An Isolated Incident

By Emily Maguire Pan Macmillan


Emily Maguire

Judges' report


An Isolated Incident is a compelling story that considers the part the media plays in sensationalising crime, the plight of those whose lives are forever changed by an act of violence, and community acceptance of violence against women. It is also a murder mystery that deftly transforms the genre, focusing on the family and friends of the victim rather than the crime itself, and tactically diminishing the perpetrator in a careful withdrawal from the sensational. The novel is a celebration of sisters: Bella, the murder victim, and her sister Chris are very different women, but they have a convincing and touching affinity. May, a crime reporter, is also absorbed by the events surrounding Bella’s death and begins to question the limitations of her profession. Emily Maguire cleverly ties together the experiences of Chris and May, bringing into play the impact of Bella’s murder on other members of the community. Australian society’s attitudes towards violence against women are inevitably at the heart of this topical and accomplished novel.

Further reading


Reviews:

  • ‘Rather than creating a simple case of goodies and baddies, Maguire subtly examines the complexity of the human personality and what leads somebody to feel destructive… This hugely chilling and evocative story, mixing lyrical language and brutal events, is told with great psychological acuity.’ Anita Sethi, Sydney Morning Herald
  • ‘This is a harrowing, fascinating, compelling work from an accomplished and thoughtful Australian writer who uses the vehicle of a young woman’s death to question and explore society’s treatment of women, the everyday violence it condones and its intrusive fascination with the murder of pretty young women.’ Susanne Leal, The Australian
  • ‘Within its gripping storytelling An Isolated Incident raises many disturbing questions about men and women, and about attitudes to what can seem the inevitability of violence by one sex upon the other. But above all this is a powerful and provocative examination of grief, and in Chris Emily Maguire has created a character who resounds in the imagination.’ Linda Funnell, Newtown Review of Books
  • ‘Maguire’s prose is concise and confident, affecting without being maudlin, horrifying without being gruesome.’ Alan Vaarwerk, Readings

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