This is the second in the series by Sarah Thornton featuring former lawyer Clementine Jones. We learned in the first outing Lapse, that Jones had been convicted of drink driving and a woman died as a result – although I did think there was perhaps more to that story. She spent a lot of time in the first novel keeping that secret, but it’s not the case here and her history seems to be more accessible.
Lapse was set in Katinga in rural Australia, but this opens with (the elegant) mention of tidal flats and the ocean. Here Jones is housesitting and Thornton certainly offers eloquent imagery of Australia’s coastline. The setting was of interest to me as it’s actually in my back yard… near the Great Sandy Straits, set in the tiny fictional town of Piama. (I assume it’s fictional as I’ve never heard of it.)White Throat
by Sarah Thornton
Series: Clementine Jones #2
Published by Text Publishing
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
Disgraced former lawyer Clementine Jones is on the shores of paradise—Queensland’s Great Sandy Straits—trying to outrun her past.
Bored with her house-sitting gig, she becomes a reluctant recruit to the local environmental group, campaigning to save an endangered turtle as developers close in. Then a body is found at the base of a quarry, and Clem’s world is turned upside down.
The police say suicide. Clem’s convinced it was murder. She also knows she’s the only one interested in tracking down the killer.
Well, the only one apart from her friend Torrens, ex-con and reformed standover man. And he’s got his own fight on his hands.
Here she stumbles across a former mother figure and becomes embroiled in a fight to save endangered turtles (white-throated snapping turtles more specifically) from a proposed mining development. Clem’s reticent at first but a death (ruled as suicide though she believes it isn’t) motivates her involvement.
Clem identifies a few potential suspects and fairly clumsily attempts to investigate their motives. I did wonder if the characters were a little stereotypical, though perhaps it’s more indicative of small communities and those who take harbour there.
One of the characters, a football player (Torrens), we meet in Lapse re-appears here… seemingly to remind Clem that she’s got a commitment to the team back in Katinga, though adds another layer of danger to Clem’s world.
There’s some suspense in terms of threats to Clem’s life and some action, though less-so in the problem-solving whodunit sense. Those who like the thrill of the chase will be very satisfied though that element was probably a little anticlimactic for me as I like my big shocking ‘reveals’.
I’m enjoying this series and keen to see where Thornton takes Clem next. I can’t remember how I felt about her in the first book but here found her to be naive and a bit of a drama queen. I was certainly invested in her fate but I wondered at one point if I even liked her as she seemed more self-pitying than I remembered.
The standouts of this book are Thornton’s ability to place readers amidst the action. Her scene-setting is vividly descriptive and she spends time on the detail so it feels authentic.
White Throat by Sarah Thornton will be published in Australia by Text Publishing and available from 1 December 2020.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review.