A Stone’s Throw Away by Karly Lane

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Karly Lane‘s latest book, A Stone’s Throw Away, according to the cover, is poignant, heart-warming and suspenseful – a compelling story of never giving up on your dreams. I cannot argue with this. The title does not reveal what the storyline is all about, unlike her original title – Bones in the Dam. Like many of the books she has had published since 2011, this story is about a determined young woman who finds herself in rural Australia.

Karly Lane tells fellow writer Fiona Palmer – I love the fast pace of a romantic suspense and the challenge of bringing your characters together under extreme stress. In a suspense everything happens fast, including the romance and because it happens in stressful situations—there’s usually lots of sparks flying.

Phillipa (Pip) Davenport, a journalist from Sydney, had just finished the hardest and most dangerous assignment she had ever undertaken and experienced the life-threatening results. Fearing everyone and everything and unable to progress on the story she is contracted to write, she heads to the countryside to housesit her uncle’s home, hoping the isolation will keep her safe and help her fulfill her obligation.

While battling her own demons, she discovers that the town nearby is biased against the previous property owner who now resides in the local nursing home. When a body is found in the dam on the property, all fingers in town point to him. Pip finds herself wanting to champion “Butcher Bigsby” who the townsfolk believe killed his wife and lover years ago. Through old letters from him to his young wife, Molly, while he is away, the reader learns about Australia’s war in Papua New Guinea.

Lane embraces inclusiveness with her character, Detective Chris Jarrett, who has Irish and Aboriginal heritage. His appearance adds tension with the local police and provides a love interest. The story highlights the extreme weather experienced by country Australia as well as the relationship between new and original residents in a small town, especially one where most of the shopfronts bear the same name as a Victorian Premier.

Karly Lane is an Australian author of women’s fiction whose works cover romantic suspense, family sagas and life in rural Australia. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she worked as a pathology collector and has had vast experience and success in self-publishing, adding a further eight books in different genres to her Rural Australian books published through Allen and Unwin.

For someone who confesses that she doesn’t always start out with any clear idea where her stories will go, she writes a very interesting story with multiple themes. In her Acknowledgement, she tells the reader, ‘I had no idea we’d end up in the jungles of Papua New Guinea or where that search would take me… (This is) such a little-known part of our wartime history and one that deserves to be remembered’. (358)

A Stone’s Throw Away

(2022)

by Karly Lane

Allen&Unwin

ISBN:978-1-76087-851-1

$29.99; 368pp

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