Crows Nest by Nikki Mottram

Reviewed by Gail McDonald

The author of Crows Nest, Nikki Mottram, studied psychology at the University of Queensland and worked in London and Australia in positions protecting and promoting the welfare of children at risk of harm. In this, her debut novel, she draws on her knowledge and experience in child protection to promote a positive representation of social workers working in this field, particularly regarding issues affecting local communities.

In this novel, Dana is the new social worker with the Department of Families in Toowoomba, a country town west of the capital of Queensland. Her arrival is filled with sadness and dread. Sadness that she has left her husband behind in Sydney following the death of her six month old baby. And dread in that she doesn’t know what cases are facing her when she arrives. She knows she cannot work any child protection case that involve harm to a baby as her grief over the death of her own child is just too raw.

In her favour is the fact that Toowoomba is a familiar place to her; after all she had lived there during her teenage years, so she feels somewhat comforted by that. She has arranged to rent a small cottage in the town from Susan which is to be her refuge. Susan is a grandmother who is caring for her grandson Angus.

The first case that she is allocated involves a family at Crows Nest, a small rural town with a population of just 1600. A place where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

The visit to the family followed a report from a neighbour who had called the Department because of screams coming from the house late into the night. During this ruckus, one of the children required stitches when she was hit by a plate thrown by mum Sandra. At the visit Dana meets Sandra and her friend Debbie.

The visit goes well despite Dana discovering a baby in the house that the Department was not aware of.  Dana and her colleague Keely determine that Sandra is a very stressed mum who needs additional support to help the family.

The next day the bodies of Sandra and her friend Debbie are found in a car in bushland just outside Crows Nest.

The police make a hasty decision on the cause of death and who carried out the crimes, which Dana does not agree with.

Dana commences her own investigation of the deaths with the help of her young neighbour Angus and a somewhat reluctant police officer. Dana uncovers various scenarios for who is responsible for the deaths and in the process puts herself and her cohorts in danger.

During the investigation she discovers buried secrets, bitter tensions and corruption within the small town and its people.

Despite the threat to her job and her own personal issues and the kidnapping of Angus she continues the investigation and eventually the true culprit is identified.

This was an enjoyable book with a very believable plot and with enough action and intrigue to keep the reader engaged.  A really good read from a debut author and I would recommend it to readers who want thrilling crime story.

Crows Nest


by Nikki Mottram


ISBN 978 070226 577 8

$32.99; 320pp


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