Title: A Stone’s Throw Away
Author: Karly Lane
Published: May 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Content warnings: assault (off page, historical), child abuse/rape (off page, historical), war (off page, historical)
I received a copy of A Stone’s Throw Away from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A pitch-perfect new rural romance from the bestselling author of Once Burnt, Twice Shy.
When a drought dries up the contents of a dam on her uncle’s property, investigative journalist Phillipa ‘Pip’ Davenport is astonished at what she finds.
On a deadline and with a severe case of writers’ block, Pip turns away from her immediate interest in the waterhole’s contents. However, the universe and her neighbour seem to have other ideas. And then there’s the mysterious detective assigned to the case who Pip is beginning to find very distracting.
When the only person of interest is a local ninety-eight-year-old war veteran, Pip feels drawn back to the case despite her crazy schedule. But how often does a cold case murder land on your doorstep?
More questions arise as long-buried secrets suddenly emerge with some hard truths for the little town to face. Meanwhile, Pip finds that she must also face her past in order to see the truth clearly.
Karly Lane is back with a new romantic fiction novel set in rural Victoria, and it was an absolute treat to be back in one of her stories.
Pip Davenport is a successful investigative journalist who’s just finished the story of a lifetime – the uncovering of political corruption – which led to threats made to her life. Pushed by her friends and family to take some time to herself to rest and recover from her ordeal, she house-sits for her uncle in Midgiburra, with a plan to write the book she’s been putting off for the last year. But when the drought uncovers the bones of a body hidden in the dried up dam behind her uncle’s property, Pip is drawn into the mystery surrounding the previous owner of her uncle’s home, the small town’s suspicions and more than one unsolved mystery.
This was a surprisingly light read for the content, and highly engaging. Karly Lane knows how to write the every day person – the kind of character who draws you in because they remind you of your friends and family – getting caught up in something bigger than themselves. Pip is a tenacious woman who’s lived through something horrific and is still dealing with the trauma of that, supported by friends and family. She’s also determined to be independent and not bogged down by her experiences. She can’t help but be intrigued by this new mystery that’s dropped into her lap, despite knowing she has other priorities, because she sees the human element behind it.
There was the hint of a love triangle (in that two men take an interest in Pip) with local police officer, Erik Nielson, and local detective, Chris Jarrett, being involved in uncovering who the bones belong to and what happened to them. There’s a tension between the two of them that Pip doesn’t know the story of at first, and as the story unravels, begins to piece together. She’s not quite sure who to trust, and given that she’s in the middle of nowhere on her own, creates some eerie moments at pivotal points.
One thing Lane does incredibly well is weave some of Australia’s history through her stories – through character histories and flashbacks and letters. One of the characters that Pip begins investigating is Bert, a WWII veteran, who returned to Midgiburra a changed man after the battle of Rabaul. While it’s not a main plot thread, it impacts on the way the story plays out as Pip learns more and adds an extra layer of depth to the story that draws you in.
As always, I’m highly impressed by Lane’s ability to write compelling, entertaining and emotional storylines that hook me in right from the start.