Review: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Wendy James

  • first published in 2010 by UWA Publishing
  • 250 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-921401-46-6
  • 250 pages
  • Source: my local library

Synopsis (from author site)

Susan and Ed Middleton are perfectly content with their lives. Two kids, two cars, a solid brick bungalow in a respectable Northern beaches suburb. They’re good people, model citizens. There’s barely a ripple in the surface of their happy existence. But when Susan’s older sister, who vanished as a teenager, reappears to claim an inheritance, everything is set to change…

My take

What would you remember about her if your sister, who is ten years older than you, simply walked out one night and never came back? Would you know her if she reappeared twenty years later? Would you know if the person was an imposter? What if she didn’t have any evidence of her old identity? What if she had changed her name? What questions should you ask?

And what if there was more at stake? What if you had to share your mother’s estate with her?

Sure, you’d remember the impact her disappearance had. But even that would be seen from a child’s point of view. Adults would shield you from the worst knowledge. And she would be dead to you.

Wendy James has taken an interesting scenario and explored it in an engaging way, taking the reader deep into the life that Susan and Ed Middleton have established. There are many variants of this scenario that readers will be familiar with: the abducted child; the mother or father who deserts the family; or daughter or son who simply leaves home. We all know someone or a family that this has happened to. Sometimes the “lost” returns, sometimes never appears again.

I guess the book isn’t really crime fiction in a way, but is the prodigal sister really who she says she is, or is a crime being committed as we read? I found the suspense in the novel well done, the characters for the most part well drawn.

Wendy James is certainly an author I’ll look for again. I’m not sure why I haven’t come across her before, especially as she has now published 4 novels and a short story collection, and won the Ned Kelly Award for best first novel in 2006 with OUT OF THE SILENCE.

Thanks to fellow blogger Bernadette for pointing her out to me with a review of THE MISTAKE.

My rating: 4.8

Other links to explore:

About the Author

Wendy James is an Australian author of crime and psychological thrillers. She currently lives in Armidale, New South Wales with her husband and two children.

3 thoughts on “Review: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Wendy James

  1. Shows how hard it must be for new authors eh Kerrie? I had not heard of her before this year either and we are both always on the lookout for crime authors – especially Aussie ones.


  2. Any idea where I can purchase The Mistake and other Aussie books. I see The Precipice is at Book Depository, but can’t find Wendy James’ works. Also, other books by women writers in Oz?
    Am in the middle of The Brotherhood; it’s fascinating. The style is interesting with the separate chapters from several p.o.v.


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