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Darkness Runs Deep by Claire McNeel

The opening of this novel is compelling and immediately draws the reader into the action when a blook-soaked teenager flees from the rural Gerandaroo football oval. But the reader doesn’t really know what has happened until Bess, a young teacher, returns to this small town eight months later.

Little by little, we learn that a brutal hate crime has left a young man dead at a football oval and a small-town community devastated, and families are left fractured, grieving, and, in some cases, angry.

Men’s football is on hold after the events, but when Bess returns home, she puts together a women’s team. In doing so, will she reunite the town, or will the community be further driven apart?

Darkness Runs Deep is engrossing and transformational – and you don’t need to enjoy sports to enjoy this character-driven, tense thriller. This is a novel of women reclaiming their rights and of a small town trying to come together after a tragedy. Bess, in particular, is an exceptionally well-drawn character. This is an excellent Australian crime novel, and I can’t wait to read this talented author’s next book.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Pan Macmillan

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