Kathrine Firkin’s Impressive Debut, Sticks and Stones, is One Hellova Read

Kathrine Firkin’s Impressive Debut, Sticks and Stones, is One Hellova Read

‘He didn’t have to be normal, the boy realised. He just had to pretend.’

We open with Cindy Corban dropping her son, Nicholas, off at school before heading back into the workforce for the first time since he was born. It’s a Melbourne winter, and she’s missing the warmth of the Gold Coast in Queensland, where she’s from. Reading this and hating the winter chill myself, I’m already hooked.

Cindy’s husband, Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk. So when Natale Gibson goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for – the woman’s husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched.

But things aren’t all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets – none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding.

Just as the net seems to be tightening, the investigation is turned on its head. The body of a woman is found… then another. What had seemed like a standard missing person’s case has turned into a frightening hunt for a serial killer, and time is running out.

But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to delve back through decades of neglect – back to a squalid inner-city flat, where a young boy is left huddling over his mother’s body…

This is Katherine Firkin’s debut novel, but her experience as a journalist shines through in both the polished writing, and her history covering criminal cases. There’s a lot of hype around Sticks and Stones – I’ve lost count of the people who have mentioned it to me. So why is it so popular? There are some great crime writers out there. Does this live up to the hype?

It does, and more. Many great crime writers start solidly and build their career. Katherine Firkin is unusual in that she has hit the genre out of the ballpark in her debut novel. This is impressive and very polished. And very disturbing.

Multiple perspectives are expertly wound together, towards an unpredictable end – at least I didn’t predict it, and I read a lot of crime – including flashbacks to the killer as a child. Here the author weaves in themes around child neglect, drug addiction, failures of the system and the foster system.

I liked Emmett and his wife Cindy – both characters are compelling and I hope to see more of them in future books. I found it difficult to put Sticks and Stones down and read it in two sittings. It’s a gripping read, and definitely lives up to the hype.

Reviews

Sticks and Stones was Largely Influenced by my Work: Q&A with Katherine Firkin

Review | Author Related

20 July 2020

Sticks and Stones was Largely Influenced by my Work: Q&A with Katherine Firkin

    Take a Sneak Peek at Katherine Firkin's Gripping Debut, Sticks and Stones

    Review | Extract

    20 July 2020

    Take a Sneak Peek at Katherine Firkin's Gripping Debut, Sticks and Stones

      Synopsis

      It's winter in Melbourne and Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk.So when Natale Gibson goes missing, he's convinced this is the big case he's been waiting for - the woman's husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched.But things aren't all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets - none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding.Just as the net seems to be tightening, the investigation is turned on its head. The body of a woman is found . . . then another.What had seemed like a standard missing person's case has turned into a frightening hunt for a serial killer, and time is running out.But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to delve back through decades of neglect - back to a squalid inner-city flat, where a young boy is left huddling over his mother's body . . .
      Katherine Firkin
      About the author

      Katherine Firkin

      Katherine Firkin is a Melbourne journalist, currently with CBS New York.She has over a decade of experience and has worked across every medium – print, online, television and radio.Katherine began her career at the Herald Sun newspaper (News Corp), where she specialised in sports reporting (winning an AFL Media award in 2008), before moving to breaking news, including crime and court reporting. During this time, she covered some of Victoria’s most notorious criminal affairs, including the death and funeral of underworld figure Carl Williams.She has also worked for Seven West Media (7 News, 7 Sport), 3AW Radio, the Nine Network's Today show, and Network Ten, and has been a regular international correspondent for multiple global outlets.Katherine has been writing fiction from a young age, and she studied literature and journalism at university. Her debut novel is inspired by the many criminal trials she has covered.

      Books by Katherine Firkin

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      1. Esther says:

        Great read! A real page turner – everything crime should be. I hope we hear more of Emmet!