Australian Fiction | Wyatt’s World

Just as Nordic novels had their heyday before becoming a reliable source for not-to-miss titles, Australian fiction is having its own moment. These five new novels illustrate how the history of the nation and its changeable locales provide fodder for mysteries, thrillers, and literary fiction.

  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey (Hachette).
    There are plenty of threads to unravel in Bailey’s rural-set debut mystery. For example, secrets about the victim, a high school drama teacher found dead, floating in a lake, and the tangled knot of Det. Sgt. Gemma Woodstock’s personal life, including that she knows the deceased.
  • A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey (Knopf).
    The Booker Prize–winning Carey is back with a road trip of a novel set during the 1954 Redex Trial race (a car race around the vast Australian continent). The race is merely setup, however, for a character-centered story about identity and history.
  • Force of Nature by Jane Harper (Flatiron: Macmillan).
    This second book in Harper’s “Aaron Falk” thriller series (after the author’s breakout debut, The Dry, optioned by Reese Witherspoon for the movies) puts the detective on the trail of a missing woman—who is attached to a different case he is working. Offering fast, driving, and involving novels, Harper has quickly rocketed to the top of a crowed genre.
  • Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth (Harper).
    Examining Australia’s dark history, Howarth’s debut takes place in the 1800s and mines the bitter past of colonialism as two brothers join a manhunt for a suspected killer, an Aboriginal. Arresting in landscape and story; Western readers will want to explore.
  • The Life To Come by Michelle de Kretser (Catapult).
    Linked stories set around the globe (with many based in Sydney) form the spine of de Kretser’s nuanced, moody, and reflective character-focused musing, which penetrates the disruptions and yearnings of the central figures in each piece—a middling writer chief among them.

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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at

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