Title: Catch Us the Foxes
Author: Nicola West
Published: July 7th 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out …
Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small Australian country town
Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local newspaper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of her best friend – the town’s reigning showgirl, Lily Williams.
Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.
When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.
What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation.
Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way she could never have dreamed of.
What a debut! Catch Us the Foxes is the clever, intricate, surprising and revealing first novel from Nicola West. A story inspired by her country hometown and her father’s profession as a police officer, Catch Us the Foxes is a startling tale that sees this first-time author tread new ground in Australian fiction.
Set in a small Australian country town, Catch Us the Foxes is the story of a young and passionate journalist named Marlowe (Lo) Robertson, who has a dream to move away from her dreary home town to a more exciting life elsewhere. Lo is charged with the job of reporting a local show for the town’s newspaper. However, a shocking discovery is made at the show, the dead body of Lo’s close friend Lily Williams. Lily was also the town’s showgirl. This awful discovery deeply affects this tight knit community. What makes this case even more tragic and complex are the marks that are found on Lily’s body. These odd knife carvings bear strange symbols, that Lo believes must hold a clue as to what happened to Lily. However, when Lo consults the town’s police chief over these weird marks, he asks her to keep quiet. This makes Lo uneasy, especially as the police chief is also her father. Lily’s death causes shockwaves that gains the attention of the media at the national level. Lo sees this as an opportunity to made the headlines with her name splashed all over it as an investigative reporter. However, in pursuit of a lucrative headline piece, Lo’s investigations unearth a cesspool of lies, deceit, shocking truths and dark secrets. Lo will never be the same after her direct involvement in this life altering investigation.
Catch Us the Foxes is a debut title from Sydney based author Nicola West. Already dividing readers and gaining plenty of attention across the publishing world, I have to say that I have embraced rather than resisted this new title. While others have expressed their disappointment in the ending, as well as the complex nature of this puzzling narrative, Catch Us the Foxes was a refreshing read for me. Although I did have to call on a friend to help reassure my response and explain the ending/plot twist, I was pleased with the way this one turned out.
It has become quite common of late for new crime and thriller reads set in country Australia to be compared to Jane Harper’s The Dry. Catch Us the Foxes is a debut piece that has been likened to Jane Harper’s novel. This comparison is warranted due to the stifling small town Australian backdrop that underscores this novel. However, the other linkage Catch Us the Foxes has is to the television masterpiece Twin Peaks. I agree with this comparison, but I also saw two other television dramas as influences in this book – The Killing and Top of the Lake. However, book and screen comparisons aside, Catch Us the Foxes was an atmospheric and murky read, with so many grey areas. Beyond the strategic twists and turns, we are presented with a narrative that explores a number of uneasy themes. These topics include mental health, reporting, family, trust, friendships, relationships, family ties, crime, violence, abuse and cults. Trust is an overarching theme that run right through the core of this novel, splintering it in different directions. It is important to approach Catch Us the Foxes with an open mind and a clear head. I’m treading very carefully with this review as it is quite hard to expand upon without spoiling the plot for potential readers – it is that kind of novel!
West nails both the small-town setting in Catch Us the Foxes and the embedded narrative (a book within a book) format. West also presents her readers with an eclectic cast. From lead character Lo, through to family, friends, foes and the general townsfolk of the area depicted in the novel, Catch Us the Foxes keeps the reader on their toes. I was suspicious of everyone and everything in this novel. Nothing made sense, or added up, no matter how hard I tried to reach a resolution before the flooring end. Be prepared for a big close to Catch Us the Foxes. I know I’ve been mulling over this one sometime after my official reading experience with Nicola West’s book reached an end. I think my hair is still standing on end!
Catch Us the Foxes is a discordant tale, that will incite plenty of interest, discussion and debate around this canny narrative.
Catch Us the Foxes by Nicola West was published on 7th July 2021 by Simon & Schuster. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Catch Us the Foxes, Nicola West, here.
*I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Catch Us the Foxes is book #64 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge