A compulsively gripping lockdown thriller by the bestselling author of The One Who Got Away.
On the eve of the global lockdown, Don Barlow opens the door of his old beachside cottage to find a pretty girl with pink-tipped hair, claiming to be his granddaughter. She needs help and has nowhere else to go.
He welcomes her in, and so begins a mystery set in unprecedented times: with the virus raging outside their home, the girl cannot be asked to leave, but what does he risk by having her stay?
As Don and the girl start to forge a bond, Don’s adult daughter has her own suspicions about what the newcomer is after. But, unable to travel, how can she protect Don and discover if the girl really is who she claims to be?
Caroline Overington is one of Australia’s most successful writers and journalists, and the current Literary Editor for The Australian. Her 2016 novel The One Who Got Away was a runaway bestseller, and a Better Reading favourite. Her most recent work was the true crime story, Missing William Tyrrell. Now Overington returns to fiction with her gripping new thriller The Cuckoos Cry.
Bondi resident Don Barlow is a few weeks shy of seventy when Morgan knocks on his door, asking for help. She is, supposedly, his granddaughter – the daughter of the son Don gave up for adoption while he was still in his teens. He has no reason not to believe her. She talks about her father, Paul, and the letter Don sent him through ‘the department’ to see if he was interested in making contact. Paul wasn’t, but Morgan was, so she kept the letter.
Don invites her in and puts her up in a spare bedroom. It’s immediately apparent Don would do this for anyone who knocks on his door asking for help. But there’s an added layer of excitement here for Don, at the thought of having another grandchild. He’s a nice man, which only makes this story all the more gripping.
Overington wrote this as an Audible original, released mid-2020, as the pandemic first unfolded. To say she had her finger on the pulse is an understatement – The Cuckoo’s Cry might be one of the first novels set during Covid. When Morgan knocks on Don’s door, she’s just lost her job as the virus starts to make an impact in Australia. Soon after, people are being told to stay at home, so it’s obvious Morgan will be staying. We all know how the pandemic unfolded, and we’re still living it. Yet the characters have no idea what’s in store for them. This gives the novel a claustrophobic atmosphere, with this small-scale, character-driven story feeling much more urgent amid the growing unease of Covid.
You won’t put The Cuckoo’s Cry down. It’s an addictive, read-in-one-sitting book with some surprisingly tender moments, a compelling relationship between the two main protagonists, and an unexpected twist at the end.