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A Child's Book of True Crime


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Chloe Hooper was born in 1973, and educated at the University of Melbourne and Columbia University, New York, where she studied creative writing under Philip Roth. She lives in Australia.

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'Funny, edgy and sparky as sherbet, Hooper's novel lingers in the mind with all the sweetness and menace of childhood itself' - Independent

About the Author

Chloe Hooper was born in 1973. Her Observer article about the Doomadgee case, 'Island of Lost Souls', was shortlisted for the Amnesty International Media Awards. Her novels include The Tall Man, which won seven major literary awards in Australia and The Engagement, both published by Jonathan Cape.


This first novel is no timid creature. Rather, Chloe Hooper has embraced big themes - sex, death, childhood, history - and has done so with a powerful individual style. The narrator, Kate, is a young teacher in a small Tasmanian town who is having an affair with the father of one of her students. Her lover is married to the writer of a successful true crime book about a murder in the area, tellingly involving a married couple and the husband's lover. This intertwining of sex and death is central to the novel. Just as the prose is suffused with sexuality, death pervades Kate's environment - the roads around the town are littered with roadkill; war memorials in country towns recall the fallen; her father's school was built on a graveyard. And throughout the book there is the palimpsest of violent episodes in Tasmania's history, particularly the genocide of the Aboriginal population. Individual histories are thus shadowed by other people's histories and by broader social history. With so much going on beneath the surface, the `undertow' in the music Kate and Thomas listen to on their way to a hotel room serves as a metaphor for the novel itself. Hooper has brilliantly created a world in which the ground shifts constantly underneath the narrator's, and the reader's, feet. Highly literary, and filled with ideas, this book justifies the `Next Big Thing' hype. Lorien Kaye is editor of AB&P. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

From a young Australian comes this darkly comic debut starring Kate Byrne, a 22-year-old fourth-grade teacher at Endport Primary in Tasmania. One of Kate's favorite students is Lucien Marne, whose precociousness and premature cynicism make him an outsider in class. He greatly resembles his father, Thomas, a well-to-do lawyer with whom Kate is having a passionate affair. After Thomas's urbane wife, Veronica, publishes a creepy children's book, Murder at Black Swan Point, strange things begin to happen to Kate. In her book, Veronica inserts cute Australian animal characters into a gruesome plot based on a real-life crime: teenager Eleanor Siddell worked as an assistant to veterinarian Graeme Harvey; the older man seduced Eleanor, who easily succumbed to his charms. Allegedly, when Graeme's wife discovered their secret trysts, she murdered the girl and disappeared, leaving her abandoned car atop Suicide Cliffs. Now, in the wake of increasingly disturbing events the failure of her car's brakes, Lucien's violent drawings Kate suspects that perhaps Veronica wrote the book as a warning, or maybe even a plan of action. Kate's paranoia leads her to distrust everyone, including herself. The writing, though frequently excellent, is compromised by the book's overall feeling of disorganization. Kate displays a level of sophistication unlikely for a 22-year-old who's just striking out on her own she tosses off such observations as "perhaps all perversity comes gift-wrapped, so to speak, in the banal" and far too many pages are devoted to her musings on Eleanor's murder. Hooper's wicked, sexy tale nevertheless proves she is a writer of great promise. 6-city author tour. (Mar. 19) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Utterly beguiling" * Guardian *
"It is difficult to believe that this clever, creepy tale is Chloe Hooper's first novel... Its originality and ambition make it a deeply impressive debut" * Sunday Telegraph *
"A finely calibrated meditation on a young woman's awakening to her sexual powers and to the violent undercurrents of Australian history" * Scotland on Sunday *
"Intriguing and resonant... Hooper succeeds where far more seasoned writers often fall short... she forces open her material and she does this with a curiosity and an instinctive grace" * New York Times Book Review *
"This book will win prizes. It will be made into a film. But most importantly it will enthral millions of people worldwide. A true classic" * Daily Mirror *

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