2 February 2022

Review: WILD PLACE, Christian White

Synopsis (publisher)

In the summer of 1989, a local teen goes missing from the idyllic Australian suburb of Camp Hill. As rumours of Satanic rituals swirl, schoolteacher Tom Witter becomes convinced he holds the key to the disappearance. When the police won’t listen, he takes matters into his own hands with the help of the missing girl’s father and a local neighbourhood watch group.

But as dark secrets are revealed and consequences to past actions are faced, Tom learns that the only way out of the darkness is to walk deeper into it. Wild Place peels back the layers of suburbia, exposing what’s hidden underneath – guilt, desperation, violence – and attempts to answer the question: why do good people do bad things?

My Take

In an Author's Note at the end the author tells us that his plot style is to "take one crime trope,  add a strange and interesting thing that intrigues me, blend and pour over ice..... Wild Place is a Rear Window-style mystery. The special ingredient: "Satanic Panic - a wave of hysteria and moral outrage that swept the world in the 1980s and 90s." "

A few weeks before Christmas 1989 teenager Tracie Reed goes missing. As the end of the year approaches she is still missing and the suburb of Camp Hill puts its community under a microscope. Neighbourhood Watch in particular has created a vigilante mindset, and one teenager in particular is viewed with great suspicion. And there are many who have things to hide.

Camp Hill is an Australian suburb on the Mornington Peninsular in Victoria. I had to remind myself a number of times of the Australian setting because I felt at times there was a North American vibe to it.

As the blurb says, the central theme is why good people do bad things. I was amazed at how this plot finalised, because I didn't have the "bad person" pegged at all, nor their motivation. 

Fascinating. In the long run, several good people do bad things. But which do you think is the worst? This would make a good book for a group discussion if you are looking for one.

My rating: 4.6

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