Review: Cutters End by Margaret Hickey


Title: Cutters End

Author: Margaret Hickey

Published: 17th August 2021, Bantam Australia 

Status: Read September 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia



My Thoughts:


When public pressure results in a thirty-two year old case being reopened, Acting Inspector Mark Ariti is recalled from long service leave and tasked with reinvestigating the death of Michael Denby on a lonely stretch of the Stuart Highway. Discovered by his fire damaged car with burns and a broken leg, the original finding was one of accidental death, and there is no real expectation Ariti will learn anything new after all this time. Re-interviewing witnesses certainly seems to be a dead end, but Ariti along with Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur, stationed at Cutters End, stumble upon some information that paints the dead man in a new light and changes the direction of the investigation.

Though touted as a thriller, I feel Cutters End is better described as a police procedural. The prologue introduces some suspense with a harrowing scene, but there’s no real sense of urgency related to what may have really happened to Denby during the novel given he has been dead for several decades. There is an intriguing mystery though that unravels at a measured pace as Ariti and Kaur piece together disparate pieces of information and the reopened investigation prompts questions about a range of other suspected historical crimes.

I’d say a key theme examined by Hickey in Cutters End is the difference between the application of law and the administration of justice, particularly in regards to the poor response of police and courts to crimes against women, especially those involving sexual assault and domestic violence. This issue has relevance both in the present, as Ariti’s wife prosecutes an abusive husband, and the past, as Mark and Jagdeep learn about its secrets.

I’m not sure how I feel about Mark Ariti to be honest. Seemingly in the midst of a midlife crisis, with a failing marriage, an apathetic attitude towards his children, and shallow concerns about ageing, I felt he was quite a morose, self involved character. He is a dedicated investigator though, which I admired, and to be fair, he surprised me somewhat in the end.

Offering a well crafted mystery that takes place in an atmospheric rural Australian setting, Cutters End is a solid crime fiction debut from Margaret Hickey.


Available from Penguin Books Australia

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol (@carolsnotebook)
    Sep 09, 2021 @ 00:45:32

    Ariti doesn’t seem like a character I’d care about, the mystery sounds well done.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. jenclair
    Sep 09, 2021 @ 23:18:21

    I’m curious about this one. Mark Ariti might be a character that develops, but at present I’m more interested in the plot and even in his wife.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Jennifer
    Sep 10, 2021 @ 13:23:56

    Good review, Shelleyrae. I am looking forward to reading this.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. WendyW
    Sep 11, 2021 @ 11:21:07

    Nice review, Shelleyrae! This sounds exciting.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Laura Pond
    Sep 12, 2021 @ 22:07:37

    I feel overwhelmed by the difference between the application of law and administration of justice. The daily news reports are so sad that I don’t think I can read this book.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Trackback: Its Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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