Stone Town

Margaret Hickey

Stone Town
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Stone Town

Margaret Hickey

With its gold-rush history long in the past, Stone Town has seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons …


When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a property developer, whose controversial plan to buy up local land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However, his gruesome murder is overshadowed by a mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsed.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook' Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

Following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game …

Review

A teenage boy takes a girl and her sister to Stone Town’s eerie bushland in the dark of night, in the hopes of impressing her with the alarming shrieks of a Barking Owl – but they find the dead body of local developer Aidan Sleeth instead. Sleeth’s death by gunshot sees local Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti working the case with two homicide cops from Adelaide who are, Mark thinks, too distracted by another case on their radar: missing police officer Natalie Whitsed, who disappeared after tracking the young wife of a gangland boss. All of Australia is following Natalie’s case, and now it’s interfering in Mark’s business too, not least when his sometime friend, Assistant Commissioner Angelo Conti, calls up with information that will shed new light on what’s happening in Stone Town.

Mark’s aware that nothing is cut and dried in the world of crime, and the events of Margaret Hickey’s previous bestseller, Cutters End, are still playing on his mind. Sleeth was a property developer in a place where land is worth more than just the money you can get for it – and rural Australian towns in crime fiction are not known for taking these kind of things lightly.

Hickey takes the genre of rural crime and runs with it: country fairs, a bush telegraph faster than police radio, long- held secrets, and extended drives to brutal crime scenes. Hickey’s work is gloriously free of stereotypes, leading to intriguing characters searching for the truth – or trying to hide it. Settle in with Stone Town, and if you hear a scream in the distance, it’s surely just a Barking Owl, dear reader – don’t you worry at all.


Fiona Hardy is a bookseller, author, and our monthly crime fiction columnist.

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