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"An Isolated Incident" is the stunning latest novel by Australian writer Emily Maguire. Although it’s not a crime novel or a whodunnit, the story opens with the discovery of 25-year-old Bella Michaels’ body, brutally mangled by the side of the freeway heading out of a small Australian town somewhere west between Sydney and Melbourne. Bella’s sister, Chris, is our protagonist: divorced bartender turned accidental prostitute. She is outwardly tough and fiery but still reeling from the breakdown of her marriage when her sister is murdered.
During the book, we never find out exactly what has happened to Bella, which keeps the mystery bubbling but also shifts the focus gently away from the violence of murder, to the everyday violence alive and well within the small town. The story becomes not about finding out the identity of the criminal, but about the community’s reaction to such a harrowing event. "An Isolated Incident" is an intelligent commentary on toxic masculinity, domestic violence and hypocrisy. When men spit at the feet of killers and rapists, but go home to hit their wives, what happens to our society? What does it mean when these characters pay Chris for her “services”, yet fantasise about Bella the “virgin”, suggesting the criminal might have been drawn to her innocence? Is it a double standard for “the other woman” in an affair to be scorned, while the man who regularly cheats on his partner is hailed a hero?
Whether you want to call it a psychological thriller or a portrait of a small outback town, "An Isolated Incident" is an important book by a local female author that is well worth reading. I couldn’t put it down and will be thinking about it for years to come.
This book will make you question why any book ever needs to be over 200 pages. With beautifully descriptive writing, an intriguing plot, realistic characters and an adventure that will have you hooked from start to finish, do not be deceived by this seemingly small book. A fresh spin on the classic portal fantasy trope, revealing what happens after the magical adventure is over. How do you belong in the real world after living your wildest fantasy? With new books being released every year, this series keeps getting better and better and is one you don’t want to miss!