The Great Divide by LJM Owen, Review: Atmospheric pageturner

In LJM Owen’s atmospheric pageturner The Great Divide, a city detective hunts a killer through a fog of lies in small-town Tasmania.

The Great Divide Review, LJM Owen

The Great Divide Book Synopsis

Twisted Secrets. Hidden Victims. Monstrous Crimes.

In the rural Tasmanian town of Dunton, the body of a former headmistress of a children’s home is discovered, revealing a tortured life and death.

Detective Jake Hunter, newly arrived, searches for her killer among past residents of the home. He unearths pain, secrets and broken adults. Pushing aside memories of his own treacherous past, Jake focuses all his energy on the investigation. Why are some of the children untraceable? What caused such damage among the survivors?

The identity of her murderer seems hidden from Jake by Dunton’s fog of prejudice and lies, until he is forced to confront not only the town’s history but his own nature…

(Echo Publishing, November 2019)

Genre: Crime-DetectiveThriller, Mystery

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LJM Owen is back, and in fine form, with new novel The Great Divide. It reads as though the first in a gritty new crime series, introducing a new story world and characters distinctly different from her earlier Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth mysteries. The modern narrative style and almost breakneck pace of this novel will appeal to a wider audience I suspect. I certainly found it very hard to put down.

There are several factors that kept me glued to the pages of The Great Divide.

I quite enjoy enigmatic lead characters in my crime fiction, and Detective Jake Hunter is certainly that. He seems an underdog of sorts with principles, burdened by troubles of the past along with being an outsider trying to fit into a small community.

Atmospheric setting

The rugged, rural Tasmanian environment in the depths of winter is atmospheric and isolating; almost as hostile as the insular community living within it. What have they got to hide?

The answer, far more than I even realised until quite some way into this novel. The web of lies, deception and even the crimes themselves are particularly dark, unusual and confronting. The use of the words ‘twisted’ and ‘monstrous’ to describe them in the marketing subtitle is warranted.

And amongst all that Owen manages to subtly seed more than one source of romantic tension/frustration.

The Great Divide is quality genre fiction from LJM Owen. I look forward to seeing what blooms from this highly intriguing series setup.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5  —  Overall 4.25

Get your copy of The Great Divide from:

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About the Author, LJM Owen

Dr L.J.M. Owen has degrees in archaeology, forensic science and librarianship. She speaks five languages and has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia. L.J. was inspired to write the Dr Pimms series by the neglected women’s stories she discovered between the cracks of popular archaeology. Three books in this series have been published by Echo Publishing. L.J.’s new novel is The Great Divide.  L.J. is also the Festival Director of the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival, a celebration of literature and literacy in southern Tasmania, and divides her time between Canberra and southern Tasmania.

This review counts towards the Aussie Author Challenge 2019 and 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.