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Topical, Gripping, Perfectly Paced: Review of The Rip by Mark Brandi

July 10, 2019

“It’s funny how quick it happens and without you really noticing. Anton said once that it’s like walking out into the sea, and you think everything’s fine and the water’s warm, but when you turn back you’re suddenly miles from shore. I’ve never been much of a swimmer, but I get what he means. Like, being caught in a current or something. A rip.”

Dani has had a rough life. Her mother died when she was young, and her childhood and adolescence were a blur of bleak foster homes and uncaring foster families. Now Dani lives on the streets of Melbourne with her best friend, Anton, and her beloved bull terrier, Sunny. Anton looks out for Dani and has never tried anything on her, and although they both have their vices—Dani can’t go long without a heroin fix and Anton is hooked on painkillers—they’re a tight-knit team, and they do what they need to do to survive.

But things begin to change when Dani and Anton meet a man named Steve at the local Salvos one day. As it turns out, Steve is someone Anton knows from prison, and he invites Dani and Anton to crash at his flat for a while. Dani quite liked when it was just her and Anton and Sunny, but Anton is always talking about them getting a flat of their own, and he seems keen on staying at Steve’s. This could be a practice run for their own flat, somewhere down the line.

So Dani, Anton and Sunny move in, but there’s something off about Steve. Dani can’t quite put her finger on it, but he makes her uncomfortable. The flat has a odd chemical smell too, and Steve always keeps his bedroom door locked. They soon discover that the flat doesn’t even belong to him—it belongs to someone named Mary. But where is she? Then Anton begins to drift away from Dani, and gets involved in some heavy stuff with Steve. Dani knows this doesn’t feel good, doesn’t feel right—but sometimes you don’t know you’re in too deep until you’re drowning.

From bestselling author Mark Brandi, The Rip is a slow-burning, utterly riveting story about a young woman caught in a deadly situation. Brandi’s 2017 debut, Wimmera, was an outstanding crime drama, and The Rip cements his status as one of the finest Australian crime writers working today. Brandi has a real talent for crafting compelling, realistic characters, and Dani and Anton practically jump off the page. Dani is feisty and fearless, Anton optimistic and kind, and you’ll come to care deeply for both them, and find yourself desperately willing them to get out before it’s too late.

Tackling tough themes including homelessness, drug abuse and underground sex work, The Rip is a confronting read, but there’s light in this story, too, and the little family that Dani and Anton create is a real highlight. Brandi’s writing must be mentioned as well. Written in tight, pared-back prose, every word of this story hits home, and as the plot moves forward with growing menace and suspense, you’ll feel the full impact of Brandi’s masterful storytelling.

Propelled forward by beautifully drawn characters and the slow unravelling of a horrific crime, The Rip is one of the year’s best urban crime stories. Topical, gripping and perfectly paced, you won’t be able to put it down.

About the author:

Mark Brandi’s bestselling novel, Wimmera, won the coveted British Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and was named Best Debut at the 2018 Australian Indie Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year. His second novel, The Rip, was published to critical acclaim by Hachette Australia in March 2019.

Mark’s shorter work has appeared in The GuardianThe Age, the Big Issue, and in journals both here and overseas. His writing is also sometimes heard on ABC Radio National.

Mark graduated with a criminal justice degree and worked extensively in the justice system, before changing direction and deciding to write. Originally from Italy, he grew up in rural Victoria. Mark now lives in Melbourne and is working on his next work of fiction.

Buy a copy of The Rip here

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