BOOK CLUB: Death Leaves the Station

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Death Leaves the Station is the first novel by Alexander Thorpe, although reading his “About the author” section he seems to have lived a most interesting life and should have plenty of experiences to incorporate into future works.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Thorpe’s use of language and description is masterful and once started I didn’t want to put it down.

The tale commences with a grinning little man knocking on the door of the house at Halfwell Station, on the edge of the West Australian Outback.  When the lady of the house, Mrs Harris answers the door she is confronted by the man, dressed in a long brown shift or cassock, who politely requests “a spot of tea.”  As Mrs Harris agrees and lets him in, we are told that “Somewhere in the mulga, a mile or two to the south, a corpse lay slowly cooling.”

And with that enigmatic beginning, we meet the Harris’. Ruth Harris, a short wiry woman of middle age, Neville Harris, a farmer who believes as the man of the house he is entitled to speak for the women, Mariana, their daughter and the little grinning man, a friar who claims to have no name.

With the discovery of a dead body on the property by Mariana, that magically disappears before anyone else gets to see it, we are introduced to Detective Sergeant Arnold Parkes of Geraldton Police Station (and his moustache) and his indigenous tracker, Cooper.

The search for answers, where has the corpse gone, who was the corpse, why was he killed etc will bring up more questions, and answers, for all involved. As Parkes, Cooper, Mariana, and the nameless friar embark on a search that will lead them from the goldfields to the city, admissions and discoveries will occur that will rock everyone’s world.

In telling this tale Thorpe has not attempted to play down the attitudes, ideas and prejudices that were prevalent at the turn of the 20th century, in his own words “I have included these in the interests of providing an accurate historical setting and in the recognition that the damaging legacy of racism should not be hidden or downplayed. No disrespect is intended.” 

Many thanks to Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review this book, and to share it with members of Beauty and Lace Club.  I hope others enjoy it as much as I did.

Highly recommended for lovers of Cozy Mysteries, historical fiction and anyone who enjoys a good read.

ISBN: 9 781925 816006 / Publisher: Fremantle Press

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Death Leaves the Station by Alexander Thorpe. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

6 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Death Leaves the Station

  1. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Death leaves the station by Alexander Thorpe.

    I really enjoyed this murder mystery!! Set in Australian this was a real page turner for me.

    An easy read with a few twists at the end.

    Do yourself a favour and read this!!


  2. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Death leaves the station by Alexander Thorpe.

    I really enjoyed this murder mystery!! Set in Australian this was a real page turner for me.

    An easy read with a few twists at the end.

    Do yourself a favour and read this!!


  3. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review Death Leaves the Station by Alexander Thorpe. I will start by saying this was not at all what I expected, and that is not a bad thing. The murder mystery transports the reader back to a different time, a time that you often hear about, but in different settings to this. Here we have regional Western Australia, with indigenous slaves and trackers, self important police officers and a way of life not many are used to anymore. A somewhat romantic notion of train travel, from regional WA right through to Perth and Fremantle, takes in all walks of life and attitudes of all. The story is sure to keep you guessing- while I wondered who had committed the murder throughout, I found myself much more intrigued by the surrounds, the characters and the rest of the story. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
    A very different novel to what I have recently read, but an interesting tale nonetheless.

  4. Death leaves the Station is a great, concise and exciting read. The first few pages of the adventure sparked my curiosity and combined with the wordsmithing perfection, I was hooked. Alexander’s descriptions are so meticulous, it was like watching a movie. I could literally see each scene.

    The story is so refreshing – being set in the Australian outback, this murder mystery had it all … intrigue, twists, complex characters, and beautiful imagery. Page 91 hosts one of my favourite paragraphs ….

    Slowly, sound returned, the screeching mechanical protest of brakes co-mingling with the wordless cries of the human element in one cacophonous wail. The slid to a halt, the world returning with a thud to its customary place beneath them. The cloud of dirt and detritus kicked up by their tyres hung over the vehicle for a long minute, blood-coloured particles dancing in the feeble breeze before settling gently over the windscreen. ……. “What in the bloody buggering hell was that?” demanded the detective sergeant.

    Priceless !!!

    Thanks so much @FremantlePress for believing in @alexanderthought to publish his first novel, and thank you to @beautyandlacemag for exposing me to so many genius writers.

    I look forward to further works by @alexanderthought

  5. The first thing that struck me with this novel is that there is little background given early in the book. We meet the characters pretty much at the scene of the crime and it is from there that their stories develop and we learn about them as they learn about each other.

    I did struggle to remain enthusiastic about reading this book and only read a few pages at a time. It wasn’t until the story unravels that I became enthralled in this remarkable murder mystery. Each character had their own history and issues, and it was the revelation of these that finally starts to put the puzzle pieces together.

    Thank you to Alexander Thorpe, Fremantle Press and Beauty & Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read this novel. It was an interesting read and I would happily share this with friends.

  6. I read this book through my summer holiday by the beach and it was such an easy beach read. Set in the 1920s Australian outback, the character of the Friar was odd but acceptable it seemed. I did find the writing quite flowery but could have been depicting that era. Like a lot of the readers, I didn’t pick up the twist but this is what I love about murder mysteries. I like to suspect who did it but love it when it all unravels and all my suspicions were wrong!!

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