There's no such thing as a perfect victim.
In a hotel room on a sleepy Pacific island, Judy Novak waits. And worries. It isn’t the first time 29-year-old problem child Paulina has kept her mother waiting. But Judy can’t ignore the island’s jagged cliffs and towering pines — or the dread that Paulina has finally acted on her threats to take her own life.
When Paulina’s body is discovered, Judy’s worst fears seem confirmed. Only, Paulina didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.
So begins a thorny investigation, wherein every man on the island is a suspect yet none are as maligned as Paulina: the captivating newcomer known for her hard drinking, disastrous relationships, and habit of walking alone.
But, above all, Paulina is her mother’s daughter. And death won’t stop Judy Novak from fighting for Paulina’s life.
‘Laura Elizabeth Woollett has done it again. The Newcomer pulls you in from its eerie opening and drags you along with intriguing characters and beautifully wrought prose. As the mystery deepens, you begin to realise things are never clear-cut, and everybody is guilty of something. A cautionary tale inspired by true events by one of my favourite authors. Read this book now.’
JP Pomare, author of Call Me Evie
‘The Newcomer is a dark and disturbing novel, speaking to some of the most troubling aspects of contemporary Australian society. As in Beautiful Revolutionary, Woollett's prose is delicate and brutal in equal measure, offering an intimate portrait of a small and tight-knit community. With a fast-paced narrative and a complex central character, this is a searing exploration of sexual violence and victimhood, taking forward important conversations within our national psyche.’
Catherine Noske, author of The Salt Madonna
‘Laura Elizabeth Woollett is my kind of writer — fearless, incisive, and darkly poetic. The Newcomer is by turns tragic, funny, sinister, and completely riveting.’
David Whish-Wilson, author of Shore Leave
‘Intensely chilling and sucker-punch powerful, The Newcomer is a murder mystery but not as you know it. With a seamless blend of electric prose, simmering tension, and a deeply evocative setting, Woollett sharpens her focus on the humanity of the victim rather than the identity of the killer. The small-town intrigue sets your heart pounding — but it's the characters, so nuanced and vivid you can almost reach out and touch them, who make it bleed. They pull you into their world from the first page and stay with you long after you've turned the last, forcing you to consider the stories of those who often go unnamed or unnoticed in the wake of violence and tragedy. The result is a crime novel that, like its protagonist, throws out the rule book and blazes its own dark and unforgettable trail.’
Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place
‘Intriguing and touching, The Newcomer is a new kind of crime novel.’
Mirandi Riwoe, author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain
'With its refreshingly real voice, Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s The Newcomer takes Australian crime fiction to a whole new level. Haunting. Raw. Compulsive. I can’t stop thinking about it.’
Anna Snoekstra, author of Only Daughter
‘Woollett is a dexterous storyteller — she has a keen sense of place and dialogue, evoking a Kath & Kim-esque fish-out-of-water story as she illustrates the relationships between Fairfolk Island’s many locals and Paulina, a "mainie" who is as strange to them as they are to her.’
Cher Tan, Books+Publishing
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 16 members
I really loved this book. The characters are incredibly well developed, the flow and pacing is good and the story is well written,, both beautiful and heartbreaking, I couldn’t stop reading.
First of all...Cover Love ❤ Second of all...the "I want to find my daughters killer" trope has been done to death, BUT...Laura Elizabeth Woollett has done a wonderful job of making it interesting and refreshing. I loved this book right from the start and read it in a day. The book is so well written, well crafted, and just plain good. The writing lures you in...the whole family drama thing, dysfunction, loss, grief, etc. What I really want to say is...caution. This is a very disturbing book. Like many readers I like to try to figure out what happened...the whodunit...but this time around I just savoured the story and the words. What you find out about Paulina and the other characters in the book is triggering. This is not for the weak of heart as it deals with rape, sexual abuse, addiction and highly damaged, manipulative people. What I loved most about this book was how the author has created a cast of deplorable characters, all with their own personalities, flaws and back stories. And even though our main character is one of those deplorables you can't help but feel for her and cheer her on while she tries to fight her demons. Unpredictable, imaginative and intriguing...This sad, well written mystery slowly unravelled and kept me captivated from beginning to end. A real page turner and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
The Newcomer redefines the modern mystery genre. It strips away all the things you take for granted in a mystery and focusses in on the victim. And it works! The Newcomer is Paulina, newly arrived on Fairfolk Island for a 'fresh start'. Her life is a mess...alcohol dependency, eating disorder, dangerous relationships and relationship problems with her mother. When Pauline is found dead (not a spoiler) her mother tries to discover the secret behind her death. This is mystery without a police investigation or police. We do not know the details of the investigation, the suspect interviews, or the information that leads to the capture of the killer. We also never know the full details of Paulina's death. We know the 'how' in thin detail. We know almost nothing of the killer. What we do discover is that 'victim' is not easily defined. We know so much of Paulina's life leading up to her death, and her mother's life after her daughter's death, as she tries to put the pieces of her daughter's life, and her own, back together. It is so different to any other mystery that t can sometimes feel directionless. But trust me! There is mystery and tension galore for even the most hard-core of mystery buffs, driven by a deep character study of a woman exploring what her life should be, before it is prematurely taken from her.
An intimate, sensitive story of the final days of a self-destructive young woman, and the mother who tried to save her. While the story centers on Judy's struggle to make sense of her daughter's murder and to find out who was responsible, the focus is more on discovering who both mother and daughter really are. Beautifully written with brilliant characterisations, this novel will appeal to those who love reading about mysteries that go beyond the simple question of whodunit.
In a hotel room on a sleepy Pacific island, Judy Novak waits. And worries. It isn’t the first time 29-year-old problem child Paulina has kept her mother waiting. But Judy can’t ignore the island’s jagged cliffs and towering pines — or the dread that Paulina has finally acted on her threats to take her own life. When Paulina’s body is discovered, Judy’s worst fears seem confirmed. Only, Paulina didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. The Newcomer is being called a crime novel but it's really so much more than that. It's a deeply affecting story about a murder victim and those she leaves behind. It's about casual misogyny and domestic violence in an insular island community, mothers and daughters and mental illness. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
What a literary crime thriller! This is a book that will make you gasp for some air because it was dark, twisty and thrilling. The Newcomer is a thriller which is loosely based on a true crime (although I didn’t know this at the start). Set in the fictional island Fairfolk, this is the story of a mother, who is finding answers to the murder of her daughter. Paulina isn’t perfect. She is far from perfection. She moves to Fairfolk from Sydney, an island with its close-knit community. On the day she turns 29, during the Easter break, her mother, Judy comes to visit. With time and with no any messages from her daughter, she tries to track her down and comes to the reality of her death. In a close community with everyone’s life interwoven with everybody else’s, every person we meet is a suspect. The book flows in alternating chapters, Judy’s quest to finding answers and Paulina’s before her death. Although the book didn’t come up with some trigger warnings, this book is raw, dark and at times very disturbing. Judy’s emotional wreckage is too raw and deeply upsetting. Paulina is shown from the start as a character who is far from perfection. Her attitude and her relationship with her mother are few points in which she fails to score as a likeable human. But with the pages turning, we get to see the true nature of Paulina and what led to her being the least-likeable person. We should give a round of applause to the author for her portrayal of Paulina. Even if she is a highly flawed character, she drew the reader towards the victim which needs to be appreciated. There are some dark themes such as rape, abuse, self-hate and sexual violence. Also her portrayal of the motherly character was raw, yet moving and empathetic.