Darkness on the Edge of Town by Jessie Cole

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.