When the biggest legal case of her career brings Eliza Carmody back to Kinsale, the hometown she thought she had left forever, she witnesses an old friend commit a crime that sends her on a dangerous quest to uncover the mysteries of her childhood that the rest of the town seems willing to ignore.
With her friend on the run and the police investigating the bones of an unidentified dead body at a historic homestead near town, Eliza becomes convinced that the truth lies in her memories of the New Year’s Eve years ago when her friend Grace disappeared from Kinsale forever.
While Eliza desperately explores the connections between the crimes of the present and those of the past, she begins to suspect that no one ― even her own family ― is telling the truth.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author Aoife Clifford, and discussed her latest thriller, SECOND SIGHT:
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
I got a friend of mine who is a crime-fiction loving psychiatrist to analyse every single one of my characters to make sure they were ‘psychologically plausible’. She also gave me her best guess as to their likely outcomes after the novel finished. It was fascinating to see your characters living beyond the page and your pen.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Like many other mystery authors, I’ve been influenced by two legends of the field – Agatha Christie (her books were the first ‘adult’ books I read) and Raymond Chandler. I studied The Big Sleep at high school and it changed my life. More recently, Peter Temple, The Broken Shore, is a masterclass of Australian crime writing. It won applause, awards and readers around the world except it didn’t really crack the U.S. Do yourself a favour and give it a go.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
Australian thriller writing is having a golden moment. I would love that this book might play a part in introducing American audiences to Australian writers and some wonderful books. If you need recommendations just get in touch!
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I like every writing project to stretch my skills and be different from the last one. One of the things I wanted to achieve with this one was a focus on the landscape. What surprised me was that the unique Australian fauna would become a crucial plot point! Kangaroos and cockatoos – this book has it all.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I want them to get to the end and say I didn’t see that coming but now that I know, it couldn’t have finished any other way. I also want them to get to know Australia a little better. Most Australians are actually city dwellers hugging the coast, but I grew up in a country town so it was important to me to represent that world authentically.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I love reading and writing crime fiction and thrillers. For me this is the genre that holds out its hand to the reader and says we are in this together. I love the adrenalin rush of being a reader trying to solve the crime before the protagonist. I deliberately structured this book so that at times the reader is way ahead of my main character, Eliza Carmody, and then at other times something comes crashing in from left field to knock everyone sideways. So much fun to write – hopefully lots of fun to read.
Aoife Clifford is the author of All These Perfect Strangers, which was long-listed for both the Australian Industry General Fiction Book of the Year and the Voss Literary Prize. Born in London of Irish parents, she grew up in New South Wales and now lives in Melbourne. Clifford has won two premier short story prizes for crime fiction in Australia, the Scarlet Stiletto and the S.D. Harvey Ned Kelly Award, among other prizes. She has also been shortlisted for the UK Crime Association’s Debut Dagger.
To learn more about Aoife and her work, please visit her website.