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Fiery and Exciting Thriller: Review of Second Sight by Aoife Clifford

July 16, 2018

Eliza Carmody has officially made it – escaping the confines of her small, countrytown, she has worked hard to become a renowned and successful lawyer. But she hasn’t forgotten the life she lived in Kinsale, and when she returns home to the small town to work on the biggest legal case of her career to date, remnants of her past pop up everywhere.

For Eliza who’s spent years rebuilding her identity, becoming someone new, someone defined by so much more than where she came from, this is an odd and unsettling experience. Eliza’s feeling of disconnect is made much worse by the fact that she is defending a large cooperation against a bushfire class action by her hometown. She can feel her two different identities in competition – her past self and present self, cruelly pitted against one another in a career-defining legal battle.

Her first day in town, Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate the crime and hunt for Luke, they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district that Eliza frequented in her youth. Eliza’s world is suddenly turned upside down as she uncovers memories she had long-since repressed. Why is she convinced she knows who the bones belong to?

As Eliza becomes more and more immersed in the investigation, she is reminded of her youth in Kinsale, of her friends and family, but not all these memories are happy. Soon, Eliza finds herself questioning everyone she has ever known, and everything she has ever thought to be true.

Second Sight is Aoife Clifford’s second novel after her bestselling debut, All These Perfect Strangers (‘gripping and compelling’ Jane Harper), and a remarkable novel it is. Set in a small country town laden with dark secrets, Second Sight has all the hallmarks of a gripping thriller – deceit, hidden truths, and a close-knit community plagued by doubt. At its crux, Second Sight begs the question: can we ever really trust anyone? Are people ever truly what they seem?

Clifford has a remarkable knack for language, writing with a visceral dexterity that is typically uncharacteristic of the genre. She captures the atmosphere of a small country town with poetic grace, every minute detail accounted for. For readers who love to be transported to a different time and place through words, this book is a picturesque getaway.

Second Sight is narrated through two different time-lines – Eliza’s past and present – and while this can sometimes be confusing in other books, Clifford never drops the ball, with the shifting perspectives remaining crystal clear throughout the entire novel.

Clifford’s characters are another detail that make the book such a joy to read. They lack the exaggerated and unrealistic character traits often encountered in the thriller genre. Rather, they are true and raw, stripped bare. Eliza in particular is a captivating female protagonist, strong, intelligent, and unafraid. It is empowering and refreshing to read a woman writing a strong, female lead.

Second Sight is a fiery and thrilling read by one of Australia’s most talented crime writers and we can’t recommend it enough.

About the Author:

Aoife is the author of Second Sight published in Australia in July 2018 and the United States in 2019. Her first novel was the bestseller, All These Perfect Strangers. 

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