Darkness on the Edge of Town

Jessie Cole

Darkness on the Edge of Town
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Darkness on the Edge of Town

Jessie Cole

My dad, he collects broken things… Where other people see junk he sees potential… My dad collects broken people too…

Vincent is nearly forty years old, with little to show for his life except his precious sixteen-year-old daughter, Gemma: sensitive, insightful and wise beyond her years. When a stranger crashes her car outside Vincent and Gemma’s bush home, their lives take a dramatic turn. In an effort to help the stranded woman, father and daughter are drawn into a world of unexpected and life-changing consequences.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is a haunting tale that beguiles the reader with its deceptively simple prose, its gripping and unrelenting tensions, and its disturbing yet tender observations.

Review

One dark night, Vincent drives home from an evening out and finds an upturned car in front of his house. Standing beside it is a woman with a baby, limp in her arms. Paramedics take them away, but days later she hitchhikes back to his house, and soon his efforts to assist her see the ever-willing Vincent and his teenage daughter Gemma – both telling their story in an interlocking narrative – emotionally stripped bare.

As someone who had a baby only a couple of months ago, reading about someone suffering through the loss of a child was painful – I put this book down at first, but found myself coming back to it, wanting to know what happened to Rachel in her grief, and Vincent and Gemma as they offer their friendship to her.

Cole’s writing is evocative in its simplicity, the characters’ dialogue – sometimes grimy – as honest and real as Australia can be. Gemma’s struggles brought my own teenage years into sharp relief, and the need for Vincent to ‘mend’ the women he meets is touching and well-intentioned, but not always successful.

Not a crime book in the sense that most of Dead Write’s titles are, there is nevertheless an undercurrent of violence that will leave you tense. A gripping and heartbreaking read.


Fiona Hardy sells books and talks too much to customers at Readings Carlton, and puts together Dead Write for the Readings Monthly. She blogs haphazardly about movies and books (and sometimes music) and you can follow her on twitter - @readwatchtweet.

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