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Wild Place by Christian White


ISBN
9781922626103
Published
Binding
Paperback
Pages
384

In the summer of 1989, a local teen goes missing from the idyllic suburb of Camp Hill in Australia. 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?

From the international bestseller Christian White, Wild Place is a white-knuckle descent into a street near you.
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Description
Information
Reviews
In the summer of 1989, a local teen goes missing from the idyllic suburb of Camp Hill in Australia. 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?

From the international bestseller Christian White, Wild Place is a white-knuckle descent into a street near you.
ISBN:
9781922626103
Publication Date:
26 / 10 / 2021
Pages:
384
An engrossing and twisty mystery-thriller
Wild Place is an engrossing and twisty mystery-thriller, set in the deceptively idyllic world of 1980s Australian middle-class suburbia. It's the run-up to Christmas 1989 and 17-year-old Tracie Reed has gone missing from her home in the (fictional) suburb of Camp Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula in greater Melbourne. Initially, local police are dismissive, treating Tracie's case as that of a teenage runaway. She'd taken a backpack of clothes, after all, and had been affected by the recent breakdown of her parents' marriage. Tracie's mum, Nancy is adamant that Tracie wouldn't just disappear and not make contact, and tells the police that Tracie had felt that she was being watched in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. Christmas comes and goes, and there's still no sign of Tracie. The lead detective goes on holidays, and the case is temporarily transferred to Detective Sharon Guffey, who grew up in the area. Meanwhile, local resident Tom Witter, who had been Tracie's high school English teacher, attends his local neighbourhood watch meeting. Tom's family home is located on Keel Street, backing onto the same area of urban bushland reserve, known as "Wild Place", as Tracie's home in nearby Bright Street. For readers who may be unfamiliar, the proximity of areas of bushland is relatively common in suburban areas surrounding Australia's largest cities. Tom is deputed to distribute "Missing Person" posters around the neighbourhood, and becomes preoccupied with Tracie's disappearance. His involvement leads him into contact with the police, and it transpires that he and Detective Sharon Guffey were close friends during their own school days at the high school where Tom now teaches. Both Sharon and Tom's wife, Connie, caution him against intruding any further into the investigation of Tracie's disappearance, but Tom is a little like a dog with the proverbial bone, and starts hypothesising about potential suspects. After the spectre of satanic ritual is raised as a possibility (I remember well the hysteria around this subject that flared now again during the 1980s and 1990s in Australia), his suspicions fall on local "goth" teenager, Sean Fryman. What follows is rather horrifying sequence of violence and xenophobia, during which the layers of this suburban paradise are gradually peeled back, revealing the fear, guilt, blame and jealousies that skulk beneath. Having enjoyed Christian White's previous two releases, The Nowhere Child and The Wife and the Widow, I launched into Wild Place anticipating another multi-layered mystery plot with plenty of twists and surprises. And I wasn't disappointed - this was an engrossing read with a strong sense of setting in time and place. While a couple of aspects of the "big reveal" had occurred to me as possibilities while reading, the conclusion came as a shocking, but fitting, surprise. Christian White has created a cast of complex characters, ranging from the somewhat comic caricatures of the members of the Keel Street Neighbourhood Watch committee to Sean's teenage angst and isolation, to the family relationships within the Witter family unit, to Tom's own intricate knot of motivations and insecurities. While the reader doesn't necessarily support the decisions the characters make (sometimes feeling like yelling at the page; "NO! Don't do that!"), we can't help but understand their motives of self-protection, retribution or bystander curiosity. I'd recommend Wild Place to any reader who enjoys high quality contemporary Australian crime fiction (albeit with a recent historical setting) featuring complex protagonists, multi-layered plot and plenty of twists.
, 26/10/2021

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