Erin Sloane was sixteen when high school senior Andre Villiers was murdered by his friends. They were her friends, too, led by the intense, charismatic Ricky Hell. Five people went into West Cypress Road Woods the night Andre was murdered. Only three came out.
Ativan, alcohol, and distance has dimmed Erin’s memories of that time. But nearly twenty years later, an ageing father will bring her home. Now a journalist, she is asked to write a story about the Southport Three and the thrill-kill murder that mesmerised the country. Erin’s investigation propels her closer and closer to a terrifying truth. And closer and closer to danger.
Ruth McIver is a Dublin-born Melbourne-based writer whose first novel, Nothing Gold, was runner up in the inaugural 2018 Banjo Prize. Her latest novel, I Shot the Devil, won the 2018 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, and it’s easy to see why. Moving from Long Island to Florida, I Shot the Devil is an unforgettable story of murder, trauma and childhoods lost from an electrifying new talent in Australian crime fiction.
The novel is predominately set in Southport, Long Island, and follows journalist Erin Sloane – or Eerie Erin as she was known by her ‘Satanist’ friends – as she attempts to uncover the truth of what happened that night sixteen years ago. Erin is a flawed protagonist who exists on a diet of benzos and booze to cope with past trauma, for which she carries both physical and emotional scars. She is, as her editor puts it, the ‘ex metalhead misfit who made it out of Southport to tell the tale.’ And that’s exactly what she sets out to do here as she unspools a complex web of lies and intrigue, which goes far beyond ritualistic sacrifice and satanism.
This is an intense and unnerving read that doesn’t shy away from confronting themes, such as abuse and the weight of trauma. It’s also incredibly well-paced, and McIver holds the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go as she slowly peels back the layers of this gritty mystery, leading to an explosive and unpredictable end.
Dark, twisty and dangerously addictive, I Shot the Devil is an irresistible thriller from McIver that will keep readers on edge from beginning to end. Fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Alex Marwood will devour this.