4 January 2021

Review: STICKS AND STONES, Katherine Firkin

  • This edition published by Bantam 2020
  • ISBN 978-1-76089-302-6
  • 392 pages
  • source: my local library
  • author website

Synopsis (author website)

It’s winter in Melbourne and Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk.

So when Natale Gibson goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for – the woman’s husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched.

But things aren’t all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets – none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding.

Just as the net seems to be tightening, the investigation is turned on its head. The body of a woman is found . . . then another.

What had seemed like a standard missing person’s case has turned into a frightening hunt for a serial killer, and time is running out.

But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to delve back through decades of neglect – back to a squalid inner-city flat, where a young boy is left huddling over his mother’s body . . .

My Take

We meet the murderer, who turns out to be a serial killer, right at the start, in the Prologue, but we don't know who he is. 

Two cases present themselves for the attention of the MPU almost simultaneously. Rosemary Norton is reported missing by her brother because she fails to turn up for her disabled brother's birthday party. The second case, that of Natale Gibson, mother of two, who fails to collect her two young children from day care, looks more serious.

The MPU is under pressure to perform. It seems likely that the future state budget will bring with it a cut to their funding, and the absorption of the MPU into other police departments.

In the background Emmett Corban's wife Cindy is excited to be taking up a new job, but, while Emmett is glad for her, he realises it will bring changes to the dynamics of their home life.

The plot is many stranded, with a load of red herrings to distract the reader. The way the strands are connected up is very clever. There are a range of well-developed characters too. Good reading.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Katherine Firkin is a Melbourne journalist, currently with CBS New York.
She has over a decade of experience and has worked across every medium – print, online, television and radio.
Katherine has been writing fiction from a young age, and she studied literature and journalism at university. Her debut novel is inspired by the many criminal trials she has covered.


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