A scintillating crime thriller, set in the South Australian outback town of Cutters End. A mysterious death on New Year’s Eve 1989 leads to a shocking murder investigation 32 years later . . .
New Year’s Eve, 1989. Eighteen-year-old Ingrid Mathers is hitchhiking her way to Alice Springs. Bored, hungover and separated from her friend Joanne, she accepts a lift to the remote town of Cutters End.
July 2021. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is seconded to a recently reopened case, one in which he has a personal connection. Three decades ago, a burnt and broken body was discovered in scrub off the Stuart Highway, 300km south of Cutters End. Though ultimately ruled an accidental death, many people – including a high-profile celebrity – are convinced it was murder.
When Mark’s interviews with the witnesses in the old case files go nowhere, he has no choice but to make the long journey up the highway to Cutters End.
And with the help of local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur, he soon learns that this death isn’t the only unsolved case that hangs over the town…
Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:
Cutters End is a really enjoyable cold case murder mystery full of intrigue and suspense. The story captivated me from the start with some unexpected twists and turns in the plot. The hot dry landscape became another character in the story evoking a feeling of unease and danger. In the town of Cutters End there was a sense of isolation and of a community relying on each other to survive but also of secrets that had been kept safe for 30 years. With switches between the present and the past, the story unfolds as we are led to the ultimate conclusion. I found it really hard to put the book down as I wanted to know what happened next. I look forward with anticipation to Margaret Hickey’s next crime novel. Denise, TAS, 5 Stars
This book was an exciting page turner which was written in two time lines. The answers to a 30 year old mystery were gradually revealed as connections between the main characters were explored. The story kept me intrigued all the way to the end. I couldn’t put it down. Kim, NSW, 5 Stars
Loved this book, read it really quickly as it was an easy read but also a “can’t put it down” book. Lots of twists and turns I really look forward to more from Margaret Hickey, she writes well and has that ability to capture your thoughts and take you into the story. So good 😊. Kate, QLD, 5 Stars
It’s been a while since I’ve had a book that’s grabbed me as quickly as Cutters End, I was intrigued by the third page and completely hooked at page 11. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is brought back from long service leave to reopen a cold case from 1989, after his personal connection is discovered by his superior officer. A burnt body found by the side of the road – was it an accident as first thought or a sadistic murder? I really can’t say too much about the plotline to avoid spoilers, but I can say that Margaret Hickey has written an excellent story, with characters that are extremely well developed and believable dialogue, bringing the desert highways and outback town of Cutters End to life. The reveal makes sense, without the theatrics that some mysteries rely on and I had a sense of satisfaction when I turned the last page. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can’t wait to read more of her work! Thank you so much to Better Reading and Penguin for my Advanced Reader’s Copy and of course Margaret Hickey for a fantastic book. Juanita, NSW, 5 Stars
I didn’t quite know what to expect from this book but let me tell you I couldn’t put it down. Right from the start I was hooked and wanted to know how it was going to end. I would highly recommend this book to all readers. Claire, VIC, 5 Stars
The book had a very good lead in from the start. Characters were believable and made easy reading throughout the novel. There were enough twists throughout the novel to make the ending unpredictable and kept me reading to the end. I personally enjoyed the story line and it had a good Australian feel. To finalise it is a book I would buy. Louise, NSW, 5 Stars
Another brilliant addition to Australian Noir, Cutters End by Margaret Hickey will appeal to lovers of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer. The plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. At no point did I guess the ending, if fact my assumption was wrong. The detail used to describe the landscape and the towns and specificity the people had me immersed. I could feel the hot, sand flinging air in my face. I could picture the banter of the police station and could see that the bickering hide a devotion between characters from very different walks of life. Quietly hoping I have not seen the last of Detective Inspector Ariti. Know the underlying message of this book will stay with my and have me questioning the meaning of justice. Carol, VIC, 5 Stars
I was fortunate to be able to preview Margaret Hickey’s novel, Cutters End. I love a good crime fiction novel, and this one does not disappoint in any way. The main character, Mark Ariti, is an almost jaded detective just on 50…who is seconded from his LSL to re-look at a cold case from thirty years ago in outback South Australia. Hickey creates a very credible character in Mark, whose marriage is in trouble, and who is struggling with getting old. The inhospitable landscape along the Sturt Highway provides a sinister background to a possible murder/murders. I enjoyed the many layers to solving these crimes…flashbacks in particular. And I appreciated the discussion on justice throughout. Highly recommended. Denise, NSW, 5 Stars
City living versus country living weaves its magic through this mystery cold case. A country bred policeman returns to his hometown to investigate a crime which occurred many years previously. You can taste the red dust and feel the dryness of outback, Cutters End, due to the vivid description from the author. As the evidence is gathered slowly throughout the story, the reader never quite guesses where the clues will lead. Country towns hold onto their secrets and behind closed doors lurk lies and deception. A thoroughly enjoyable “who done it” and I would highly recommend this exciting author. Shelley, NSW, 5 Stars
A wicked crime thriller at its best!!! A brilliant murder investigation of a mysterious death in Cutters End. 32 year’s later, Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti, re-open’s the case, which was proclaimed an accidental death, because the town’s people are convinced it was a murder…. Exciting plots! Wicked Characters! What a brilliant author is Margaret Hickey, I give this full stars… A must read full of Wonder… Noeleen, WA, 5 Stars
Margaret Hickey congratulations on writing this great crime fiction novel, excellent book from the start to finish could not put this book down, the remote South Australian outback town Cutters End a lot of hitchhikers have disappeared, it all comes together when DS Mark Ariti is sent to investigate a cold case murder from 32 years ago (no spoilers). This is a great Australian book. Gavin, NSW, 5 Stars
When a television celebrity raises the profile of what was ruled an accidental death more than thirty years earlier, Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is taken off involuntary long service leave and sent to the remote outback town of Cutters End, off the Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs, to go over the original investigation and look for any elements that might point to murder. I was drawn into Cutters End immediately. Heat and dust infuse every page, and the loneliness and insularity of the outback roadhouse and the small town of Cutters End (large enough to have 3 pubs) are clearly brought to life. The storyline moves skilfully between 1989 and the present, and kept me guessing whodunnit until I was near the end. The contrasts between outback and city, and past and present, attitudes and standards are an interesting undercurrent to the plot. This novel is an engrossing read, and I look forward to any sequels that might occur. Recommended. Kim, VIC, 4 Stars
Cutters End is author Margaret Hickey’s crime fiction debut. Remote Australian isolated small town setting provides the ideal location for a crime fiction novel. Cutters End follows the storyline of Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti and local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur as they reinvestigate an unsolved cold case murder from the 1990’s. Hickey’s transition between the dual timelines and multi POV chapters were seamless and made for an enjoyable easy read. I found this book to be very addictive and difficult to put down as I was interested to discover how the different plots would seam together. Thank you Better Reading and Penguin Random House Australia for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. Jacinda, NSW, 4 Stars
Australian debut crime thriller Cutters End by Margaret Hickey. Fast paced investigation of a cold case murder, set in outback South Australia – unpredictable plot full of twists. A hitchhiker goes missing on New Year’s Eve. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is seconded to reopen a cold case involving contacts from his youth. As the story unfolds we learn decisions and actions 30 years ago impact the present. The sense of place was beautiful, lots of contemporary Australian references; I would definitely read more thrillers by Hickey. Krystine, VIC, 4 Stars
I enjoyed this rural thriller that switched between a present day police investigation and an old unsolved murder. The characters were interesting and very human in their behaviour. Cutters End was a tough place and the collection of people living there seemed believable and realistic. I didn’t see the twists coming and I’m going to recommend it to friends. Julie, NSW, 4 Stars
Cutters End by Margaret Hickey is well – written, with slow but clever build up to the answer to a cold case, set in the Australian Bush. The main character, though far from a “perfect” cop, husband and father, is nevertheless very likeable and the reader is drawn in, following him on the cold but not frozen trail of a crime committed thirty or so years ago. It makes the reader consider the meaning of justice versus the law and how is justice truly served. It also captures the attitude difference between the average city Australian and the more pragmatic country town Aussie. It’s a great read and not just “another crime novel” . I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to preview this novel. Marnie, NSW, 4 Stars
I enjoyed the story being told from the past and present to bring the storyline together, telling the story from different characters also gives a more rounded view of each character. It was a great story that kept me up at night trying to guess the ending. C, TAS, 4 Stars
Does unwriting a past wrong really amend a future? Why does our past often pop up to surprise us later in life when we least expect it? A cleverly composed adaption of these things, that had me pointing fingers at everyone, including the police. May people rest easy now in Cutters end. Maryanne, NSW, 4 Stars
This book had me intrigued from the start being set in my home state South Australia. Cutters End was the first book I’ve read in a while to be so unpredictable, it was more realistic in terms of relationships and friendships and life. It was a great read and had me wanting more. The ending could have been a little better but I still loved the outcome of the book. Madison, SA, 4 Stars
From the beginning this book transports the reader to the hot, dusty isolation of the Australian outback. It is a story that moves between multiple timeframes and locations, with a strong sense of place that adds to the tension of the plot. The story successfully intertwines the investigation of unsolved crime with the characters’ back stories which creates a compelling read. There are plenty of plot twists to keep readers guessing. Holly, WA, 4 Stars
Cutters End is a cracking mystery with a very Australian feel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Had me guessing to the end, but without the plot twists that end up hurting your brain! Looking forward to more Aussie crime from Margaret Hickey. Rachel, QLD, 4 Stars
I don’t read many “whodunnit” style books but having finished Cutters End by Margaret Hickey I’ve decided I need to read a few more. The story revolves around a middle-aged policeman who must investigate an incident that had been classed as an accident 3 or 4 decades previously. The book is written in very easy-going language which carried me along effortlessly, I barely even knew I was reading. I was intrigued at the beginning, and as soon as I thought my questions were answered many more questions popped up. I felt the characters were well developed, we get a good insight into who most of them are and the events in their lives that have shaped them. I found the last quarter of the book did start to lag and there were a couple of references that didn’t really work, but overall I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good crime novel. Aidan, NSW, 4 Stars
Cutters End doesn’t sound like a tourist destination. Late 80’s early 90’s when hitch hiking was the vogue, … what could go wrong? A fading celeb reignites an investigation from 30 years ago. Who would have thought the Pandoras box of missing would be opened. A reinstated detective with a personal connection to witnesses in the case, but what is their involvement. More than was expected. This is an easy read, light and a little predictable. Kerrie, NSW, 3 Stars
Cutters End began well. The prologue and the first chapter were intriguing with a real sense of menace and suspense. The jump to the present and the drawn out cold case investigation tended to lag for me. The big reveal at the end was a welcome surprise. Mary, QLD, 3 Stars
I have been enjoying Australian crime fiction lately (and not surprised to hear many others have too, they are a welcome escape during the pandemic). So I was excited to receive this book via @betterreadingau Preview. A rural setting, an unsolved crime, a likeable but flawed and weary investigator, all the makings of a good crime book but although it has the potential, Cutters End doesn’t quite get there. The characters are intriguing, the dialogue is excellent and very realistic but the story lacks the urgency to keep turning the page. I felt as though it had been written too quickly, descriptions glossed over, elements needing developing (I was also annoyed that scenes set in 1994 referred to selfies, podcasts and Euros, none of which were around then). For a light escape, it’s worth a go and is an easy read, but I didn’t find it as gripping as a Chris Hammer, Jane Harper or Candice Fox. Dominique, VIC, 2 Stars