cover image Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter

Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter

Lizzie Pook. Simon & Schuster, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9821-8049-2

In Pook’s lush debut, a young woman investigates her father’s disappearance in late-19th-century western Australia. After Charles Brightwell goes missing from his pearler ship, his 20-year-old headstrong daughter, Eliza, who has already lost her mother and younger brother, refuses to believe he’s dead. When she learns that Balarri, Charles’s right-hand man, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, she launches her own investigation. A diary left behind by Charles provides helpful clues that lead Eliza through dangerous areas dominated by the criminal Brotherhood of the Waning Moon and cutthroat business rivals. Eliza receives assistance from Axel Kramer, an attractive German entrepreneur, and a local priest who lends Eliza and Axel his boat so they can resume the search on the small islands that dot the western coast. This final, most dangerous leg of Eliza’s journey tests her physical endurance, bravery, and faith in the belief she can save her father. Though the revelations about Charles’s disappearance feel a bit lackluster after all the adventure, the author offers plenty of sensory details and satisfying character development for Eliza. Overall, Pook casts an intoxicating spell. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary. (June)