WORDS: Dave Bradley, Arts Reviewer
The sixth novel by the New Zealand-born but Melbourne-residing Pomare (hot on the heels of last year’s noir-ish The Wrong Woman) is haunted by COVID and those especially harsh lockdowns in Victoria’s capital, and recalls JPP’s fourth novel The Last Guests because it’s all about family. To coin a phrase.
Divorced, slightly boozy Mum Lou is preparing for another lockdown, and her teenage son Samuel has promised that he’ll be home in time for the 8.00pm curfew so that they can then pass the days/weeks/whatever cooped-up together. However, 8.00pm comes and goes and there’s no sign of Samuel, which means that Lou must conduct her own investigation with no help from her cruel ex-hubby Marko, and knowing full well that she could get arrested for being, you know, outside.
No one seems to be sure where Samuel is and his social media sites haven’t been updated (always a bad sign!), and Lou discovers that he isn’t with his snooty girlfriend Jessica too. When he finally does call, he’s evidently in trouble, despite his protestations, but how can Lou help in a town that’s locked-down within an inch of its life?
Given that there are only a handful of key figures and locations here, it’s surprising how tricky Pomare’s tale becomes, with particularly deceptive touches and a few cool twists that do genuinely catch you unawares. There’s also much of this author’s rich characterisation, with chief protagonist Lou painted initially as something of a wreck, but growing in power and bravery as the story progresses.
Because, after all, it’s all about family.
Now where have we heard that again?