Your Preview Verdict: WAKE by Shelley Burr

Your Preview Verdict: WAKE by Shelley Burr

A searing debut crime novel where the grief and guilt surrounding an unsolved disappearance still haunt a small farming community . . . and will ultimately lead to a reckoning.

Evelyn simply vanished.

The small town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of New South Wales. Once a thriving outback centre, years of punishing drought have whittled it down to no more than a couple of pubs and a police station. And its one sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago from the bedroom she shared with her twin sister.

Mina McCreery’s life has been defined by the intense and ongoing public interest in her sister’s case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family’s sunbaked destocked sheep farm. The million-dollar reward her mother established to solve the disappearance has never been paid out.

Enter Lane Holland, a private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Lane has his eye on the unclaimed money, but he also has darker motivations for wanting to solve the case.

Compulsively readable, with an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, WAKE is a powerful, unsparing story of how trauma ripples outward when people’s private tragedies become public property, and how it’s never too late for the truth to set things right.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

What a wonderful debut crime novel. I read it straight through, it really was unputdownable. At first I was not sure if I liked the main characters, Mina and Lane, but they and their mysteries grew more intriguing as did their personalities. You knew people were lying but the information was fed to you gently, incrementally. I love the way details of Lane and his sister, Lynnie, are trickled out. The story teases and tantalises, urging you to read on. The dying country town vibe was perfect, I could picture it all in my head. The nosiness, the protectiveness and ultimately compassion of people living in a small community was realised brilliantly. The plot was superb. Just when you thought you knew how the story will unfold, a new piece of information comes to light and the rug is pulled from under your feet. Very skillfully done. The plotting is tight and well paced. There are many aha moments when you realise how cleverly the tiny little hints have been constructed. Such a tremendous debut, more please. Thank you to #HachetteAustralia and #BetterReading for the ARC of #Wake and to #ShelleyBurr for writing such a marvellous crime novel. Sarah, QLD, 5 Stars

An ending so gripping, I cancelled plans so I could finish. Mina’s sister went missing years ago but she hasn’t had closure on what happened since then. Lane Holland comes to town, set on solving the case but struggles to engage in the tight knit community. Set in rural Australia, Burr takes you through a detective fiction so realistic, it feels like you’re right there sitting in the Aussie pub. This is the Aussie crime drama 2022 has been waiting for. Alyssa, ACT, 5 Stars

Wake is authentically Australian. Wake is a mystery that will engage you from the very first page and you won’t want to stop reading. Shelley Burr has a real talent for character development, balanced descriptive prose and provide just the right amount of intrigue and mystery. The Aussie outback is a great setting for a missing child cold case and as the story unfolds you learn about the secrets this town holds. The plot explores lifelong trauma, uncomfortable relationships, guilt and and accepted grief. It’s a crime fiction that radiates heat and I loved it!! Samantha, QLD, 5 Stars

Mina McCreery is in hiding. Hiding from the media, the reward hunters and two decades of guilt she’s carried since her sister, Evie, disappeared. She spends her days searching the family farm in the country town of Naneen for her sister’s body. Lane Holland, ex-cop, and private investigator is just as determined to find Evie. He’s burdened with the responsibility of bringing up his younger sister and the suspicions he carries about Evie’s disappearance. After selling the caravan he calls home, Lane leaves his PI job in Byron Bay to come to Naneen, desperate to solve the cold case, to claim the reward money and save his younger sister. Mina and Lane, two people wounded by an event and unsure of who to trust gradually piece together the events of the night Evie disappeared, the night the travelling show came to town. I was intrigued and fascinated with the two main characters, Lane and Mina—both incredibly strong, both vulnerable in their own way. Shelley Burr’s novel reveals the dark dynamics between families, friends, and strangers when tragedy strikes a small-town leaving doubt, suspicion, and broken lives in its wake. A twisting-turning-rollercoaster of a read till the end. Loved it. Annette, QLD, 5 Stars

What an incredible debut novel from Shelley Burr. Aussie crime fiction is one of my favourite genres to read and I was absolutely thrilled to be selected to get a copy through Better Reading. There is something about a crime thriller set in a small, remote Aussie town. The town of Nannie in NSW is where we find ourselves. Everybody knows everyone’s business – or so they think. When PI Lane Holland comes to town to investigate the case of missing girl Evelyn McCreery, nobody wants to talk to him. Eventually, Evelyn’s twin sister Mina starts to open up to him and the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. But is Lane there for the huge reward, or does he have an ulterior motive? I read Wake in 2 sittings and I can absolutely see why there is so much hype for this book. The atmosphere of the small outback town where the Royal Flying Doctors are the best solution for a snake bite, and the vast distance they must travel just to shop. I just loved every minute of it. Published in Australia April 27th, it is going to be a massive hit. Thanks to Hachette Australia for my advanced copy to read. So very highly recommended. Mandy, NSW, 5 Stars

Wake is the debut novel for Australian author Shelley Burr. Wake is set in a small Australian town called Nannine. Nineteen years ago Evelyn McCreery disappeared from her bedroom that she shared with Mina her twin sister. Mina’s life changed from that day. Even though it’s been nineteen years there is still a million dollar reward out. The crime has had immense public interest. There are always conspiracy theories when someone vanishes and are not found. Mina’s name is among the rumours that she may be involved. Mina is under such scrutiny that she has isolated herself in her family’s destocked sheep farm.Mina is now filled with anxiety and has become a loner. Private Investigator Lane Holland come to Nannine and is adamant that he will close the case. Mina thinks he is untrustworthy and just looking to cash-in.. Eventually Lane gets her trust. Lane has recently been doing insurance work among other things. Lane is persistent and he strives to find the truth behind the disappearance. Lane is unconventional with the way he works and has his own agenda for wanting the case solved. Lane becomes obsessed for the answer putting him and Mina in jeopardy. Wake has a fantastic plot and will keep you guessing until the last page. Freda, QLD, 5 Stars

When Evelyn McCreery disappeared without a trace nineteen years ago, her disappearance would shape the McCreery family and the wider Nannine community for years to come. Wake is a multi-dimensional narrative that is an intelligent and timely discussion of the impacts of the media and social media on criminal investigations, both for the victims’ families/communities and the investigators. Wake was a real page turner for me. The characters are well drawn and there are twists which keep the reader engaged as you learn the individual motives behind the characters wanting to solve Evelyn McCreery’s disappearance. Shelley Burr masterfully weaves together all of these narrative strands to create an outstanding debut novel and I look forward to her next novel. Holly, WA, 5 Stars

WAKE is the debut book from upcoming Australian author Shelley Burr. Set in remote NSW, a young girl disappears from the bedroom she shared with her twin sister and hasn’t been seen for 19 years. Who dunnit, is still the question on everyone’s lips? Mina McCreery (twin) lives a reclusive life on the family farm, struggling with her own anxieties. Evelyn McCreery (missing twin) disappeared from their bedroom 19 years ago without a trace. Lane Holland (private investigator) makes a living cracking cold cases and has his own troubled past. Burr paints a picture of Nannine, the fictional town in outback NSW, so graphic that you can feel the suffering, hardships, and the will of a community surviving tough times. Although it may seem slow at times, this allows Burr to build the character profiles so the reader can fully appreciate and empathise with what they have endured. Usually after reading a few chapters I could put a book down but not with WAKE, Burr left you wanting more. I really want to discuss the ending so if you could all hurry up and read it when it comes out in June this year would be great. I would recommended WAKE for those who like Australian Outback Crime stories from the likes of Harper, Hammer & Disher. Donna, NSW, 5 Stars

Mina McCreery has been living in the shadow of her twin sister’s disappearance for the last 19 years. Lane Holland, a private investigator with a good record of solving cold cases of disappearing girls, shows up offering help to find Mina’s lost sister. Is Lane motivated by the two million dollar reward or is there something else motivating him? This book was gripping. It deals with the trauma and guilt of those left behind and how their lives are forever changed. The book is set in drought stricken NSW in a very small town. You felt like you were there walking the streets. Once the book picked up pace it was impossible to put down. Fans of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer will love this book. My favourite read of 2022. Amanda, ACT, 5 Stars

I was drawn into WAKE from the first few pages and couldn’t put it down until the end. The storyline flows well and I enjoyed all the twists and turns. I loved how the characters developed and revealed a little bit more of themselves with every chapter. I felt all the highs, the lows and the anticipation something was just about to happen as the book moved along. The way the title WAKE is also woven into the book added that little bit extra as you didn’t want it to be true. Highly recommend. Simone, WA, 5 Stars

WAKE had me hooked from the very first chapter, it had me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and itching to get back to find out more. The description of both the characters and the locations were so well done I could visualize it all in my mind. Chilling and gripping with twists on each page. Shayla, NSW, 5 Stars

Captivating, bone-chilling and mesmerizing… Shelley Burr had me glued to this novel from start to end. So many twists and turns, I was intrigued by the main characters and their journeys on every turn of the page. I appreciated the backdrop of Australiana, the exploration of towns written with depth and detail. Sink your teeth into this book if you are a fan of Australian Crime. You won’t regret it. Well done Shelley Burr 👏👏 Izabella, VIC, 5 Stars

Full of twists and turns from start to finish, with everything being neatly wrapped up in the final pages. Can’t wait to read more by Shelley Burr! Jacqui, NSW, 5 Stars

Mina McCreery lives on an isolated rural property in drought-ridden Western NSW. A virtual recluse, she struggles to cope with the trauma of her twin sister’s disappearance 19 years earlier and the public’s ongoing fascination with the case. When Lane Holland, a private investigator with a tragic history of his own shows an interest in the case, Mina is drawn into Lane’s obsessive crusade, placing both their lives in danger. Shelley Burr won the CWA Debut Dagger award in 2019 with this ripper of a crime novel and I’m sure she will collect many more accolades following its publication. A masterfully constructed page-turner, this intelligent novel explores the lifelong impact of trauma with empathy and complexity without ever compromising pace. The characters are interesting and well-drawn and the structure inventive. At no point does the plot feel far-fetched or manipulative, although the events depicted are indeed shocking. The parched rural setting is vividly realised, the atmosphere reminiscent of Jane Harper’s ‘The Lost Man’. This twisty well-written novel will appeal to crime fiction afficionados and omnivorous readers alike. A stunning debut. Lisa, NSW, 5 Stars

Crime/Mystery is not always a genre that I enjoy reading, but I can happily confess that I devoured this book in two days, It’s a refreshingly Australian take on a crime/mystery. Following the characters of Lane and Mina as they each weave through the mystery of Evie’s disappearance and what happened that night. Shelley Burr’s writing and characters are easy and inviting like a friend and engaging as it subtly pulls you into the story and reveals the clues of the mystery. I look forward to seeing a lot more from Shelley and I can highly recommend WAKE as a great read. Readers who have enjoyed Jane Harper’s The Dry or Honey Brown’s The Good Daughter will enjoy WAKE. Tamika, QLD, 5 Stars

A slow paced, atmospheric mystery! Loved the rural Australian setting and the slowly unfolding mystery. The main characters (Mina and Lane) are interesting and likeable and I was reeled in by Lane’s untold past/ connection to the case. The ending is surprisingly and satisfying, but not overly complex or contributed. A fantastic debut novel! Meg, VIC, 5 Stars

I was lucky enough to have been given an ARC of this book by Hachette & Better Reading in exchange for an honest review. I won’t lie, I’m always a little wary about books that get a lot of hype in the lead up to their release…sometimes the can fall really flat. In this case though, the rave reviews are spot on. This is the sort of book that, pre-babies, I would have devoured in a day. As it was, with two small children, it took me a bit longer to get through – but not for lack of want! I found myself sneaking in a chapter here or there any opportunity I could. I just couldn’t stop wondering about Evie McCreery and whether or not she would ever be found. The writing in this book is superb; vivid and wonderfully descriptive set amongst the harsh, dry landscape of rural NSW and with characters who are so beautifully flawed, this really is an addictive whodunnit. If you only read one Aussie crime drama this year, do yourself a favour and make sure it’s Wake. Elise, VIC, 5 Stars

I devoured Wake in one day! The characters felt real and the plot kept me wanting to know what happened next. Outback crime is hardly a new genre, but this take from the perspective of those impacted upon has something different to offer. Georgina, NT, 4 Stars

I really enjoyed Shelley Burr’s WAKE. She takes the reader on a journey to uncover what happened all those years ago not only to Evelyn but to everyone we meet along the way. She presents explanations of why our characters are the way they are today as well as what motivates them to solve the mystery of Evelyn’s disappearance. I highly recommend this book to all and will definitely be looking forward to reading Burrs future work. Rachelle, TAS, 4 Stars

I loved this story set in rural Australia. Shelley Burr’s description of the landscape and town painted a vivid picture in my mind. An authentic story about the disappearance of a young girl 19 years ago and how her twin sister and family have survived and coped with this traumatic event. A young private detective arrives in town hoping to solve the mystery and collect the million dollar reward.What is his connection? Brilliantly written and told, with very engaging characters. A great plot that made me keep turning the pages wanting to find the answers. A suspenseful and authentic Who Done It. Karin, VIC, 4 Stars

In this atmospheric outback story you will be taken on a wild ride to find what happened to Mina’s sister. Mysterious and tense you will never predict the ending, Shelley Burr will be a must buy author for me now! Loved it! Jessica, QLD, 4 Stars

This book was a little slow but only took a few chapters to pick up and things got really interesting, i enjoyed the introduction of the characters and how they met and I liked the dog’s abilities being brought into the book. From the middle to end I really thought I had it figured out but I was so wrong, definitely a good read and really hope there is a sequel to this one 🙂 I really liked the writing and story telling on this one it was just an easy read that grips you in a need to know feeling! Madison, SA, 4 Stars

Wake by Shelley Burr is a gripping crime novel debut from the thought provoking opening paragraph to the explosive conclusion. This atmospheric novel is intricately plotted with interconnected characters. Initially, the novel takes time to gather momentum and establish the plot but there are many gasp out loud moments, particularly in the later half of the novel as the plot intensifies. It also examines the “celebrity fascination” that becomes attached to victims of crime. This is definitely a crime novel not to be missed. Hayley, SA, 4 Stars


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          Publisher details

          Shelley Burr
          27 April, 2022


          A searing debut crime novel where the grief and guilt surrounding an unsolved disappearance still haunt a small farming community... and will ultimately lead to a reckoning

          The small town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of New South Wales. Once a thriving outback centre of stockyards and sheep stations, years of punishing drought have petrified the land. Now nearly a ghost town, Nannine has been whittled down to no more than a stoplight, a couple of pubs and a police station. But it has another, more sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of young Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago from the bedroom she shared with her twin sister. The details seem impossible - the intruder left no evidence. No forced entry. No fingerprints. No footprints. No tyre tracks. Evelyn simply vanished.

          Mina McCreery's life has been defined by the intense public interest in her sister's case, which is still a hot topic on social media and in true-crime chat rooms. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family's sunbaked destocked sheep farm.

          Enter Lane Holland, a private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Before she died, Mina's mother funded a million-dollar reward for anyone who could explain how Evelyn disappeared from her bed in the family's farmhouse. The lure of cash increased the public obsession with Evelyn and Mina, yet has never led to an answer.

          Lane needs money to pay for his little sister's university education, and he wins Mina's trust when some of his more unconventional methods show promise. But Lane also has darker motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the search will ultimately risk both their lives - and yield shocking results.

          Compulsively readable, with an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, WAKE is a powerful, unsparing story of how trauma ripples outward when people's private tragedies become public property, and how it's never too late for the truth to set things right.

          Shelley Burr
          About the author

          Shelley Burr

          Shelley Burr grew up on Newcastle's beaches and her grandparents' farm in Glenrowan, and on the road between the two. When not writing, she works in environmental policy in Canberra and is studying agriculture at the University of New England, with a focus on soil science. She is an alumnus of the ACT Writers Hardcopy program (2018) and a Varuna fellow. WAKE won the CWA Debut Dagger Award in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award and the Bath Novel Award.

          Books by Shelley Burr


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          1. Jacob Hogan says:

            This is a good book to read, and if you have free time, you can also play redactle unlimited.