The Girl in Kellers Way: Review + Megan Goldin on suspense
The Girl in Kellers Way explores chilling psychological themes, and after a bit of a slow start, Megan Goldin’s alternating first-person narrative really hits its stride.
Today we welcome author Megan Goldin to Booklover Book Reviews to celebrate the release of her debut novel The Girl in Kellers Way and to discuss whether suspense has a place in a wired world.
Our brief review of this novel and an opportunity for you to win a copy thanks to Penguin Books Australia then follows.
The Girl in Kellers Way Book Synopsis
A heart-stopping novel of deception and delusion from an exciting new Australian author of domestic noir.
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 . . .
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Does Suspense Have a Place In A Wired World?
by Megan Goldin
Domestic noir novels are a thing, if you weren’t aware already. The original novels in this genre go back to the gothic romances of the 19th century and the 1938 novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which was a best seller for almost thirty years and has never gone out of print.
Du Maurier and other early pioneers of the genre had an advantage over modern day novelists when it came to weaving suspense into their plots. They wrote at a time when information was often incomplete and would come in dribs and drabs weeks after an event via letter or telegraph. Sometimes it never came at all.
In those days, anticipation was woven into the fabric of daily life. Today, the only anticipation we have is in the fleeting moment when our cellphones check the server for new emails.
Du Maurier’s Rebecca was about a young woman who marries a widow still apparently grieving the death of his first wife. She returns with him to his English country manor of Manderley where the new wife clumsily tries to find out about her predecessor Rebecca, stirring up all sorts of secrets in the process.
It’s a gripping story that was made into a masterful film by Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, it’s hard to imagine that plot working in a contemporary setting.
If the story was set today, the new wife, who is never named in the novel, would have Googled Rebecca on her phone under the folds of the white table cloth at the restaurant in Monte Carlo where they first met. Later that evening, in the privacy of her hotel room she would have checked Rebecca’s Facebook page and her extensive collection of scantily clad Instagram photos complete with “LOLs” and emojis. She’d know Rebecca’s design aesthetic by checking out her Pinterest page, and Rebecca’s views on world events by reading her Twitter feed. The story wouldn’t get past the first chapter.
In a world in which information is available in seconds, it’s tougher than ever for writers to convincingly create suspense about the unknown for the simple reason that there is little that isn’t known today.
When I wrote my psychological thriller The Girl In Kellers Way, I grappled with this reality as I wrote about the troubled wife of a psychology professor whose marriage unravels in the aftermath of a crime that only she knows occurred. It almost makes one want to write historical thrillers just to avoid the homicidal effect of digital on intrigue and anticipation.
It’s not just suspense that is harder to create in an age in which information is at the tip of our fingers. It’s that CCTV cameras, DNA tests, biometric passports and a range of other technologies make it much easier for police to solve crimes, and much harder for criminals, or spies to get away.
When Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated with VX nerve gas at an airport in Kuala Lumpur in February, nothing was left to the imagination. We quickly saw CCTV footage of the assassination and photos of Kim Jong-nam sitting on a chair as he suffered the first effects of the poison that would soon kill him.
It was an incident that in the past might have become fodder for an entire industry of conspiracy theory books and documentaries. Today, it’s an open and shut case. Even the assassins were found within hours thanks to CCTV footage and data bases that allowed Malaysian police to track them down in record time.
For decades, people have been intrigued by gossip about John F. Kennedy’s affair with Marilyn Monroe. There is still a veil of mystery over their relationship. In contrast, when it comes to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, we know just about everything there is to know; what, where, how and when. We’ve even seen the notorious blue dress that she was wearing at the time.
Mystery is elusive in our day and age. Perhaps that’s what makes us hungrier than ever for stories that keep us on the edge of our seats and intrigue us with twists and turns that we can’t possibly anticipate.
Firstly an admission. I had mistakenly assumed that Australian author Megan Goldin’s debut The Girl in Kellers Way was set in Australia. Quickly realising the atmospheric setting was a college town in the United States, I scolded myself for slipping into narrow-minded thinking. Many of my favourite novels written by Australian authors are set in locations other than Australia.
Secondly, look past the use of ‘Girl’ in the title because this novel features women and very gritty adult issues.
After a bit of a slow start (incl. a glitch or two missed in the edit), Goldin’s alternating first person narrative really hits its stride. The contrast between the viewpoints of highly dependent and erratic (unreliable?) housewife Julie and the very likeable, stoic and reliable detective Mel keeps readers guessing and short chapters help build suspense. The psychological themes explored, particularly that of memory manipulation, are at times chilling.
Although the perpetrator’s identity was clear to me early on, Goldin’s well constructed red-herrings and gradual disclosure of the complex criminal means, motives and web of deceit sustained my interest. By this story’s conclusion readers are left with much food for serious thought.
Was there anything strikingly original about this novel? No, it drew upon a cast of well worn tropes, but these were generally very well executed. Megan Goldin’s The Girl in Kellers Way is a strong contribution to the very popular domestic thriller genre.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5 — Overall 3.75
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Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime-Detective, Mystery
This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2017 and 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.
About the Author, Megan Goldin
Megan Goldin worked as a foreign correspondent for the ABC and Reuters in Asia and the Middle East where she covered war zones and wrote about war, peace and international terrorism, and was the deputy head of Media for Yahoo in Asia. After she had her third child, she returned to her hometown of Melbourne to raise her three sons and write fiction, often while waiting for her children at their sports training sessions. The Girl in Kellers Way is her debut novel. She released her second novel, Escape Room, in June 2019.
The Safe Place by Anna Downes / Her Perfect Lies by Lana Newton / In the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey / Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum / House of Sticks by Peggy Frew
Thanks to the lovely people at Penguin Random House Australia we have a paperback copy of The Girl in Kellers Way to giveaway:
- open to entrants with Australian mailing addresses only
- extra entries for spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook/Google+/Webpage
- extra entries for registered participants of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017
- entries close midnight 23 June 2017
- the winner will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page
- the winner must respond to my email requesting their mailing address within 5 days otherwise their prize will be forfeited and another winner selected
SORRY, ENTRIES NOW CLOSED – See winner announcement