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Bibliophile | Several mysteries intertwine in ‘The Last Trace’

The Last Trace
by Petronella McGovern
Allen & Unwin

Petronella McGovern is fascinated by what makes us tick and the secrets we keep from each other and ourselves. Lachy has a secret. Ever since he was young, he has been having blackouts, but he was getting better at controlling them.

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For the last decade, he noticed that his memory would slip about once a year. The blackouts often happened as a result of drinking alcohol too fast, and he felt so much shame that he hadn’t told anyone. How is it that the things he wanted to forget were still there and the other stuff had vanished into the ether?

Escaping from the disasters of his job in Kenya back to his family home in Mimosa, five hours from Sydney, was meant to provide Lachy with the same sense of security he felt as a kid, but it only reinforced how much he had changed.

Lachy is not coping. Climate Change had a stressful enough impact on his work, but then there was the blackout he had in Washington DC and the stress about being asked to provide a sample for a DNA test by his ex-girlfriend over there.

“His brain had gone into overdrive and hadn’t stopped spinning” … except during the blackouts. And he was so distracted by his own issues that he didn’t see that his son was spinning out as well.

Lachy was looking after fifteen year-old Kai who had been banished to the country to remove him from the bad influences of his city friends. Lachy’s ex-wife and her new partner were off on an extended holiday and, as his sister Sheridan reminded him, it was time he stepped up to being a responsible adult.

Kai could recognise the signs – glazed eyes, the repetition of questions and complete lack of short term memory and he reached out to Sheridan during her visit over Easter with her husband and two daughters.

This is also a tale of two sisters. Gloria, who is the mother of Lachy and Sheridan, has had her memories stolen by dementia, but she still remembers her sister Elizabeth who was murdered after being ostracized from her family for being pregnant.

The suspense builds as families get torn apart. The strands of several mysteries intertwine as happenings from the past continue to have ramifications through each successive generation.

Lezly Herbert

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