The setting: 1932, Razorhurst. Two competing mob bosses - Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson - have reached a fragile peace.
Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.
Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson's 'best girl'. She knows the highs and lows of life, but she doesn't know what this day has in store for her.
When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna's latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie's new protector. But Dymphna's life is in danger too and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy's ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living.
Gloriana Nelson's kingdom is crumbling and Mr Davidson is determined to have all of Razorhurst - including Dymphna. As loyalties shift and betrayal threatens at every turn, Dymphna and Kelpie are determined to survive what is becoming a day with a high body count.
'Vivid and bloody and bold and fast; I feel like Razorhurst is in my bones now.' Elizabeth Gilbert
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ghosts live among the flesh-and-blood “breathers” who inhabit Sydney’s mean streets in this gripping tale set during the bloody Razor gang wars of the ’20s and ’30s. Kelpie is a scrappy street urchin whose fate intertwines with Dymphna Campbell, a great beauty employed by notorious gangster Gloriana Nelson. Shifting between the two main characters’ perspectives, Razorhurst is the best kind of historical fiction, blending fascinating real-life facts and figures with a vivid and thrilling storyline.
In a place like Razorhurst a slum of 1932 Sydney, where guns are outlawed and men kill with blades it's little surprise that Kelpie and Dymphna meet over the slit throat of a dead body. Though circumstance unites them, the girls couldn't be more different: street urchin Kelpie stumbles upon Jimmy Palmer's corpse while looking for food. Dymphna, though a teenager, looks and acts like an adult woman: she's the top-earning prostitute in Glory Nelson's criminal empire, and Jimmy is only the most recent of the dead lovers who have earned her the nickname "Angel of Death." But both girls can see ghosts, and thanks to the cascading effects of Jimmy's murder, both may die before the day ends. Larbalestier (Liar) packs plenty of danger into the single day this novel covers, but frequent interludes of backstory keep things from feeling rushed. The narrative also benefits from a colorful, well-rendered cast, human and ghost alike. While the writing style calls to mind fiction of an earlier era, this story's interwoven intrigue and empathy make it feel timeless. Ages 14 up.