Title: Catch Us the Foxes
Author: Nicola West
Published: July, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Content Warnings: Murder, cults, homophobia, mental illness, corrupt police force, misuse of medication
I received a copy of Catch Us the Foxes from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out …
Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small Australian country town
Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local newspaper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of her best friend – the town’s reigning showgirl, Lily Williams.
Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.
When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.
What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation.
Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way she could never have dreamed of.
Catch Us the Foxes is a book I desperately wanted to love, and there were certainly elements of the story that I liked a lot. That said, there were elements of the storytelling that also gave me pause.
Lo is an ambitious young woman who desperately wants to escape her small hometown and pursue her career as a journalist. When her friend, Lily, is murdered, Lo is the one to discover her body, complete with symbols carved on her back. When Lo’s father, the local police chief, covers up the markings, Lo knows something’s not what it seems, and then she ends up in possession of Lily’s journals, which suggest that the town is hiding a dark secret, Lo begins to investigate.
This book is deeply atmospheric and creepy. Nicola West certainly knows how to weave twist after twist until you don’t know who to believe or who might be behind the murder. The setting felt claustrophobic and frightening, as though Lo didn’t have anyone she could turn to. Many of the characters seem to secrets and motives and Lo is constantly trying to unravel both.
I also found the storytelling style – and epilogue and prologue in the present day – and the chapters in between told as a true crime recount novel written by Lo to be fascinating. Ultimately though, it felt like the prologue needed a lot more to support the final twist at the end. It was also an interesting choice on the part of author to set this in a real town, Kiama. While it didn’t bother me so much, I was surprised, because typically with a story like this you’d have a fictional town based on a real one.
The book talks a lot about characters dealing with mental illnesses, however, it always comes up tangentially without delving into it in depth or exploring the effects of it. It was used as a plot device , which, while effective in throwing doubt on some of the characters’ motives, didn’t always sit right me. Similarly, there are queer characters who experience extreme homophobia and bullying from the town residents. Most of the time, they didn’t feel like that had a true purpose other than to show the small-mindedness of people.
Overall, I have conflicting feelings about the book. As a thriller, it’s a solid page-turner, but I think there’s still some room for improvement. It’s a good debut and I’m interested in seeing what Nicola West brings out next.