Cover Image: Second Sight

Second Sight

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Member Reviews

Second Sight is the second novel for Aoife Clifford, and I initially found it hard to get into because of all the characters, storylines and timelines but once I was in I was hooked.
Eliza has escaped Kinsale, a town where the ‘population … expands and folds depending on the weather and locals know never to drive near the centre of town on summer weekends’. She now lives in the city but has returned because she is working on a matter connected to the fire that decimated the town recently. She has just made partner in the legal firm she works in.
Her father who was the local policeman, still lives in the town, but following a car accident has been in a nursing home. Eliza doesn’t want to include a visit to her father in her plans while in her home town. Her mother died when she was four, and her sister, Tess, married her father’s successor at the station. The sibling rivalry between the two continues from their childhood into adulthood, the resentment simmering through the pages, their ‘conversations … always littered with landmines’.
The town is reeling from the impact of the fire on the lives of local townspeople and on property. Eliza is acting for the power company who are accused of being responsible. While knowing the eight people who died, being a small town, she finds ‘the only way to cope is to separate out bits of your life and keep them in solitary confinement’.
The book goes back in time particularly to the New Year’s Eve when the girls were teenagers. ‘Sneaking off from the community celebrations for their own private New Year’s Eve party at Cromwell’s Beach had been Eliza’s idea’. It is a decision she will come to regret.
Eliza is a great central character – feisty, showing how tough it is to work as in the lawyer for a woman still, but also needing validation, full of insecurities and flaws. Other characters with all their history, connections and secrets flesh out the story well. The book is full of guilt, regret, assumptions made, bad choices, and strained relationships that are stretched out over the book, coming to a satisfying resolution at the end.
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This was a well written, character and plot driven mystery novel, set in a small Australian coastal town. The two storylines, one told partially in flashbacks, drive the story and are well paced and intertwined, and only resolved in the last few pages - keeps you turning pages until the very end.

I really enjoyed this book.
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Eliza Carmody is returning to her home town of Kinsale as a lawyer defending the company Calhorts. The very company deemed responsible for the bushfire that destroyed lives and nearly destroyed the town two years prior.

On the drive in, she sees a good Samaritan being king hit due to a traffic incident and she’s drawn into these circumstances as a witness. But not all is what it seems.... suddenly it’s not all about the bushfire claim, especially when bones are found around the ‘Castle’. It seems to move on in her life she has to work out what happened 20 years ago on New Year’s Eve, when her best friend Grace disappeared.

I loved this book, another favourite one that makes me feel many emotions. I could feel Eliza’s jealousy, confusion and regret, especially with her father and sister. I didn’t agree with all of Eliza’s actions but I did admire her.

There were a number of characters to get my head around and the story has flash backs to events that happened on that New Year’s Eve 20 years ago but it flowed effortlessly. Suspense, tension, small town secrets and illegal activities make a great book.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for an ARC to read.
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Firstly I want to give [author:Aoife Clifford|14677688] full marks for her beautiful writing. Her description of a small Aussie seaside town is spot on and the whole book projects the atmosphere of living there. Someone also did great work on that gorgeous cover which is totally in keeping with the contents of the book.

The story is about Eliza who is a lawyer and a partner in a city firm and is one of those interfering busy bodies who will not leave things alone. Returning to the small town of her youth is probably a mistake and she suffers badly as she tries to discover the truth of what happened one night years ago. Regular use is made of flashbacks and although I am not always a fan of this technique this author carries it off well. Be warned though there are lots of characters involved and the reader needs to stay alert to all the different names!

[book:Second Sight|39729318] is the first book I have read by this Australian author. It was an easy and a speedy read with an interesting story that moves at a good pace. I will be looking out for more of her work.
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Book blurb...
A fugitive in the present. A runaway in the past.
Eliza Carmody returns home to the country to work on the biggest law case of her career. The only problem is this time she’s on the ‘wrong side’ – defending a large corporation against a bushfire class action by her hometown of Kinsale.
On her first day back Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate that crime and hunt for Luke they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district. Eliza is convinced that they belong to someone from her past.
As Eliza becomes more and more entangled in the investigation, she is pulled back into her memories of youthful friendships and begins to question everyone she knows … and everything she once thought was true.

My thoughts…
This is my second Aoife Clifford novel, the first being, All These Perfect Strangers, published two years ago.
Clifford structured Second Sight in a similar way to her first novel with the story being narrated from the past and then current day. I did enjoy this story. It kept me reading with impatience to finish so I could find out who was behind the fires and the bones that were discovered.
The main character was likeable and I was invested in her quest for the truth and on the edge of my seat when it looked like getting close to home for her.
There were moments when I felt confused due to the number of characters/names in both story threads (past and present). This did not diminish my enjoyment of the story at all, but you will need to concentrate and it’s perhaps not a story you can easily pick up and keep up.
I look forward to more from this author.
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“We have circled back again to that night so right now we are both adults and sixteen at the same time.”

Clifford has written two timelines, but the story is easy to follow (whew). Twenty years ago, Eliza Carmody and her friends were teenagers, skinny-dipping at a beach party when one runs away, supposedly to the city. 

And then there’s today, where the memories of youth are still there when talking to old friends. The flashback chapters are clearly identified and well-placed. I like the format, because when you’re a kid, you assume you know what people’s motives are. Twenty years and a love affair or two later, Eliza’s reconsidering how she interpreted what she saw.

She grew up in the small Aussie country town of Kinsale, Victoria, where her mother died when she was four. Her policeman father sent her off to boarding school in Melbourne at sixteen. Banished, she felt. He turned her bedroom into his study but let her older sister live at home until she married Gavin, now the local Senior Sergeant. 

Another family friend “was a drive-by cop, all lights, sirens, guns and bad guys. Paperwork and community relations didn’t figure at all.”

Twenty years later, Eliza’s returning as a lawyer representing the power company being sued by the town in a class action for poor maintenance of a power line that snapped, igniting dry grass and causing a devastating bush fire.

[Side note: there are currently similar class actions now in Australia against power companies accused of failing to take appropriate precautions to prevent fires.]

Eliza says everyone deserves legal representation, and this case just happened to land on her desk. Actually, if she wants to remain a partner in her firm, she needs to grab whatever work she can get. But she has no idea what she’s in for!

Mick Carmody was a popular policeman in Kinsale, but he’s now in a nursing home, fading fast and seemingly unable to speak. She doesn’t really want to visit, but she does.

“Perhaps blood ties are like invisible ink. When the situation heats up, suddenly they appear.”

Kinsale is a small town and everybody still recognises Eliza because of her distinctive eyes which appear to be different colours, She used to pretend they gave her special powers, and someone suggests “like second sight?” She wishes!

Eliza’s headed to a meeting with a consultant at The Castle, the historic mansion where the fire started, when she gets caught in tourist traffic.

“The population of Kinsale expands and folds depending on the weather and locals know never to drive near the centre of town on summer weekends.”

While stuck, she sees a parking bingle and an argument involving one of her old classmates, Luke. A man with silly green hat and a broad Irish accent is walking down the street, and he steps in, calming the situation down.

A little later, she witness Luke and the Hat Man fighting, and a punch by Luke lands the Hat Man on the ground, motionless. 

So we have several stories. There’s her history, twenty years ago, which includes Luke and Grace, her friend who fled suddenly from the beach party, never to be heard from since. 

Of course we have the fire and the lawsuit which is being led by the owner of The Castle, Janey Bayless, who is also the local publican and running for mayor. She knew all the kids and is still a force to be reckoned with.

“Her curves are now more globe than hourglass but otherwise she’s the same.”

And we now add the Hat Man, Paul, and his Irish charmer brother, Donal, because Eliza hops into a – ahem – relationship with him. There is speculation about the Hat Man and Luke and drugs. A lot to think about, what with Paul in bad shape in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the town has taken Paul to heart in the way modern folk do.

“People who don’t know him are #prayingforPaul because apparently God regularly checks his Twitter feed.”

Oh, almost forgot. There’s the whole nursing home thread, with Mick reacting to a bit and where dear old Mary sits outside every day, saying she’s waiting to be collected by a grandson, but really just can’t bear to sit inside. Love her commentary on visitors and staff!

“‘He’s got a face as red as a slapped bum,’ says Mary. ‘Someone’s for it.’”

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, just as I enjoyed her debut All These Perfect Strangers which I also reviewed.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted.
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I very much enjoyed Australian author Aoife Clifford's debut novel All These Perfect Strangers, released in 2016.

Second Sight is a little different to the first book (in neither a good nor bad way). It feels very Australian and I adored the opening pages - Clifford's vividly visceral descriptions and the easy way in which she gives us a strong sense of the small coastal town of Kinsale.

"The sun pours through the glass and warms my bones to jelly. I wind down the window to take in the salted scent of my childhood: sea mixed with the crusty tang from the deep-fryers in the takeaway shops. It's all sunscreen, tan lines, peeling skin and bad holiday traffic." p 2

There's a sense of foreboding and menace in this novel which reminded me of books like Jane Harper's The Dry, Eliza Henry Jones' Ache and  and Sophie Laguna's The Choke.

I think part of it is the nostalgic realness of the setting which Clifford develops and delivers so well that I could sense it. (And I'm usually crap at that sort of thing.)

In addition to the actual environs or physical environment Clifford also does a great job with the characters and the baggage of the past. Again, she easily delves into that small-town feel and the parochial-ness (that can be both defiantly judgemental and accepting at the same time) that sometimes goes with it.

Eliza is a great character and we're taken on her 'journey' for the want of a better word. Not just from her teenage years to two decades on, but rather her own adulthood evolution.

Although the chapters around New Year's Eve in 1996 are shared through the eyes of several characters, we're directed in the present via Eliza and there as she struggles with the life she's built for herself. She talks about her ambition and single-minded focus to become a partner at her law firm and the fulfilment she thought it would bring.

She realises though that she's still waiting to feel the security or comfort she expected so events unfolding here are more confronting than she could have predicted.

"I thought it was the fire corrupting all it touched, but my problems didn't start with this case. I go all the way back to that New Year's Eve on the beach. At the start of that night I had two best friends. By the end of it I didn't. It's as simple as that and yet I did nothing about it, a fact I have been running from my all life. It's as if, in that water my heart froze and by the time I got to shore it had splintered on its own fault lines. I have tried to pretend it was nothing, when it was everything.

And with that realisation there is a hush." p 207

I liked that element of reflection - brought about by the events of the book's opening chapter, (in which Eliza's inadvertently involved through some twist of fate); that we can spend our lives yearning for something only to find it isn't what we were after. 

Clifford also delves deeper via the relationships reflected in the past and present (particularly the tension between Eliza and her sister and father) and how they have influenced her life.

I also appreciated that Clifford draws on contemporary culture - videos going viral, hashtags we latch onto - all a reminder of our propensity to want to find the next 'thing' and leap onto something - a person's goodness or badness (all or nothing) - in an attempt to make sense of this world, find meaning or just make a statement.

Easily a read-in-one-sitting book, Second Sight by Aoife Clifford published by Simon & Schuster is now available.
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Another great Aussie writer to keep an eye out for... Second Sight is a fantastic story that keeps you guessing til the end...the very end. I love reading about this small country town and the characters that made life very interesting.

Eliza has moved away from Kinsdale and is now a hot shot lawyer in the city.  She returns home to work on a big case, but this time she is working on the dark side - defending a big corporation in a class action over a bushfire.  On her way to a meeting with her witnesses a traffic accident that turns lethal - and to make matters worse she went to school with the on the run suspect.  Whilst she is still in town, some bones are found near an old hangout of Eliza's and she believes that she knows who the bones belong to.

As the cases are investigated her past starts to come back to haunt her, and we learn a lot about the townsfolk of Kinsdale.  You will never guess the ending.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book to read and enjoy in exchange for my honest opnions
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What seems like a minor car accident turns into something so much more in Aoife Clifford's latest novel 'Second Sight'. Eliza Carmody has returned to her childhood town of Kinsale. Long ago she left the coastal town and her family behind along with alot of negative emotions. She went on to become a successful lawyer. But now she is back to defend a company involved in a bushfire class action brought on by  many of the townsfolk. After witnessing the car accident and the following act of violence, Eliza is unwittingly drawn into the investigation. Other isolated incidents occur around the town but as Eliza does some investigating the past is trudged up and slowly she starts to connect the dots. There is alot going on in this novel and the many subplots cleverly come together to provide an engrossing and climatic ending. There are also many characters in this novel, which at times make it tricky to keep track of but it is worth sticking with to reach the finale.
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Small country towns are places where everyone knows everyone else’s business. They are places where, if someone makes a name for themselves, there is an element of the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. Kinsale is just such a country town which has recently suffered a tragic bushfire, the residents lodging a class action case against the large coorporation responsible. 
Eliza Carmody returns to Kinsale as a successful lawyer and the townsfolk gradually realize that she ia acting for the enemy. Add to this some juicy family secrets and some old flames and you get a thoroughly enjoyable page turner.
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