cover image Dirt Creek

Dirt Creek

Hayley Scrivenor. Flatiron, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-83475-1

Australian author Scrivenor’s stunning debut blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural. During Christmas week 2001, amid a summer so hot that the “edges of the road crumbled,” Det. Sgt. Sarah Michaels and her partner, Det. Constable Wayne Smith, investigate the disappearance of 12-year-old Esther Bianchi in the gritty town of Durton. Esther’s BFF, Veronica Thompson, may have been the last one to see her after she left school but didn’t return home. Or maybe it was their 11-year-old friend, Lewis Kennard, who was bullied at school and telling lies to protect secrets. Progress is stymied with media attention and police support drawn to a high-profile case of missing twins “elsewhere in the state.” The cases may be linked and connected to a drug ring. Betrayals, domestic violence, festering family secrets, and fractured friendships delineate clashes among spouses, parents, children, and extended relatives. Scrivenor does a superb job laying out Sarah and Wayne’s backgrounds and their working relationship as the well-crafted plot builds to a powerful conclusion. Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper won’t want to miss this page-turner. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (Aug.)