Cedar Valley

Holly Throsby

Cedar Valley
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Cedar Valley

Holly Throsby

From the author of the bestselling novel, Goodwood, comes a compelling mystery set deep within the hearts of Cedar Valley and its inhabitants.

‘He strolled down Valley Road, only briefly, past the hairdresser and a small cafe. A warm wind stirred, carrying with it the faint smell of pies and horses, and the man paused for just a moment before he sat down. Benny Miller would have driven right past him in her station wagon on that bright and brimming day.’

On the first day of summer in 1993, two strangers arrive in the town of Cedar Valley.

One is a calm looking man in a brown suit. He makes his way down the main street and walks directly to Cedar Valley Curios & Old Wares, sitting down on the footpath, where he leans silently against the big glass window for hours.

The other is 21-year-old Benny Miller. Fresh out of university, Benny has come to Cedar Valley in search of information about her mother, Vivian, who has recently died. Vivian’s mysterious old friend, Odette Fisher, has offered Benny her modest pale green cottage for as long as she wants it.

Is there any connection between the man on the pavement and Benny’s quest to learn more about her mother? Holly Throsby is the perfect guide as Cedar Valley and its inhabitants slowly reveal their secrets.

Review

Cedar Valley, Holly Throsby’s second novel, exists in the same world as her first novel, Goodwood. It’s an area a couple of hours south of Sydney, near the coast, near a large regional town, and very firmly situated in the early 1990s. Cedar Valley is a small town, seemingly much beloved by its inhabitants and oft visited by weekend tourists who come to enjoy antiquing and fantastic country pies. On this summer day, two new inhabitants arrive: Benny, a young woman who has just finished uni and is looking for sanctuary; and an unknown but extremely well-dressed man who sits down on the footpath and dies while people go about their afternoon.

In Cedar Valley Holly Throsby has crafted a quiet mystery which brims with the energy of its characters’ inner lives. Benny wants to know the mother she never knew. The local detective sergeant wants to solve the mystery of the unknown dead man more out of a need for activity and control than any sense of law and order. Cora, outside whose antique shop the man died, feels the stirrings of existential fear for the first time.

What is wonderful about Cedar Valley is the sense of a complete community. Throsby keeps a skilful pace, checking in with the towns inhabitants, both old and new. She moves you along so well at the pace of the people of Cedar Valley that you do not realise straightaway the ways in which she is subverting the expectations of the small-town mystery. Unlike the quiet small town with a mysterious death and a new arrival in which the visiting investigator solves the mystery, Cedar Valley, and before it Goodwood, solve their mysteries internally. All that you will learn in Cedar Valley you will learn from the inhabitants of Cedar Valley, old and new. And that is a very satisfying journey.


Marie Matteson is a book buyer at Readings Carlton.

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