Review Blog

Nov 09 2010

Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard

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Random House Australia, 2010. ISBN 9781742750491.
(Age 12+) Recommended. Winner of the 2010 Arthur Ellis Crime Award, Haworth-Attard has created a scary, engrossing story that kept me reading to the end. Dee is frightened when bones are discovered on the mountain. To make it worse, a ring belonging to her friend Mary Ann Simpson was found with the bones, and other girls have disappeared from the area as well. Dee, like her grandmother, has the 'sight', and she catches glimpses of people who have died, but whose spirits are unwilling to move onto the afterlife. This ability, as well as the fact that her mother disappeared when she was a baby, makes her an outsider in the small town where she lives.
The suspense that Haworth-Attard builds up is totally gripping, as she describes the small town gossip and stifling attitudes that Dee and her grandmother have to tolerate. I virtually read this book in one sitting as I followed the progress of the police investigation as they attempted to find what turned out to be a serial killer. The plot twists are excellent, with few clues given to the identity of the murderer until the very end and the addition of the ghosts that Dee sees make it an enthralling read.
The book is rich with well-developed characters. Dee is a pragmatic child, intelligent and forthright and I loved the way that she was determined to have an education and do something with it. Descriptions of the health care that her grandmother gave the poorer people show what a strong and helpful character she was. Clarence, the soldier who has returned from the war in France, appears often to talk to Dee and the reader learns much about the First World War and what it was like afterwards for the families whose men had been killed.
I enjoy mystery stories and feel that Haunted is an excellent example of the genre.
Pat Pledger

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