The Great Divide, L.J.M. Owen
In THE GREAT DIVIDE, L.J.M. Owen has set what seems to be the first of an intended new series in the atmospheric location of a small Tasmanian town with plenty of past secrets just waiting to come back to haunt new and old residents alike.
Atmosphere is the word when it comes to describing THE GREAT DIVIDE. From deep fog, to mysterious old buildings, and damp and sinister feeling vineyards, there is much in this novel that's going to hook a reader's interest. Add the new cop in town, mainlander Detective Jake Hunter, an old family with plenty of inter-generational tension, and a gruesome murder near to the old 'bad girls home', and readers will soon be knee deep in secrets, lies, guilt and some very nasty past events. Enough to rock everyone, not least of all Jake Hunter himself.
Taking full advantage of the interest in Australian rural crime that's building at the moment, but moving that away from the heat, the drought, and the deprivation often used in recent novels, deep into the damp, oppressive darkness of a rural Tasmanian location provides all sorts of opportunities for Owen to use setting as a major character. There's plenty of past history to infect current behaviour, there's locations that have used questionable practices for enough years to make you wonder whether locals have developed a fine line between ignore and condone, and then there's weather - nothing like pea-souper fogs and cold, rainy dark days to create just the right setting for old secrets to lurk about in. The development of Jake Hunter as a central character has enormous potential as well, he's a good, solid sort of a cop, with enough of a past to be interesting, and to provide a nice echo to the idea that there's past to everything and everybody and it always affects the present.
In the rural Tasmanian town of Dunton, the body of a former headmistress of a children’s home is discovered, revealing a tortured life and death.
Detective Jake Hunter, newly-arrived, searches for her killer among past residents of the home. He unearths pain, secrets and broken adults. Pushing aside memories of his own treacherous past, Jake focuses all his energy on the investigation.
Why are some of the children untraceable? What caused such damage among the survivors?
The identity of the murderer seems hidden from Jake by Dunton’s fog of prejudice and lies, until he is forced to confront not only the town’s history but his own nature…