Friday, November 2, 2018

An Isolated Incident

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire
Eye Books: 11/1/18
eBook review copy; 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9781785630835

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire is a highly recommended novel which focuses on an act of violence against a woman, the grief of losing a loved one, and media scrutiny of crimes against women.

Chris is a barmaid at a local pub in the small town of Strathdee, Australia. When her younger sister Bella is found brutally murdered, not only must Chris deal with her unimaginable grief and persistent questions of why Bella and who would do this, she also has to deal with the media storm that descends on the city. Her ex, Nate, comes to stand by her side as he also mourns Bella. Chris is a tough character who is used to using her assets, so to speak, to get better tips as well as other compensation. The community is silently judging her while upholding the proper, loveliness that was Bella. The whole town is mourning.

Reporters are ascending upon the town and are ruthless. May Norman is a reporter who has just broken up with her married lover and has been sent to Strathdee to cover the murder. She is writing about the crime while missing her lover and thinking about him a lot. Her goal is to get a one-on-one interview with Chris for more inside information to sell a bigger story. 

This is more an examination of the trauma that survivors experience when a loved one is murdered and there are no suspects. While the police investigation is certainly part of the story, the novel is not a murder mystery and does not carefully follow the investigation. Instead, chapters alternate between the points-of-view of Chris and May. The two women reflect upon their lives and what they are going through. Setting the murder aside, it is in many ways a novel of gender inequality and explores what many women encounter at the hands of men. There are also supernatural elements as Chris experiences what she feels is Bella's presence.

The writing is compelling and I wanted to find out what happened to Bella and who the perpetrator was, but the ending was actually a huge let down. The novel does conclude, but it's all rushed, matter-of-fact information.  This is an uneven novel that will hold your attention throughout, but you may feel as I did, dissatisfaction with the ending.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Eye Books.

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