All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Second Sight by Aiofe Clifford

on July 26, 2018

Second Sight 
Aiofe Clifford
Simon & Schuster AUS
2018, 344p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

A fugitive in the present. A runaway in the past.

Eliza Carmody returns home to the country to work on the biggest law case of her career. The only problem is this time she’s on the ‘wrong side’ – defending a large corporation against a bushfire class action by her hometown of Kinsale.

On her first day back Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate that crime and hunt for Luke they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district. Eliza is convinced that they belong to someone from her past. 

As Eliza becomes more and more entangled in the investigation, she is pulled back into her memories of youthful friendships and begins to question everyone she knows … and everything she once thought was true.

This is Aoife Clifford’s second novel – I haven’t read her first but I remember that it generated a lot of good feedback so I was keen to try this one. In the opening scene, main character Eliza could be driving into the town I grew up in or one of the many that surround it. It has that real Australian summer country tourist trap feel and although Eliza doesn’t live there anymore, she has the feel of a weary local who knows to avoid the main street. Eliza is back in town to meet with an expert witness for a corporation she is representing who is being sued by basically her entire home town after a devastating bushfire. It’s not known she’s representing them yet but when it gets out Eliza can assume she won’t be high on anyone’s list of favourite people. The town collectively is mentioned to be suffering like a PTSD….very few were untouched by the fire and many are still feeling its devastating effects.

During that drive, Eliza witnesses someone she knew at school in a violent act and becomes the primary eyewitness. It seems that what she saw is very straightforward and now a man is terribly injured because he was a Good Samaritan. But it seems that nothing is ever simple and the more Eliza delves, the more she finds things that make her question not only what she saw, but also what happened to her teenage friend over a decade ago. Something is definitely going on in this town and Eliza could end up dying before she finds the answers.

So I enjoyed quite a bit about this book. I found Eliza a very interesting character and could well relate to her conflicting feelings about being back in her home town. She had quite complicated relationships with her father, formerly a police officer, and her sister. Eliza and her sister seem to have a lot of resentment between them and on Eliza’s part, it definitely goes back towards feelings of inadequacy and that her sister received more preferential treatment as young teenagers. I found all of that really quite heartbreaking. I also found the trips into the past, to learn more about Eliza and her friends when they were younger, to be quite well done. Reminded me of my own teenage years, sneaking out to parties or away from parents at the local town events.

I also liked the way the mystery developed and how certain things that seemed so straightforward became more complex and developed a few more layers over time. Eliza has maintained a strong friendship with one of her high school friends over the years but doesn’t seem particularly connected to the town and doesn’t even seem to have a lot of the details about the bushfire which meant that I felt like I didn’t know as much about the fire as I should. I wanted more information, some of it felt a bit vague, even in terms of Eliza representing the corporation. She doesn’t particularly seem to be doing a lot, so that portion felt a little underrepresented. The pacing was a little off for me too – the first half of the book felt quite slow and then the last probably quarter feels very fast and like everything happens all at once in a very short amount of pages.

The relationships were very strong in this and they were really what provoked a lot of my strong reactions reading this, particularly Eliza’s relationship with her father and the way that plays out with what her sister finally tells her. It made me think a lot about regrets and words unsaid and how sometimes it can be too late before you know it. I ended up getting really invested in the mystery of what had happened to Eliza’s teenage friend as well, and why. I wanted so many things to work out for Eliza – she was facing so many struggles throughout this book, both personal and professional. And I loved the portrayal of that town and Eliza returning to it. I can relate so much to that.

A few quibbles but I ended up really enjoying this and I will have to go dig up Aoife Clifford’s first book, All These Perfect Strangers so that I can read it.


Book #122 of 2018


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