The Fall Between, Darcy Tindale

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

THE FALL BETWEEN is the debut novel from Darcy Tindale, set in the Muswellbrook area, located in the NSW Upper Hunter Valley. The story features Detective Rebecca Giles, who, after some time in the police force, has returned to her home town in no small part because her father, an ex-cop himself, is suffering a debilitating disease.

When the report of a missing twelve-year-old, Kayleen Ellis, comes in, Giles has just finished interviewing a petty criminal, known colloquially as Sticky Pete, about the very flashy ring his missus has recently been waving around. As reported by an upstanding member of the community, the general consensus being somebody underwhelmed by Mrs Pete's bragging. Giles heads immediately to the young girl's house to join the search, that is now consuming a lot of police time and resources. So she's a bit of an instant hero when Kayleen is found, safe, well and hiding out in tricky circumstances next door, with a cache of stolen goods into the bargain. Although nobody twigs that on the way to being found, Kayleen's done a bit of petty thieving of her own. 

Mind you, nobody has much time to pay attention, as the body of a young woman is found in very peculiar circumstances, trussed in barbed wire, lying in a cattle trough. In the heat of November, the body has been there for a while before it's found, which makes the recovery very offputting. To say nothing of the thump over the head that Giles takes from a mysterious somebody that the local farmer who reported it first, reckons was lurking in the area. Giles isn't so convinced by his story, and is so unimpressed with the idea that he's been dragging her around by the hair, hauls off and punches him. Which leads to some tricky complaint handling, a weird crime scene, an unfathomable motive and, eventually an even more inexplicable copy-cat murder that's, well, half-arsed is the best way to explain it.

So a lot going on for a small town, enough to make you wonder whether Giles returning to her home town wasn't such a great thing for the town after all. But she does a great line in determined doggedness, even if some of her personal choices are less satisfactory. But even allowing for moments of daftness, she's an interesting character with a complicated past, a father that she's very close to, and a lot of questions about the drowning death of her mother in a major flood, that ripples out into the current day. The sense of place is also strong, without being overplayed . This is hot, dry, regional Australia, farming country and small towns, people who are interconnected with that place, and each other over many generations. It's very well depicted, without being overplayed as is the way with just about everything in this novel. There's a lot going on, none of it is overdone, and none of it feels contrived or constructed to create a novel shoehorned into the rural noir world. In the end, it was easy to forgive Giles a few moments, and to await her return with anticipation.


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On a hot November morning, the first body lies in a cattle trough . . . It will be another two hours before rigor mortis sets in. Until then, the slim fingers will float below the water’s surface, gently bobbing, beckoning Detective Giles to come and find her.

Detective Rebecca Giles has just finished interviewing aging petty crim Sticky Pete over a spate of break-and-enters when a disturbing new report comes in. Twelve-year-old Kayleen Ellis has vanished from her home in Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Hours later, Giles is a local hero, having apparently solved Kayleen’s case and the spate of jewellery thefts.

Yet the hangover from her celebrations has barely kicked in when the body of young jillaroo Ava Emmerson is discovered in gruesome circumstances on a nearby farm.

Giles is convinced the link between all three cases lies in the town’s tragic history, perhaps even in her own mother’s mysterious drowning thirty years ago.

In a place where nothing much changes, suddenly a great deal is happening - and Giles’s life and career are now on the line.

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