Megan Goldin is a former foreign correspondent, reporting on war and terrorism. She’s now back in her hometown of Melbourne penning fiction and The Girl in Kellers Way, her debut novel is set in small-town America and firmly fits into the very popular genre of domestic noir. So it’s a psychological thriller – my fave! 🙂
The Girl in Kellers Way
by Megan Goldin
Published by Michael Joseph
on May 29th 2017
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
When a body is found buried near the desolate forest road of Kellers Way, Detective Melanie Carter must identify the victim if she is to have any chance of finding the killer. That's no easy task with fragmentary evidence from a crime committed years earlier and a conspiracy of silence from anyone who might have information.
The one person who may be able to help is Julie West. In a troubled marriage, Julie often jogs along Kellers Way to clear her mind and escape the confines of her suffocating suburban life.
Until one day, something happens there that shakes Julie to the core, making her question everything she ever believed about her life, her marriage and even her sanity . . .
This is one of those books that points readers in a certain direction and it seems so obvious you know it’s a classic misdirection. However… Goldin adds in enough red herrings that we’re forced to ponder if there’s a double bluff being played. Or perhaps it’s just me overthinking things again!
Julie West (who describes herself as former trailer park trash) is married to the wealthy enigmatic psychology professor and academic Matt and raising their daughter Alice. But we learn early that Julie is struggling. She’s recently suffered some tragedies and her solicitous husband is helping nurse her back to someone (or something) a little more balanced. The drugs he’s giving her are making her mind fuzzy and she’s losing time however, so Julie’s secretly avoiding them as much as possible.
We also soon learn that Julie is Matt’s second wife and his former wife Laura, who was killed years earlier, was also an academic and (according to Julie) greatly revered by his friends and colleagues as well as Matt’s judgemental mother.
We spend a lot of the novel in Julie’s head and we’re not entirely sure we can trust her. She’s unreliable and not even sure what she does / doesn’t remember about her own life. She adores Alice though and when it becomes obvious Matt’s having an affair, she knows (as do we) she’ll do whatever it takes to stop him leaving her and taking Alice.
And then there’s Mel, a homicide detective from New York who left the city with her two boys after her husband was killed on the job. Alternate chapters are told from Mel’s point of view as she tracks down the identity of a body found in Kellers Way, and then the person responsible for their death. Mel’s another complex character… not so much psychologically, but she’s struggling with her oldest son acting out and worrying about the affect their father’s loss has on her sons.
Mel however, is the person we can trust in this novel, as Julie hovers between some sort of fugue state and one of jealous mania. And Matt, well… Julie describes him for us at one point…
He uses his frameless glasses like an actor on a stage. He takes them off, waves them to emphasise a point, folds them and tucks them in his front shirt pocket, then puts them on again to read something in his notes. Each time, the faint click of the glasses frames opening and shutting fills the lecture hall with anticipation.
He doesn’t even need glasses. They’re like everything else in his life: an illusion. The loving father, devoted husband, empathetic therapist.
Today’s he’s playing professor. He’s charismatic, amusing, incredibly engaging. He revels in this role. p 82
And then of course, just as our suspect becomes obvious…. Goldin tosses in some curve balls. There’s someone warning Julie she’s in danger, intriguing new information about Matt’s research and some questions about Alice’s parentage.
I very much enjoyed this debut thriller by Goldin who offers us interesting and complex characters – if not always likeable, and a twisty and uncertain plot – cleverly keeping us in the dark for much of the novel. And then there’s the ending…. which I can’t talk about it without giving stuff away, but I’m actually interviewing Goldin so looking forward to asking her about it!
The only minor nuance I noticed was one relating to timing as – particularly in the beginning – we jumped about a little. We’re in Julie’s mind as she’s running, then back to something from the night before, then in her husband’s lecture theatre. I noticed the same lack of continuity or change of tense when Mel was talking about her son and leaps forward to something that happens the following week, though still in present tense. It wasn’t problematic, but I had little to fault in this addictive book that it was something I noticed (which I wouldn’t have if distracted by other complaints!!!).
The Girl in Kellers Way by Megan Goldin was published in Australia by Penguin Random House and available from 29 May 2017.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
PS. I’m also interviewing Megan about her debut novel and will be publishing that in coming days.