Shelley Burr

Hachette Australia
30 August 2023


Shelley Burr

Gemma Guillory has lived in Rainier her entire life. She knows the tiny town's ins and outs like the back of her hand, the people like they are her family, their quirks as if they were her own.

She knows her once-charming town is now remembered for one reason, and one reason only. That three innocent people died. That the last stop on the Rainier Ripper's trail of death seventeen years ago was her innocuous little teashop. She knows that the consequences of catching the Ripper still haunt her police officer husband and their marriage to this day and that some of her neighbours are desperate - desperate enough to welcome a dark tourism company keen to cash in on Rainier's reputation as the murder town.

When the tour operator is killed by a Ripper copycat on Gemma's doorstep, the unease that has lurked quietly in the original killer's wake turns to foreboding, and she's drawn into the investigation. Unbeknownst to her, so is a prisoner named Lane Holland.

Gemma knows her town. She knows her people. Doesn't she?


The ‘Rainier Ripper’ murdered three people, 17 years ago. A truck driver was charged and jailed, and the small town of Rainier and its inhabitants have been trying to get on with their lives ever since. Now the town is dying, as regional Australian towns have so often done before, and some of those who live there are desperate enough to think that making their home a tourist destination for true crime fanatics is a good idea.

I promise you, it is not. Suddenly, we have another victim. Is it the work of a copycat killer, or something even more sinister? Our heroine, Gemma, long-time resident of Rainier and wife of the local cop, decides to take matters into her own hands when the police appear to be getting nowhere. Instead of emigrating to Moldova (as I certainly would have if I were a character in this book), she joins forces with an inmate who has access to the original ‘Ripper’ himself.

Gradually, pieces of the past come together to explain the motives of those around her in the present. When everyone in town knows everyone else, and nearly everyone is a suspect, all the secrets lying just below the surface are about to come to light. Throw in a stolen identity, a stranger in town, family resentments and first love and figuring out who dunnit is not going to be easy.

While Gemma is not quite Miss Marple, there are plenty of twists in this tale, and the complicated small-town relationships are completely absorbing. This is Shelley Burr’s second book, following her bestselling debut Wake, and I can’t wait to see what more she brings to a favourite genre.

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