After the Darkness by Honey Brown, Viking, $29.95
There's a sense of foreboding craftily interwoven with the darkness of sexual desire running right from the first to the last sentence in this achingly powerful suspense thriller.
Although it takes a while to realise how every tiny observation and throwaway comment forms a tile in the mosaic of the life story that builds for Trudy and Bruce Harrison following one fateful day on the winding coastal route back from a stolen moments holiday together, reading through a second time reveals just how sharp the storytelling is here.
Author Honey Brown, whose own life changed in a moment when a traumatic farmyard accident when she was 28 left her struggling with a new existence as a paraplegic, knows only too well the potency of a world turned upside down by a single incident and in After the Darkness she explores this idea to its fullest.
Driving home back to their children and successful life as property developers, Bruce and Trudy are lured by the Ocean View gallery, perched teasingly on the cliff edge. It seems innocent enough but as we draw closer to this isolated edifice you can sense the portent of things to come.
Despite Trudy's growing misgivings the passion-drunk couple mistily head to their oblivion. Once inside the pace picks up.
The severity of what comes next delivers perfect dramatic irony with the reader longing to scream "behind you….get out of there!"
Trapped, brutalised and utterly terrified, one thing is certain: Trudy and Bruce will never know what security feels like again.
Eventually they do get out of there but not before experiencing untold horror and pushing themselves to do things they never could have believed they'd be capable of.
And the chase has only just begun. Should Trudy and Bruce turn themselves in to the police and how will they conceal what has happened from their children?
Honey Brown's genius is in the way in which her story-telling is dictated by her characters — just when you think you have a handle on how things are going she shifts gear exposing the dark places in their souls.
If there's one criticism of this switchback ride it's that the ending doesn't do justice to what has gone before, but the journey is certainly enthralling.
About the author
Australian mother of two Honey Brown is 40 this month and has been writing novels since an accident forced her to reassess her life and left her wheelchair bound.
She won the Arealis Award with her first novel Red Queen and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award for her second — The Good Daughter.
"My inspiration for After The Darkness came after holidaying on the Great Ocean Road with my husband," says Honey.
"We visited an art gallery with an ocean view and there was a moment when I was alone in a section of the gallery, and an eerie feeling came over me.
"I remember the vertical cliff faces down to the ocean, and thinking of how they could be used to cover up a murder."
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