick with that long lead in these people have to grab or engage you. Their stories are littered with romantic angst, longing, regret and - let's be frank here - some really odd behaviour. For each person that repels or annoys, there could be another in the cast that engenders sympathy or interest. But there are a lot of perfectly unlikeable people here, and Morwood seems to be playing with people's conception of "artistic temperaments" as much as she is on the question of adults behaving flat out badly.

But ultimately DIG TWO GRAVES relies heavily on a descriptive, languid writing style, full of portents and observations, internal musings and a lot of that angst, longing and regret. This will be a novel that works incredibly well for fans of that style. 

Year of Publication

Six international artists are invited to a residency in southern Spain. What could possibly go wrong? 

Writer’s block and paintings of oranges. 

Love, lust, revenge.

A sculptor left for dead on the side of a mountain. 

Part love story, part thriller and wholly page-turning, Dig Two Graves shows us once again that ‘Morwood is a classy act.’ – The Australian 

For readers who like their crime/thrillers gore-free and more refined.

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