#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · new release

New Release Book Review: The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin

Title: The Girl Remains

Author: Katherine Firkin

Published: May 4th 2021

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

On the evening of September 22, 1998, three teenage girls venture out for a night of mischief in the coastal town of Blairgowrie. But only two return . . .

For over twenty years the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Cecilia May remains a baffling cold case – until human bones are discovered on an isolated beach.

Now it’s up to Detective Emmett Corban and his team to dig up decades of trauma, and find the missing piece of an investigation that’s as complex as it is tragic.

Does the answer lie with the only suspect, a registered sex offender who confessed, then immediately provided a rock-solid alibi? Or with the two teen survivors – neither of whom can keep their story straight?

But the police aren’t the only ones hunting for the truth: someone else has arrived in the seaside town. And she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to find her own version of justice…


Katherine Firkin entered the Australian crime fiction scene last year with her debut release, Sticks and Stones. This novel was well received across media outlets and the book blogging world. It is a shame that I am yet to get to it, but I did give Firkin’s follow up release, The Girl Remains a go and I’m glad I took a chance on this fantastic writer. The Girl Remains is a well-timed police procedural with plenty of plot diversions and red herrings. It kept me gripped from start to finish.

Travelling back in time to over twenty years earlier, The Girl Remains follows the perplexing case of a missing teenager, who never returned after a night out with her two friends. The case has remained unsolved, but the discovery of human remains on a beach two decades later could help to end this long-standing investigation. With the help of Detective Emmett Corban and his support staff, the reopening of this tragic case from the past ignites more questions than answers. A number of possible suspects emerge, from the girls who accompanied the victim that night, to a known sex offender. But could the perpetrator be someone who has managed to fly under the radar? A story of dark truths, lies, secrets, retribution and understanding, The Girl Remains is police procedural tale that cuts deep.

I am always on the hunt for more Australian crime fiction titles, it is definitely one of my favourite genres. Katherine Firkin is a new face to me personally, but I was made aware of this talented author’s impact in the Australian crime fiction scene mid last year. After reading The Girl Remains, I feel that Katherine Firkin has really made her mark on the Australian crime fiction scene with this novel.

The precision and level of authenticity in relation to the police investigation side of things is this novel’s strong point. I found the police work to be very plausible and highly interesting. I couldn’t pick what was happening so I have to hand it to Firkin, she is an astute author. The Girl Remains is carried along by the strong influence of Detective Emmett Corban. I enjoyed my time with this detective and the team supporting him. I think Firkin was able to maintain a good balance between the investigation and the lives of the cast. I appreciated the level of doubt that runs right through this tale. The mystery level was also set to a high decibel. The Girl Remains is one tense read!

Firkin uses her setting base of the Mornington Peninsula to her advantage. From the first page we are fully immersed in the shady, dark, mysterious and chilling backdrop of this perplexing case. This small coastal location is vividly described by the author, so the reader feels as if they are a fixed part of the surroundings. I certainly felt a rush of cool air as I held this novel in my hands. My final word on The Girl Remains is the author’s handiwork in terms of the overall content of her novel. Firkin’s background in dealing with real life homicide cases from her previous career as a journalist and crime reporter informs this novel very well. There was a sense of intuition and understanding in relation to the police aspects of this fictional case that seemed to ring true, it did send a few shivers down my spine.

If unsolved crimes and cold case investigations fill you with interest, I would definitely recommend The Girl Remains. This is a rattling novel from an author on the rise.

The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin was published on 4th May 2021 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Girl Remains, Katherine Firkin, visit here.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Girl Remains is book #42 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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