Winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Prize.
‘So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?’ Jane’s voice took on an indignant pitch. ‘Girls lie sometimes.’ I nodded. ‘And rapists lie all the time.’
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.
The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis is a fast-paced chilling story about small town secrets.
Senior Detective Antigone Pollard has escaped from Melbourne to the small coastal town of Deception Bay after a rape case went horribly wrong. Almost as soon as she arrives, she is exposed to a group of drink spikers responsible for a spate of sexual assaults in the area and is determined to get to the bottom of who is responsible. What she didn’t expect is the wall of denial and fear that she must encounter at every turn – even from her boss.
I’ve long been a fan of Vikki Petraitis’s true crime books and podcasts and I enjoyed her first fiction novel just as much. She’s expertly woven in facts with fiction to create this important and timely story about how difficult it is to get true justice in sexual assault cases.
I loved Antigone’s tough no-nonsense exterior, even while she was under such an incredible amount of pressure. She had a lot of depth as a character and I think that the first person narrative was an excellent choice for this story as it allowed for more of Antigone’s thoughts and feelings to be explored. She might have been a bit too much of a strong female stereotype if her vulnerabilities weren’t revealed throughout the story this way.
The supporting cast of characters were also well-rounded. I particularly enjoyed her somewhat bumbling, but well intentioned, partner Wozza and Pip was a delightful surprise. Waffles the failed police dog was my favourite though!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Unbelieved and am looking forward to reading more!
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my review copy.
Title: The Unbelieved
Author: Vikki Petraitis
Published: Allen & Unwin 02 Aug 2022
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Goodreads: The Unbelieved