This one will get your attention!
An Isolated Incident
Pan Macmillan Australia
When 25-year-old Bella Michaels is brutally murdered in the small town of Strathdee, the community is stunned and a media storm descends.
Unwillingly thrust into the eye of that storm is Bella’s beloved older sister, Chris, a barmaid at the local pub, whose apparent easygoing nature conceals hard-won wisdom and the kind of street-smarts only experience can bring.
As Chris is plunged into despair and searches for answers, reasons, explanation – anything – that could make even the smallest sense of Bella’s death, her ex-husband, friends and neighbours do their best to support her. But as the days tick by with no arrest, Chris’s suspicion of those around her grows.
An Isolated Incident is a psychological thriller about everyday violence, the media’s obsession with pretty dead girls, the grip of grief and the myth of closure, and the difficulties of knowing the difference between a ghost and a memory, between a monster and a man.
PRAISE FOR EMILY MAGUIRE
“At the heart of … Emily Maguire’s work lies an urgent need to pull away at the interconnecting threads of morality, society and human relationships.” Sydney Morning Herald
“what you get, along with a sharp mind and a keenness to investigate cultural confusions, is an engaging ability to put the vitality of the story first.” Weekend Australian
My View: This one piqued my interest as you may well notice.
Shoot this one straight to the top of my list of “Best Reads of the Year”. Brilliant, masterfully written.
Raw, tough, agonizingly truthful… the male gaze is reflected in a mirror back to us. These reflections are a constant in our (women’s) everyday life, look around you will recognise it too! Misogyny, discrimination, entitlement, double values, violence or threats of violence, intimidation, judgments – the worthy/unworthy, beautiful/other… Women’s everyday experiences, decisions, choices are under scrutiny of the male gaze – women are judged on whether they wear makeup or not, clothes can be fashionable/slutty, friendliness mistaken for availability as a sexual toy, she discounts you – she is a tease, she is self-assured – she is a “ball breaker”… how can a woman win? How does a woman tell the good guys from the bad when they all wear the same disguise?
I think it is the “entitlement” that bothers me the most in this book (and in life). A woman walks down a street alone– she is cat called, whistled at, judged, sexualised. There is a lot of social media chatter about the unsolicited attention men thrust on women at the moment, which if she ignores quickly turns to insults and rage. (If I had more time I would write you an essay on these type of behaviours) There is a great example of this in the novel. The ugliness and ordinariness of entitlement goes like this; (May is jogging, alone, in suburbia);
‘Hey what you running for, sweet girl?’
May’s pace didn’t alter, her head remained high, her gaze trained at six feet ahead. She was used to running in the inner city, where dick heads calling from cars were background noise.
‘Aww, just a question. Why you running? Sweet arse like that, don’t wanna go running it away.’
She kept moving, taking the next left, focussing her mind on retracing her route, determining whether to loop back at the next corner or go another few blocks. She realises only two or three cars had passed since she’d left the main road, tried to picture the town map, figure out a more direct route back to her hotel.
A car turned from the opposite corner, came towards her, headlights on high beam, then no headlights at all. May’s vision flickered and swam. She noticed how dark it was, how few houses there were on this street…
‘Come on girl. Stop for a second. Just a second.’
The car was right behind her, engine revving, keeping pace.” (p. 49)
Sounds all too familiar to me.
Domestic violence is another behaviour is succinctly showcased in this novel – I love you, love you, love you… until you hurt me…or those around me…I love you but not the violence … “he’s a good bloke”( is he?) … until he isn’t. “He is a good bloke” (really?) …until he is provoked. Where is the responsibility? Vision is blinded when it comes to violence against women…he is a good bloke …he couldn’t possibly…
I think this is a book that will polarise. Those who tune out the politics will read a work of crime fiction, an intriguing and moving narrative of crime fiction. Those who absorb the depth of this writing will read a crime narrative set in a world of male entitlement, gender inequality, violence…a feminist’s tale.
Absolutely loved it!