At last here is what you have been waiting for, a brand new thriller writer has entered the scene and brought one of Australia’s iconic locations into harsh reality. Tony Cavanaugh’s debut novel, Promise, is a deeply chilling tale of a serial killer who is targeting young girls and backpackers in one of Australia’s most idyllic locations, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Typically described as a prime holiday or retirement destination, this novel exposes something that we might have preferred was left covered up.
The hero of the story is retired detective Darian Richards, who has handed in his badge and gun from the Victorian police force and headed as far North as he could manage, trying to outrun his memories of his last case – a case he couldn’t solve. For Darian is a specialist in homicide, but not just any homicide, serial homicides. He has been on the job since the term was first coined by Scotland Yard and he has just had enough.
And then a serial killer starts operating in Darian’s new back yard. This is something he just cannot ignore, try though he might to stay out of the local police force’s way. For the killer is targetting young, blonde, pretty girls, just like Darian’s last case. The bodies are never found, though, so the local police are unable to make any progress on the case. However Darian can see some glimmers of light – and so he wrestles with his conscience to stay in the background and just poke around the edges just a little. Soon, though, he realises that his reputation is known even here where he has settled down, and that eventually he must come to the attention of the community, the police, the media, and – what’s possibly worse – the killer as well.
Told from both Darian’s and the killer’s points of view, Tony Cavanaugh’s debut novel is compelling and sinister. There is a great deal of thought put into describing the psychology of the killer, which thus feels disturbingly real, especially when told from the killer’s perspective. The novel has all the hallmarks of a fine thriller, with enough good Australian background thrown in to make you check over your shoulder next time you go to the supermarket. That’s a Promise.
Available now: Hachette RRP$29.99