In Lisa Walker’s debut novel, Liar Bird, Cassandra Daley is a sharp, gorgeous, PR Queen in Sydney. Living in Manly with her hairdresser boyfriend Ant, she is untouchable – until suddenly she makes a mistake and plummets from the heights of PR glitz to the bottom of tabloid schlock. All because she broke the second rule of PR. The first rule is “Do what it takes”. The second, “.. But don’t get caught.” Unfortunately, Cassandra got caught buying some grass-roots support (also known as astroturf) for a rainforest development program, and now is fired, and shamed in the public media.
What’s left for her to do? She gathers the shreds of her dignity and goes to lie low in Beechville, in far northern NSW, as the PR officer for a NSW Wildlife office. All she wants is anonymity and a chance to lay low till the furore back in Sydney dies down, then she can come swanning back into her old fast-lane lifestyle. And at first glance, Beechville promises to do just that. The town has a pub and a supermarket, and not much else besides a grumpy, but oh-so-sexy ranger, Mac.
The town shows Cassandra some interesting times, with a resident frog in her toilet and a host of alarming noises around her cottage, but by far the most interesting is her neighbour, Mac the ranger, and his certainty that he has seen the long-extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in the rainforest. Cassandra is torn between her growing attraction for Mac and this opportunity to win back her fame by bringing the Tasmanian tiger back from extinction.
This novel is fun and light-hearted, and the story is helped along by the normal complement of quirky characters that you would expect to find in any Australian town, augmented by wildlife. It’s by no means unpredictable but all the same, is an entertaining read about how a Liar Bird might be able to change not only its song but also its feathers.
Available now: HarperCollins RRP$24.99