WAKE By Shelly Burr @HodderBooks @ByssheShelley #Wake #BookReview

Available now / Hardback / ebook / audiobook /



Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.


This is one brilliant debut read, parts of the crime reminded me of a famous one in America. This story is set in a fictitious town in NSW known as Nannine. It’s a small town very atmospheric, a place where everyone knows everyone, and knows all their business as well- or do they?

PI Lane Holland arrives in Nannine to investigate the cold case of missing twin Evelyn McCreery. But when he arrives no one wants to speak to him. He tries to talk to Mina the twin left behind but she is very secretive herself, she has cut herself off from most things, she still lives in the family home. You have to really feel for Mina, her mother had spent the time after Evelyn’s disappearance fighting to find her, writing books, doing media appearances until she had passed away. But Mina had only been 6 when her twin went missing, it was like Evelyn was the better twin, the better looking twin. She had become hardened to it to an extent. But now 26 she has had no life at all, living in the shadow of the missing Evelyn.

What is Lane Holland hiding? He is another victim of some sort of abuse, he has been raising his younger sister Lynnie for years, working on cold cases around the country mostly focused on missing young girls. Is there a reason for that? When he initially approaches Mina she sends him packing or almost.

The officer initially assigned Evelyn’s missing case Starrett had been pretty young at the time, it was a big case to be working on. It had never been solved. There was also another missing girl case Christa but that had never had half the press footage that Evelyn’s case had, maybe because the family didn’t have the money that the McCreery’s had. Mina had sent Lane to the police station to talk to Starrett, but it wasn’t quite what he had expected.

How could a 6 year old have gone missing from the home, neither Mina or her mum had woke up despite the twins sharing a bedroom. No footprints outside the window, no forced entry, no tyre tracks. What happened to Evelyn? Will the case ever be solved? Will she be dead or alive?

This is a slow paced read, you really feel compassion not just for Mina but also for Lane, both caught up on things in the past, neither have really been able to move on and live their lives to the full. The atmosphere is perfect, the heat, the small town gossip. Mixed in are an Internet forum known as MyMurder Forums where they discuss cold cases obviously this is focussed on the Evelyn McCreery case with some saying that Mina murdered her sister, or the mum did it and she is buried on the land somewhere. Each coming up with what they think happened. Which adds to the story.

I read this in two sittings, and if you like a could crime mystery then this is one for you. I look forward to see what Shelley Burr comes up with next.


Shelley Burr is the winner of the CEA Debut Dagger award with WAKE (2019), an alumni of the ACTWriter’s Centre Hardcopy program (2018) and a Varuna fellow. When not writing she works at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in Australia. She lives in Canberra, but grew up splitting her time between Newcastle and Glenrowan, where her father’s family are all sheep farmers. WAKE is Shelley’s first novel.

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