Post Script: All These Perfect Strangers -Aoife Clifford

Things don’t go wrong in an instant. There isn’t one single moment when the world suddenly splits in two. Rather, it begins with a minute crack, and then another and another, until they join together, getting bigger and wider and all the time you keep fooling yourself that this can still be fixed. That you can fill them in and everything will return to normal.” p.130

All These Perfect Strangers

All These Perfect Strangers
Aoife Clifford
Simon & Schuster Australia
ISBN: 9781925310726

 

Description:
You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.

You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.

Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.

College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

 

‘This is a novel of disquieting intimacy and controlled suspense, Aoife Clifford deftly tightening the screws until we share the narrator’s sense of emotional and physical confinement and the unremitting grip of the past.’ – Garry Disher, author of Bitter Wash Road.

 

My View:
Things don’t go wrong in an instant. There isn’t one single moment when the world suddenly splits in two. Rather, it begins with a minute crack, and then another and another, until they join together, getting bigger and wider and all the time you keep fooling yourself that this can still be fixed. That you can fill them in and everything will return to normal.” p.130

These statements sum up this book perfectly; as tiny cracks make themselves known flaws appear in personalities, in personal histories, in retelling of events. I really like the device of the diary to tell parts of the dual timeline stories. The trouble is Pen Sheppard is such an unreliable narrator that we never quite know if we are being shown the truth or a version of the truth, Aoife Clifford has baited her hook well, as a reader we just want to know what the mystery is in Pen’s home town, we are hooked.

The narrative rolls on, more dead bodies are found, the plot twists and turns and we understand a little more about why Pen acts the way she does, how trust is an issue, why she thinks her truth is dangerous. And dangerous it is! There were a few surprises that I didn’t see coming.

However I felt the ending let me and Aoife Clifford down. I won’t share any spoilers but will say that the ending left so much unsaid, so many loose ends, and so much history that needed righting (and writing). Maybe it is a sign of my investment in the book but I wanted more from this ending – justice was not served, so many details needed revealing to the police, so much information the reader had needed to be shared. I don’t like being left hanging. Maybe a novella is in the pipeline that will tidy the ending up?

Regardless of my dissatisfaction with the ending of this book it is a good debut, Aoife Clifford is an author to look out for.

 

****Interview with writer here: https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgwE7PN3d6?play=true

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7 thoughts on “Post Script: All These Perfect Strangers -Aoife Clifford

  1. Oh, I know exactly what you mean by an ending that doesn’t resolve things. Those bother me, too. But still, what an interesting premise for a story, Carol. And I love that point that people often see college/uni as a time to reinvent themselves. I think a lot of young people do that.

  2. Pingback: Australia Day Mystery /Thriller Giveaway – Reading, Writing and Riesling

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