Darwin, Summer, 1963.
The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn't need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn't know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.
Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn't who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.
Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.
STILL is an evocative, page-turning thriller from a brilliant Australian writer. If you loved THE DRY and SCRUBLANDS, you will love STILL.
Apart from the fact that there was an awful lot of swilling beer in an unforgiving climate, this was an excellent thriller/suspense story. I would have given this 5 stars but it was hard to get my head around the fact that literally everyone drank. Not one cuppa! It was very clever in extricating the finale. Racial prejudice prevailed throughout, as did corruption, deceit, the church coverup, brutality & threats. A broad spectrum held tightly together. Excellent & I look forward to reading more from the author.
Loved the raw honesty took you there amongst it.random reads
Good yarn well told
The author is an Australian film and television actor, writer, sports commentator and former professional rugby league player. This is his third novel. I liked the first two, We Don't Live Here Anymore (2009), and Faces In The Clouds (2011).
The setting is Darwin in the summer of 1963. The title refers primarily to the still in the air that precedes the regular tropical storms in the Top End, although there are other ways it could be construed as well. DSC Ned Potter is an honest young copper with a wife and baby at home, who is a junior member of corrupt CI branch that’s in cahoots with a powerful, well connected, but decidedly dodgy local mayor. It’s enough to drive a man to drink, which has never been a particularly long drive drive in Darwin. White women and local aboriginals, especially half castes, are systematically discriminated against. After some aboriginal men start turning up dead in what appear to be decidedly unsavoury circumstances, our boy is eager to investigate, but is prevented from doing so by his boss, who favours the “Nothing to see here, folks,” style of policing. The influence of the Roman Catholic Church is pervasive, represented by the almost-mandatory-in-fiction pedophile priest. Sprinkle in abusive husbands, brown snakes, and hungry crocodiles and there’s plenty for Mr Nable to be going on with. Forced to resign from the police force, and with his marriage in tatters, our boy eventually manages to bring the baddies down and get some justice for the oppressed.
The author’s evocation of Darwin, its environs, and people is right up there with the Aussie bush noir of Jane harper and Chris Hammer. There’s violence aplenty (Mr N is a an ex-rugby league player, remember), along with the ever-present smell of rot and damp. Occasional words or phrases seemed out of sync with the historical period but not many. Overall, I found the dialogue extremely convincing and possibly the best part, although it’s far from pretty. The ever present issue of race was convincingly portrayed for the time period, with no need for heavy handed authorial commentary. The ending, while satisfying, felt a little rushed to me.
A good yarn well told, although probably a tad violent for some. I foresee a screen adaptation in the not too distant future.