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Book DetailsISBN: 9781922330031
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Book Review: White Throat by Sarah Thornton - Reviewed by CloggieA (22 Oct 2020)
White Throat is the second book in the Clementine Jones series by Australian author and former lawyer, Sarah Thornton. Unable to face the town of Katinga once the uncomfortable facts of her past become known, lawyer/football coach Clementine Jones flees to the coastal Queensland village of Piama.
Her boredom with dog-sitting in an idyllic little fibro shanty on the beach leads to a bit of behind-the-scenes legal work and lobbying for the local conservation group, Wildlife Association of Great Sandy Straits, coincidentally run by a close family friend, Helen Westley. The object of their campaign is the multi-national mining company proposing a port development that will require dredging of the tidal flats, destroying the habitat of the endangered white-throated snapping turtle, a biological wonder— a cloacal ventilating turtle. Auntie Helen wants her to take a more prominent role, but Clem prefers to stay under the radar.
Then Helen’s body is found at the base of a fifteen-metre cliff in the local quarry; the police rule suicide, but Clem is certain that Helen has been murdered. The motive surely involves the port proposal, so Clem reasons that opponents of the WAGSS campaign are suspects, and the only way to assess their guilt will be to take on Helen’s role and interview them.
Clem finds herself soliciting for funds and planning next steps with volunteers in the campaign in between checking out the mine’s representatives, the mayor (who sees the jobs likely to be generated by the mine as votes), and the representative of a group of residents, stung by a financial scam and so desperate to sell their properties at the inflated prices the mining company will offer.
Distractions from her covert investigations are the arrival of one of the Katinga football team (an ex-con seeking a place to lie low), calls from a Katinga lover, a puzzling irregularity in Helen’s will and, despite her ruined reputation, a few job offers.
As Clem tries to pressure police to actually investigate Helen’s death, she also does a girly act for the unconsciously patriarchal, collects mud samples from tyres, is pressured to return to her footy coaching role, plants listening devices, and makes unlawful entries, all while unaware of a watcher (or two).
Before Clem has discovered what really happened to Helen, she has fished from a tinny, engaged in a spot of blackmail, impersonated a criminal lawyer, been pissed upon, indulged in phone sex, pretended to be corruptible, watched turtles hatch, and made promises she has no intention of keeping, There is gunplay, but Clem’s weapons are a green plastic water-pistol and a spear-gun.
Instalment two of Clementine Jones is certainly topical: Thornton easily evokes her setting and the mindset of the locals; if Clem’s tendency to underestimate the degree of difficulty of task she sets herself, or overestimate her abilities, that just adds entertainment value in the lead-up to a very exciting climax. Often darkly funny, this is excellent Australian crime fiction. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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