* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *
As the cover suggests, Under The Midnight Sky by Australian author Anna Romer is a dark mystery novel set in Australian bushland.
Abby lives in a small township called Gundara and has a dark past. She's a journalist for her local newspaper and is obsessed with the murders that took place in Deepwater Gorge many years ago. Her personal level of involvement in the crimes is the first mystery of the novel.
Reclusive author Tom Gabriel has purchased a ramshackle country manor known as Ravensong, and recently moved to the area to work on his new book. Abby wants to interview Tom for the newspaper and despite his aloof and gruff demeanour, they strike up a friendship of sorts. When Abby discovers a hidden room in an attic at the top of his house, they begin to pool their resources and investigative skills to get to the bottom of several mysteries before them. This includes the case of a current girl who may have gone missing.
Under The Midnight Sky is a mystery novel that could just as easily be called crime or rural crime. The Australian setting and relaxed dialogue made the novel feel instantly relatable.
The alternate time periods (present and 1940s-1950s) were handled well, although I did struggle at first with the numerous character perspectives. We had first person perspective from Abby, first person diary entries from another character and third person perspectives from Tom, Lil and Joe. Not to mention third person perspective from the missing girl and perhaps others I've missed. There was no indication at the beginning of each chapter as to which character we were with and I really had to concentrate to follow the plot threads.
Under The Midnight Sky is a dark mystery full of secrets, family trauma, sibling love, burgeoning love, obsessive love and enduring love. Themes of memory and family are also explored with a significant reveal at the end. The slow burn romance that developed between two characters started off well, until he called her 'hon' which made me cringe.
Under The Midnight Sky was an engrossing read but is losing a star because two bodies weren't re-homed/re-buried at the end.
My rating = ***
P.S See my review of Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer.