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Broken Bay by Margaret Hickey

26/06/2023
Broken Bay by Margaret Hickey

Broken Bay is Margaret Hickey’s third South Australian rural crime novel to feature Sergeant Mark Ariti. In her debut Cutters End, Hickey took Ariti from Adelaide back into the country. In the follow up, Stone Town, Ariti had moved back to his home town of Booralama. Both of these were arid and dusty, but Broken Bay finds Ariti in a completely new environment – the Limestone Coast of South Australia. Once again, Hickey digs deeply into a regional community, this one split between the fishing and farming.

The landscape of this novel is full of limestone caves and sinkholes (also known as cenotes) which are a magnet for cave divers. The cold open of Broken Bay involves the death of a cave diver and the discovery of another body in the cave. Mark Ariti, on holiday in the town of Broken Bay is drawn into the case, particularly when it is suspected that the body is the sister of the family that had taken him out on their boat, missing for twenty years. Before long Ariti is not only trying to help solve this twenty year old mystery that links two of the town’s best known families but also the murder of one of the town’s more flamboyant residents. As always, he ends up being assisted by his friend and fellow detective Jagdeep.

There is plenty of Australian rural crime fiction, but what sets Hickey’s books apart is her deep understanding of these communities and the way they tick. That, together with a relatable protagonist in Mark Ariti helps her deliver another atmospheric, sometimes tense work of Australian crime fiction. Given the time spent in caves it is not one in which it pays to be too claustrophobic.

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Broken Bay by Margaret Hickey

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