Cutters End by Margaret Hickey

 ‘He wasn’t coming back.’

On New Year’s Eve, 1989, near Cutters End in South Australia, a body is discovered near a fire damaged car. Michael Denby’s body had burns and a broken leg. A finding of accidental death was made.

But thirty-two years later, the case is reopened. Several people, including a high-profile celebrity for whom Michael Denby was a hero, believe that he was murdered. In July 2021, Acting Inspector Mark Ariti is seconded to the case. He knows some of the witnesses from 1989. After interviewing those he can from the old case files, Ariti travels to Cutters End. Ariti works with local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur and soon discovers that there are other unsolved cases linked to Cutters End.

During their investigation Ariti and Kaur find some new information which seems to demonstrate that Michael Denby was not the hero some thought him to be. And in the background, Ariti has some domestic issues to deal with.

So, what really happened to Michael Denby? And what other secrets are being held by both other locals and witnesses?

I enjoyed this novel. I thought I had the mystery worked out, and then a twist took me by surprise. Ms Hickey has created a remote rural setting in which I could feel both the heat and the wretched flies. I enjoyed Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur and her diligent police work and wondered whether Acting Inspector Mark Ariti would be able to move beyond the domestic issues that are troubling him.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith