Domestic Noir from Aoife Clifford.

Pen Sheppard is off to Uni and it can’t come soon enough. She is escaping her small town, her mum’s slimy boyfriend, and a secret, a dark secret from long ago. You don’t need to be a murderer to be guilty…

We pick up Pen’s story as she visits her psychiatrist Frank and he asks her as part of her therapy, and lawsuit, to attend sessions. The truth, and what she writes in her diary for her sessions are very different; we follow her as she adjusts to Uni life, tries to make friends, keep her psychiatrist happy and works hard to shake off her past.

I was excited by this book and always want the best for emerging Aussie author. The book jacket had me really hooked, I love domestic noir and the storyline seemed clever, layered and suspenseful. In reality, I just couldn’t get a firm grip on Pen. I didn’t feel for her, I guessed the stalker early on and I feel her best friend deserved more page time to tell her story, which seemed to be plonked on all of one page, then it was all back to Pen. The story had great promise, but I did find myself skipping pages and the ending.. well, there wasn’t one for me, I wish there had been more.


Maybe younger YA readers will have a different viewpoint, but I have read books that have a sharper edge and characters you really invest in. This could be a great ‘first read’ though for those dipping their toe in domestic noir.

3 out 5 for me

All These Perfect Strangers is out March 2016

The Book Jacket

You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.

You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.

Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.

College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

‘This is a novel of disquieting intimacy and controlled suspense, Aoife Clifford deftly tightening the screws until we share the narrator’s sense of emotional and physical confinement and the unremitting grip of the past.’ – Garry Disher, author of Bitter Wash Road

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