Review: Wild Place by Christian White

 

Title: Wild Place

Author: Christian White

Published: 26th October 2021, Affirm Press

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Affirm Press

++++++++

My Thoughts:

I’ve been eager for the chance to read Christian White, whose debut novel, The Nowhere Child, and his sophomore offering, The Wife and the Widow, hit the bestsellers lists.

Wild Place is set in the heart of Australian suburbia during the summer of 1989. When seventeen year old Tracie Reed is reported missing, the police dismiss her as a runaway, despite her mother’s insistent denials. The teen’s disappearance bothers Tom Witter, Tracie’s high school English teacher and a neighbour of a sorts. Worried about the vulnerability of his own two boys, he involves himself in a search for the missing girl, and finds a suspect in the teenage son of a neighbour, Sean Fryman, whose sullen manner, black clothing, and love of heavy metal music marks him as a possible threat.

The titular wild place is a strip of dense bushland that is commonly found in the midst of Australian suburbs. Generally considered innocuous, hosting children’s homemade forts and games of pretend adventure, perhaps the odd amorous couple or rebellious group of teens, these areas provide a token connection to nature, and respite from suburban crowding. To the residents of Camp Hill in the wake of Tracie’s disappearance however the bush becomes sinister, a wild place that may hide strangers intent on doing harm.

The danger doesn’t lurk in the woods at all of course. White slowly strips away the veneer of suburban respectability as he exposes that the threats who stalk the community openly walk its streets. Secrets, lies and deceptions unravel to reveal unexpected events and hidden connections in surprising ways. While Sean is the obvious target of suspicion for those convinced Tracie has fallen victim to a predator, White continually nudges the frame, raising alternative possibilities. Skilful plotting with clever misdirects ensures it’s difficult to guess at the denouement, but it was the epilogue that left me gasping.

Firmly grounded in period and setting, Wild Place evokes some nostalgia for my suburban childhood. Coincidently, this is the second newly published book I’ve read in as many weeks that draws on the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the Eighties and early Nineties as an element of the crime.

With its intriguing characters and brilliant plot, Wild Place is suspenseful and gripping crime fiction, destined to be another bestseller.

+++++++++

Available from Affirm Press

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Nov 01, 2021 @ 02:09:29

    I am sure I would be on edge throughout and enjoy this one. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  3. Helen Murdoch
    Nov 01, 2021 @ 13:52:07

    Satanic Panic–great phrase and I knew exactly what you meant. This sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Wild Place by Christian White, Review: Shocking

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