This beautiful work is titled “Australian Gum Trees, Bathurst” and was painted by Australian landscape artist Graham Gercken. It ties in with the audiobook I just finished called “Thornwood House” (reviewed below).
Set in Queensland, Australia in both 2006 and 1946, this is a novel of amateur detection with a little woo-woo thrown in.
Young mother Audrey is surprised that the late father of her child and her once-lover, Tony, has left her a property in the country. Always a loner, Audrey must now deal with grief, life upheaval, and a family she doesn’t know. Of course, there’s a hot guy nearby to liven up the atmosphere…
The book is a mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in. Audrey’s adopted family has had some major issues in the past, and she becomes obsessed with finding the answer to a decades-old murder. Flashbacks were done well and are appropriate to the plot.
The description is absolutely stunning here. Romer uses the house and surrounding forest like paint, creating dazzling art full of scents, sounds, and sights for the reader. The problem is that these illustrations are overwhelming, creating pauses in the story that throw us off the trail. There are just too many of them. I caught myself thinking, “another bell bird?” and “more gum trees?” The author is incredibly talented, but as an editor, I would have wrangled this tighter.
The plot is very good, and the mystery was drawn out well. I didn’t think the supernatural bits were necessary, but they didn’t overpower the story. Characters were very well described, which is so vital for this kind of book.
Eloise Oxer’s narration was excellent. Her characterizations were unique and I had no trouble telling who was speaking or narrating. (One of the male voices was just too, too dastardly to believe, but I ignored it.) Her timing was impeccable, and I would listen to her other work readily.
There is almost no sex (and certainly nothing graphic), implied violence, no foul language.