11 February 2024

Review: VANISHING POINT, Pat Flower

  • this novel first published 1975
  • this edition published by Wakefield Crime Classics 1991
  • ISBN 1-86254-292-9
  • 209 pages

Synopsis (publisher

Cruel, egotistical Noel, a thistledown, a cheap balloon whisking willy-nilly away from the piercing, deflating needle of her fine judgement.

Geraldine needs to keep her cool through the highs and the lows, but it's maddening when Noel keeps missing the point.

The trek up north was gruelling, yet every plant and bird she saw, every sweaty, purposeless mile she crossed, convinced her that they were made for each other.

Back home in Sydney, when there's still a gap between them, he has to be made to see.

The Wakefield Crime Classics series revives forgotten or neglected gems of crime and mystery fiction by Australian authors. Many of the writers have established international reputations but are little known in Australia.

additional blurb (Sapere Books) - more revealing (almost a plot spoiler)

When Geraldine Blaine embarks on a gruelling expedition through the remote Cape York Peninsula with her husband, she hopes it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Noel is becoming ever more emotionally distant … and, she suspects, unfaithful. Perhaps a holiday is just what they need?

But Noel never wanted Geraldine on the trip in the first place, and amidst the simmering menace of the wilderness their threadbare marriage swiftly begins to unravel.

When Noel delivers the bombshell that he’s returning home early, in defiance Geraldine stays behind. But when she finally returns home to Sydney, her husband is more indifferent than ever — and clearly infatuated with beautiful young Nerida Jessop.

It’s the final straw for Geraldine – and as her obsessive love turns to murderous rage, she’s driven to terrible extremes…

In flight from the consequences of her actions, she finds herself journeying through the unforgiving Peninsula once more. But as her new travelling companions turn against her, Geraldine’s about to learn that some secrets aren’t so easy to bury…

Why is her new travelling companion, Jim Oates, so hostile? And why are he and the mysterious Ralph Turner so interested in Geraldine’s past?

And as the net begins to close in on her, what desperate measures will she resort to?

My Take

Set in 1974, a thriller set around a trip from Sydney to Cape York. I found this a demanding read. It is written from the point of view of Geraldine Blaine who sees herself very differently to the ways other people see her. Her husband Noel really marries Geraldine for her money, which she never quite understands. By the time they undertake the trip North, Geraldine's hold on reality has become very stretched.

Eventually Noel drives Geraldine to an extreme act, but she thinks she has got away with it. 

The final pages of the Wakefield Crime Classic version of this novel contains a thought provoking review by editors Michael J. Tolley and Peter Moss.

My rating: 4.6

About the author

Pat was born in Ramsgate, Kent, England and moved to Australia with her family in 1928. She originally worked as a secretary, writing radio plays and sketches in her spare time. She eventually moved on to writing crime novels and TV scripts.

She wrote so many episodes of the ABC TV series Australian Playhouse one critic called it “The Pat Flower Show”.

She was married to Cedric Flower, an actor, costume designer, designer, playwright, director, playwright, producer and set designer.

Pat passed away in 1977.

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