Review: Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby


Title: Cedar Valley

Author: Holly Throsby

Published: January 7th 2020, Allen & Unwin

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read January 2020, courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

Cedar Valley, Holly Throsby’s second novel, is a contemporary mystery firmly rooted in a small town Australian setting.

On the first day of December 1993, a man in a brown suit seats himself on the pavement in front of Cedar Valley Curios & Old Wares. When store owner Cora Franks eventually finds time to confront him, she is shocked to discover he has died. Amongst the crowd that gathers to witness the spectacle of a dead man, stands Benny Miller. Having only arrived in Cedar Valley that morning, Benny is both fascinated and disturbed by the incident, but she is too distracted by her need to learn more about her recently deceased mother, Vivian Moon, to give the dead stranger much more than a passing thought.

While Benny is settling in to the town, developing a relationship with Odette, her mother’s one time best friend, in the hopes of understanding why Vivian abandoned her as an infant, the police begin to investigate how a dead man came to be sitting on a footpath in Cedar Valley. Wearing a vintage brown suit, and shiny black shoes, the man has no identification and the coroner can’t determine a cause of death.

Some readers will recognise the parallels between the enigma of the dead man in Cedar Valley, and that of ‘The Somerton Man’, the subject of one of Australia’s most enduring mystery’s. The local police are baffled by the strange similarities between the two cases and struggle to make sense of it.

Various residents of Cedar Valley play a role in the story, from the local chemist, to the towns ‘womaniser’, and Detective Sergeant Simmons ailing mother, Elsie, who many not remember what she was told yesterday, but can recall events from decades before. I enjoyed the setting, the people, the town and its environs are easy to visualise.

Though the pace is a little slow and meandering for my taste, Throsby moves the story forward and eventually reveals a surprising connection between Benny, the mystery man, and the town of Cedar Valley. The conclusion is a little vague, but fits the theme of unanswerable questions that runs through the novel.

A warm, engaging read, I liked Cedar Valley, it’s the sort of novel to fill a lazy afternoon picnicking in the country.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP: AUD $19.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Barrett
    Jan 09, 2020 @ 10:01:52

    I enjoyed the mystery aspect of this one! Nice review Shelleyrae!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Amy
    Jan 09, 2020 @ 13:32:11

    I read Goodwood a few days ago so I’m curious to read this one. I understand about it being slow, I found that with the first one as well.



  3. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Jan 09, 2020 @ 20:59:05

    I didn’t know what to make of this one when I saw it, but I didn’t expect a mystery like this. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  5. Cherry Hughes
    Mar 07, 2020 @ 08:58:59

    I enjoyed this and pace didn’t bother me though the ending did….a bit up in the air. Who was the blonde lady?



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