“It’s just a story.”
This is how Judith self-deprecatingly referred to her new novel after I complained my wife had grabbed it and, before I could get to it, started reading. My wife - a fast thinker but a slow reader - wolfed down Thicker Than Water. I watched her find time to read when normally she wouldn’t bother. A good sign.
When it was finally my turn, I was drawn into the story. A young woman, Lucy, born from a rape, sets out to avenge her mother. The man she seeks, her biological father, lives on the other side of the planet, is Italian, has a loving family, a business under threat from mafiosi, is well-regarded, and has everything to lose from having his crime exposed. All power lies in Lucy’s hands, and the main driver of the narrative is how she uses it.
The setting moves from Victoria, Australia to Southern Italy, both familiar to the author.
Colquhoun’s dialogue is pitch-perfect, and her naturalistic prose is a relaxed yet taut mix of show-and-tell that works well to propel story to just the right pace with just the right amount of context. Any exposition is brief and insightful. I never felt a sense of the authorial voice intruding. The portrayal of Southern Italy is rich without being verbose. Colquhoun paints a picture well. Crisp, clean writing.
I couldn’t fault this charming story – I was hooked, didn’t know what was going to happen next, and kept reading to find out. It may seem like faint praise to any non-writers, but TTW is also beautifully and efficiently structured and edited. And well proofed. I found one misspelling. Did I mention My Asperger’s side?
Despite the dark crime that is the seed of TTW, I’d describe this as a warm, humane and honest portrayal of human behaviour. “Just a story”? Sure, but one I have no trouble saying I enjoyed a great deal. Recommended!
*Disclosure: Judith is a friend and colleague. That said, I paid for my copy, and, trust me here - if Thicker Than Water had turned out to be a dud, I’d have slipped my hands in my pockets and walked away, whistling softly, never writing this review and hoping Jude never asked what I thought of it.
Buy it from Black Pepper Publishing