An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire


It’s a small town outside of Sydney. Bella went missing and, after a few painful days, was found dead, abandoned on the side of a highway. Her older sister, Chris, finds herself in the middle of it all; an investigation, a heap of reporters, and a community within which may hide her sister’s killer.

The book follows a few weeks where, while Chris tries to deal with her grief, aided by her ex-husband and those around her, journalist May, working for an online newspaper, is trying to find her headline and escape her own emotionally broken life.

With so many books on the Stellar Prize long list being non-fiction, I started this thinking it was a true story and only a few chapters in, realised it was fiction. But it is based on the truth of so many small towns where violence occurs, and on the various ways people try to move on. The characters are not necessarily likable, yet Maguire writes them in such an empathetic way that I found myself wanting them to succeed, which I found almost appalling in the case of May; but it is the fact that she is almost self-aware… not quite, but enough that I, against my better judgement, find that I want to be on her side. In a way.

An Isolated Incident was long listed for the 2017 Stellar Prize.

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