2022 Reviews · crime · new release · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

Title: The Unbelieved

Author:  Vikki Petraitis

Published: August 2nd 2022

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 384

Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thriller, Suspense

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

Winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Prize.

‘So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?’ Jane’s voice took on an indignant pitch. ‘Girls lie sometimes.’ I nodded. ‘And rapists lie all the time.’

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she’d requested a transfer to the quiet town she’d grown up in.

But there are some things you can’t run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn’t believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real – and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

Review:

The winner of the inaugural Allen and Unwin Crime Fiction Prize has made a smooth transition from true crime writing to contemporary crime fiction. The Unbelieved was published to great acclaim in August this year, heralding the beginning of a successful career in Australian crime fiction for author Vikki Petraitis. Filled with contentious issues of justice, fear, suppression, abuse, rape, powerlessness, violence, corruption and abuse, The Unbelieved is an up-to-the minute crime fiction release.

Meet Senior Detective Antigone Pollard, a crusader in the field of protecting the innocent and upholding the law. When Antigone finds herself in the coastal township of Deception Bay fresh from a difficult stint in Melbourne, she hopes to find some solace in her old home town. However, not long after her homecoming Antigone becomes directly involved in a difficult rape case. When Antigone digs into this case further, she finds that this incident is just one of a spate of similar attacks in the areas. Opposition comes in every direction for this hard-boiled detective. With little support or backing from her colleagues, Antigone is determined to put an end to these heinous attacks. But silence and disbelief surrounds Antigone – will she be able to break this tough line of denial before more victims are claimed?

I always take note of award-winning books in the crime fiction field and as The Unbelieved collected in the inaugural Allen and Unwin Crime Fiction Prize I was definitely very keen to read it. As I suspected, The Unbelieved proved to be a very hard hitting and timely read, that I appreciated very much.

The Unbelieved signals author Vikki Petraitis’ first entry in the Australian crime fiction field and it is a worthy one. I do hope Petraitis is ready to bring us more Australian crime fiction novels in the future! Drawing on her many years of true crime writing and reporting, Petraitis has managed to pen a novel that is credible, well written and urgent. Combined with characters that are fully developed and a plot that is filled with authentic situations, I found The Unbelieved to be a standout crime fiction text. Interwoven in this engrossing crime story is a hard-line focus on justice, the law, gender bias and reporting practices of sexual assaults. Petraitis has composed a novel that really needed to be written, especially in today’s complex world. This essential social commentary is balanced well within the overall narrative. We get a glimpse into the personal life of the likeable lead protagonist Antigone and her loveable canine companion Waffles. The policing aspect rang true as I made my way through this novel and the almost stifled small-town setting helped to extend my interest in The Unbelieved.

There have been a number of noteworthy crime fiction releases this year and The Unbelieved is an example of a meritorious piece of Australian crime fiction.

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis was published on 2nd August 2022 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Unbelieved, Vikki Petraitis, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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