Dirt Town: A Crime Fiction Book set in Australia

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Childhood is a strange place. As we integrate into our minds the information we need to grow our understanding of the world around us, and hopefully come across nothing that stunts our evolution into emotionally maturity, we forget what it was like to operate in the world with so little knowledge, understanding and control. When we had to spend a lot of time trying to make sense of what can often appear confusing, scary, arbitrary or bizarre.

While some praise Scrivenor’s debuet for it’s sense of place, the all important jewel in the crime fiction crown, I believe that the real craft in Scrivenor’s arsenal is her ability to write the inner monologue of the children.

When twelve year old Esther Bianchi goes missing much of our understanding of Esther, her family and the residents of Durtown come from Reggie, and Lewis her best friends. It is their innocent interpretation of the world around them, tettering on the edge of a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and their attempts to solve their friends disappearance, which is then filtered through the lens of DS Sarah Michael’s, which is the beating emotional heart of this novel, and lifts it from being just another missing girl story, into a coming of age tale.

There are occasional missteps in the novel, the collective “we,” of the towns children could have been structured more evenly throughout the novel, and Shelly’s confession of past wrongs done to her, was perhaps less artfully managed than Scrivenor’s talent would have you believe is possible. However despite these flaws what we have in Scrivenor is a writer who is unafraid to be ambitous with what crime fiction can do, and crime fiction can only benefit.

With the last chapters we look at how this relatively short, but highly intense, period came to shape the charactors future lives, and became woven into their emotional foundations. Genuinely, I wept. Who out of us would not weep when faced with the great tragedy of all human lives, that even when the blissful moments of childhood are infrequent, it is a state we all yearn for, but will never be able to return to, exiled from it as we are by the knowing that we sought, and the knowing which was thrust upon us.

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