Your Preview Verdict: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

Your Preview Verdict: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she’d requested a transfer to the quiet town she’d grown up in.

But there are some things you can’t run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn’t believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real – and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

What a fantastic read – I couldn’t put it down! ‘The Unbelieved’ follows detective Antigone Pollard after she moves from the city to the quiet coastal town where she grew up. Things have not gone well for Antigone, personally and professionally and she needs some time to recover. However, Deception Bay is not as quiet as she hoped and soon, she is hunting a rapist, investigating a cold case murder and dealing with the ingrained misogyny from people in authority. The novel is gripping from the beginning and deals with many issues that are very relevant today. Antigone is the perfect detective character with a well-balanced mix of determination and sensitivity. Her dog Waffles is amazing and almost steals the show from the other characters. The setting also is an integral part of the story and Vikki Petraitis’ well-crafted descriptions made me feel like I was on a windswept cliff in Deception Bay. I really enjoyed this book and the themes and characters stayed in my thoughts long after I had finished reading. Debbie, NSW, 5 Stars

The subject matter in this book had me intrigued from the beginning. It’s not an easy subject to write about, and wouldn’t be enjoyed by everyone. I however, thought the book was very well written, considerate and a timely reminder of the world we live in and the challenges that still confront those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. The premise of the book is a female detective who following a devastating case in the city, re-locates to her childhood rural community, hoping for a fresh start and less trauma. Sadly the issues of the big city follow back with her to the country. The book was sensitively written, and I enjoyed seeing the relationships develop within the main cast of characters. The dog Waffles added another enjoyable element. While this book is a work of fiction, the challenges that Detective Pollard and the rest of the team investigate, are not, and I enjoyed the realistic storytelling throughout the story, without it ever feeling overbearing. I had not anticipated the ending of the book, and enjoyed it wrapping up any last unanswered questions. I would highly recommend this book. Kelly, VIC, 5 Stars

This book was a ripper! I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. This book follows Detective Antigone Pollard, as she leaves Melbourne and returns to her childhood home of Deception Bay. Although this is fiction, unfortunately the topics are all too common and realistic. Detective Pollard is investigating sexual attacks in the area, however most witnesses and even her senior male boss are being uncooperative. Antigone passionately tries to investigate these cases while also teaching the local women how to defend themselves. While doing this she realises how many women are also suffering domestic violence. There is actually more than one mystery that needs solving in this book and I couldn’t wait to see how each unfolded. I loved the style of writing and although the type of crimes are awful, I loved the touches of humour the writer used. There are also some heartwarming characters (Antigone’s partner “Wazza” was a favourite of mine) and moving uplifting moments. Antigone is the true hero of the novel, I loved her character and would love to see her in a follow up novel. Thank you Better Reading and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to preview this book. Kim, VIC, 5 Stars

Loved this from start to finish. Great story and characters. A strong nod to the ‘me too’ movement. Can’t believe this is a debut novel. Great work and can’t wait for the next book. Janette, TAS, 5 Stars

It’s strange to start a glowing review by saying the book in question made me feel uncomfortable, but that’s what The Unbelieved did to me. I felt so many things while reading this new entry into the crime fiction market — I shifted in disbelief, held my breath in anticipation, raged at the injustice and muttered at the blatant sexism, all which speaks volumes for Petraitis’ ability as a writer. A tense and gripping crime story, The Unbelieved takes us into a claustrophobic rural town setting and continues to raise the tension with horrific assaults, corruption, secrets and a gritty female detective who refuses to stop fighting the endless roadblocks in her way. A welcome rallying cry for women’s rights in this timely debut. Leearna, VIC, 5 Stars

What a great book!! I could not put this down. Set in a coastal town in Victoria, the main character is a female Senior Detective recently relocated to the area. She becomes involved in the investigation of drink spiking/rape cases that are happening. The characters are very relatable, the experiences really make you question how the Justice system works when its her word against his. A cold case also comes into the story creating more mystery in the town. Something else I wanted answers to. A real page turner, I would highly recommend. Vikkie, QLD, 5 Stars

After a case in Melbourne goes horribly wrong, Senior Detective Antigone Pollard seeks a transfer to her hometown of Deception Bay. Within a month of her return to her hometown she is targeted by a rapist. She soon realises there haven’t been any convictions following a spate of similar attacks. Hers is the first reported case, but soon more reports follow. While Antigone and her partner, Detective Senior Constable Warren Harvey, investigate, they encounter a wall of silence built on secrets, denial and fear. I enjoyed reading this book despite the fact that in today’s enlightened society, it seems that in some instances, women are still treated like commodities, to be mistreated and shown little if any respect, simply to satisfy men. Carolyn, WA, 5 Stars

‘The Unbelieved’ by Vikki Petraitis felt a little sur-real, Senior Detective Antigone Pollard looking to escape a rape case gone wrong, and relationship issues moves from Melbourne to Deception Bay (we’ve a Deception Bay just north of Brisbane). A chance to spend time with her grandmother and Waffles the German Shepard. A drink at the local pub she is targeted by a would-be rapist, bullied. Becoming a victim, she became frightingly aware of the plight of other rape cases she’d investigated – no one believes me, even her boss doubts her. Like the story from Australia of the year Grace Tame, A must read showing the strength and courage of women standing up to fight the flaws in society the justice system. Robert, QLD, 5 Stars

Vikki Petraitis’ novel ‘The Unbelieved’ made me question myself. How many times have I read a headline, heard a story or comment and questioned a victim of assault? Have I ever really considered the impact on a victim who is not believed? When did a woman’s words stop being enough in the eyes of the law? It was a heart-jolting moment. ‘The Unbelieved’ was an interesting, fast paced novel I simply could not put down. The main character, Antigone Pollard was strong, sassy and likable. I could clearly picture each character as they were carefully woven into the story and their place in the community of Deception Bay. The honest and believable dialogue between characters had me laughing out loud or frowning with dismay. ‘The Records of Interviews’ scattered throughout the book added an interesting element. What where the characters saying when they were ‘on the record’? What was their take on events? The inclusion of these snippets had me hooked! When reading this book, time flew! When not reading it, it was in my thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Unbelieved’ and would recommend it to others. Livvy, NT, 5 Stars

The Unbelieved – a gripping tale set in a small coastal Australian town that had me hooked from the Prologue. I could not read this book quick enough. Detective Antigone Pollard returns from the city to the town where she spent her childhood, hoping to escape her demons from her police work in the city, only to be caught up again in a case similar to what she was hoping to leave behind. Sadly this book reflects on so many cases that we see on the news everyday with victims having to prove their truth while the perpetrators are presumed innocent. Leigh, WA, 5 Stars

Vikki Petraitis has written an amazing first novel. A small coastal town is the backdrop for The Unbelieved. The girls and women of Deception Bay are ‘the unbelieved’, the victims of several men in town, who practise the entrenched misoginy and sexism that perpetuates abuse and fear. I must note that the sickening entitlement and criminal behaviour demonstrated by these men, may be triggering for some readers. This fast-paced story will thrill and chill, while Detective Antigone Pollard strives to break the silence and convict the attackers. I enjoyed it! Cheryl, NSW, 5 Stars

I found that I enjoyed this book a lot, and give particular credit to the author for weaving a compelling story despite doing some of things I don’t like in crime fiction. I don’t like implausible and unnatural dialogue and cliched (particularly misogynistic) characters. It has these elements, but the quality of the storytelling and skilful interweaving of plotlines rises above my pet hates. And some serious WOW moments at the end are truly great. I also want Waffles. Ian, ACT, 5 Stars

The Unbelieved is about Senior Detective Antigone moving from Melbourne to Deception Bay where she becomes a victim of an attempted rape and how following up her perpetrator uncovers a whole lot of secrets in the town. Loved how the character Antigone is ruthless and a go-getter of the truth. Hated how the justice system failed its victims. I’m not particularly into crime stories, however, this book had me so hooked, I read it in one sitting. It’s shocking, it’s funny and it’s liberating all in one. Very well written by the author. A must read. Lucy, SA, 5 Stars

The Unbelieved is a story of secrets, strong women and weak men. Set in the fictional town of Deception Bay there is a spate of drink spiking and sexual assaults but noone believes any of the victims. The lead character in the story is Senior Detective Antigone Pollard who almost becomes a victim herself. Antigone is a strong character who doesn’t take any crap and in most cases doesn’t fall into the trap of being polite rather than saying how she feels. The story is very well written and draws you into the emotions of the victims. I found myself so angry on their behalf for the way they are treated and the general disrespect of the women in the town. Unfortunately it’s too relatable to the world we live in. Reading the final chapters was very satisfying and I liked the way things were answered and uncovered. Sarah, VIC, 5 Stars

Growing up in a small community, the characters in The Unbelieved are so true to life. Senior Detective Pollard has to earn the respect of the community before men and women are willing to help her in her investigations. What she uncovers and the end results convinced me that this book should be turned into a mini-series. It is a story that should be discussed with not only teenagers but olders persons as well. Cheryl, VIC, 5 Stars

I hope The Unbelieved will be the first book of a series. I read this book in two sittings, I was hooked from the first paragraph. Antigone Pollard is the most relatable heroine I have encountered in a long time. The love she has for her retired police dog is palpable. The story is compelling and believable, it will reel you in, and leave you wanting more. I want to hear more about the men and women living in Deception Bay after the denouement. And I certainly want to know more about Antigone and her canine companion. Lyn, SA, 5 Stars

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis is a novel that covers topics that are very relevant in society today. Sexual assault and domestic violence are rife in the small town of Deception Bay and being a small town, everyone knows something but no-one talks. Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves back here after a case goes horribly wrong. Instead of the peace she is looking for, she personally becomes involved when a rapist tries to attack her. She soon discovers that the town is not supporting the victims. There were three different crimes in this story – the main one plus two from the past, whose relevance we discover as the story evolves. What I liked was the storylines were easy to follow and would not confuse a reader. The author’s writing style made me feel like I was there. The crimes were realistic and heartbreaking. These are the stories we read about every day and discuss our opinions with others. I highly recommend this book, especially to readers who like a crime story that keeps you guessing to the end. Theresa, NSW, 5 Stars

I loved this book. So much. I was hooked from the first chapter. The main character Antigone is strong willed & has qualities we all aspire to have, there’s a cute, loyal dog and there’s no messing around with the twists & turns that kept me guessing the entire time! I loved the way the female characters in The Unbelieved are strong, witty & brave. The book & its overall theme felt modern, powerful & honestly i wanted more – this would make a killer TV series. Bravo! Bianca, NSW, 5 Stars

After a much-publicised case has gone disastrously wrong, Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves from Melbourne back to the coastal town of Deception Bay. It’s a welcome return to where she grew up, to people she knows and to the local police station, 60 years old but comfortable. But soon Antigone realises that even in small communities there are secrets, denials and nightmares. A drink in the local pub reminds her of what life had been like, but also how it could collapse in an instant. True-crime author and podcaster Vikki Petraitis crafts a gripping story about Antigone, her dog Waffles and her fight for justice for the victims she meets. It’s a compelling, utterly believable read which shines a much-needed light on an issue brought so urgently to public attention recently by advocates such as Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins. Don, SA, 5 Stars

Antigone Pollard is my new idol, someone I would look up to and want to be friends with in the real world. Senior Detective Antigone Pollard isn’t afraid to speak up for women or confront men who treat women as inferior. She is a highly intelligent woman who is passionate about her job and seeks to help women in abusive relationships. Antigone has moved to a coastal town where she spent time with her grandmother as a child. She carries with her the weight and grief of a previous rape case she recently worked on. On arrival in the town, Antigone learns the power of men is grossly imbalanced and does all she can to bring back some equilibrium to the women in town, despite being challenged by a range of high profile male community members along the way. I was hooked right from the start and so invested in Antigone’s journey. I found myself whispering words of encouragement and support for her throughout the book, and at times, wanted to cheer out aloud for her honesty and sharp comebacks. The characters and scenery are relatable and the storyline has an essence of a Jane Harper novel. Antigone and Wozza have stayed with me long after finishing the book. This is a brilliant Australian crime novel. Priscilla, ACT, 5 Stars

Wow! I totally loved this book. It was so easy to read, and hard to put down. I have always liked to read Vikki Petraitis books and have read many of her true crime stories. She is also a very fascinating speaker so I was holding my breath on this book as I was sure it was going to be a winner. And a winner it is. Initially I was not sure what to expect with this one being fiction but it did not disappoint. My only constructive feedback is the main characters name. Not sure how to pronounce it, like Hermione in Harry Potter. But aside from that, Antigone was a strong female lead, the story was totally believable and I could imagine it was rife 30-40 years ago in Australia. Hoping less so now. Each of the characters were very well thought through and explained and they all linked up very well. Even the villains in the story! I would love to see a sequel to The Unbelieved to follow Detective Antigone Pollard in her career. Well done, one of my favourite books I have read in a while. Jodie, VIC, 5 Stars

Absolutely gripping, I could not put this book down once I started! The story is based in the small coastal town of Deception Bay and the main character, police officer Antigone Pollard, has returned to the town where she spent time as a child to try to get her life back on track after a relationship breakdown & a hard case that didn’t end well. The themes of the book are so timely & thought provoking – gender based violence & a flawed justice system which can often result in more damage to victims – and they are written about so intelligently in this book which interweaves facts into the fictional storyline. The cast of characters are really engaging especially Waffles the German Shepard and some bring a lightness to what could have the potential to be a really heavy read given the subject matter. I absolutely loved this book – by far my favourite book of 2022 to date! Lisa, QLD, 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book, the subject matter is disturbing and has you as a reader confirming that although it is so so wrong it is also so so true. The world we live in is not a perfect world and this book confirms this over and over, such a topical book with all that is going on in the media currently. This book covers the hard to read subject matter of abusive relationships, drink spiking and how hard it is for a victim of rape or sexual abuse to be heard. I liked that this wasn’t an “anti men” book, even though there was very much the good old “boys club” in the town of Deception Point that was the setting to this story, there were characters like Wozza who was a loving husband, father and supportive colleague to Senior Detective Antigone Pollard the central character to this story. Antigone’s ex Daniel who showed a good perspective of the fence sitter, supportive but still not quite getting it so to speak, making Antigone work extra hard to get hers and the victims perspectives across, there was also a scattering of woman who took the perspective of the man, the “she was asking for it” view which we so often hear. The angle of the parents of the perpetrator backing their son 110% and becoming seemingly unknowingly part of the ultimate downfall of the victim was a good lesson to read. I think this is an important book that perhaps would do well in a senior school environment as the way it is written does cover all perspectives, the reader is easily able to determine the many flaws in societies thinking, hopefully some will read it and learn some valuable lessons. Linda, VIC, 4 Stars

I have read many crime novels. This book stands out because of its main character. Antigone Pollard is a police detective and she is strong and determined to fight for justice for women whose stories are disregarded. Her lover has disappointed her and she is struggling to maintain emotional stability. She is a complex and believable person and well written. The story of the crimes and how they are solved is fast moving and complex and kept me guessing. The book addresses issues that are very important. I was slightly disappointed that the other characters were more sketchy and were too easily put into a goody box or a baddy box. But in summary a good read with a message. 4.5 stars. Leonie, NSW, 4 Stars

Author Vikki Petraitis has an extensive background in true crime, which is reflected throughout this compelling novel. Senior Detective Antigone Pollard returns from Melbourne to the small coastal town of Deception Bay, after a recent case spins disastrously out of control. Deception Bay may be small but it’s got problems and before long Antigone is deep in investigating multiple druggings and sexual assaults. And a murder suicide that starts to reek of police incompetence… or worse. Her investigations rankle plenty of townfolk, including her male boss and the towns’s mayor, and threats of violence are dismissed by her boss as misunderstandings. Petraitis has given us a raft of well-drawn and believable characters – gutsy, no-nonsense Antigone is particularly likable – and the novel’s themes are, unfortunately, far too believable. Her writing has a casual grace; place, action and dialogue all work well together to produce a thought-provoking and timely novel, which was engaging from the get-go. Recommended. Rod, ACT, 4 Stars

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis is a compelling read. For this reader it took 2 days. It’s topical, it’s on trend, it’s quintessential Australian crime fiction. I suspect it will be devoured by a largely sub-40 year old female reader, it will resonate with the 20-30 year olds. I enjoyed the storyline although it was a bit preachy/citing of violence against female facts at times. Still, I’d recommend it. Thanks for the opportunity. Gillian, WA, 4 Stars

A disturbing thriller, that unfortunately is “believable”. Vikki Petraitis tells the story of Senior Detective Antigone Pollard. Detective Pollard was working a rape victim case in Melbourne that became too close to her heart. When the case was wrapped up, and escape from the tragedy and shock that this case held over her, Detective Pollard moved to the small town she had grown up in, to stay in her grandmother’s farm house. Not long after Detective Pollard has moved in, things go from bad to worse in this small town, where everybody knows each other, and secrets are kept. As Detective Pollard’s investigations continue, she becomes a target herself. She is being threatened by her boss, is threatened at her home, and is labelled as a liar by the Mayor and others in authority in the town. Even with her back against the wall. Kylie, NSW, 4 Stars

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis is a story that presents issues that are so current. Issues It’s a compelling story of mystery and crime slowly unraveling to the finish. Antigone pollard’s character is fearless, gutsy and spirited. An inspiring role model to the women within her community in her fight for justice and equality. A thoroughly great read and one I did not want to put down. Matilda, QLD, 4 Stars


Must Read Crime Fiction: Read an Extract of The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

Review | Extract

4 August 2022

Must Read Crime Fiction: Read an Extract of The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

    Triumphant Debut Crime: Read Our Review of The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

    Review | Our Review

    3 August 2022

    Triumphant Debut Crime: Read Our Review of The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

      Publisher details

      The Unbelieved
      Vikki Petraitis
      Allen & Unwin
      02 August, 2022


      When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she'd requested a transfer to the quiet town she'd grown up in.

      But there are some things you can't run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn't believe her.

      Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

      Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real - and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

      Vikki Petraitis
      About the author

      Vikki Petraitis

      Vikki Petraitis is best known for her true crime books including the bestselling book The Frankston Murders about serial killer Paul Denyer, and her first book, The Phillip Island Murder, which has been featured in several TV shows and podcasts. In her true crime books, Vikki has covered everything from police dogs to Lawyer X, the Russell Street bombing and sex crimes. Her expertise lies in interviewing police and victims to create compelling narratives. In recent years, Vikki has made two hugely successful podcast series with Casefile Presents, which have topped charts around the world and been downloaded millions of times. She is now working with the Casefile team developing new true crime projects. Vikki began a PhD in Creative Writing at La Trobe University in 2017 in order to continue to expand her writing skills. She brought thirty years of true crime writing and investigating to create her first work of fiction, The Unbelieved. In a parallel career, Vikki is also a teacher with a Master's degree in IT Education. She runs creative writing workshops and short courses in schools and local libraries. She is also a popular presenter, well-known for her compelling true crime talks and keynote addresses.

      Books by Vikki Petraitis


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