Angry and behaving badly after Mum leaves the family, Sasha (13) and younger brother Nicky move from Melbourne to the remote rural town of Manna Creek with their policeman father during the mid-year school holidays. To break the boredom, Sasha and Nicky explore the empty streets and observe some strange local characters. Sasha experiences unexplained severe headaches, nausea and disturbing premonitions, particularly when approaching the ruins of the old police cell behind their house. Asked to provide a home for an ex-police dog, Sasha suddenly realises that she can ‘hear’ King’s thoughts, thus discovering her unrecognised telepathic abilities. When Dad follows a promising tipoff relating to a spate of art thefts, he disappears – so Sasha and King set out to find him on a dangerous bush track into the mountains in the dark.
Sasha is a strong and credible character with an enquiring mind. Within the warmly supportive rapport of her family, she reflects on her past misbehaviour and learns to overcome her fears while unravelling terrible injustices of the past as well as present-day crimes. The misleadingly sleepy atmosphere of the little town and its inhabitants are intriguing drawn, while the pacey writing style and Sasha’s distinctive voice make this an exciting and engrossing novel for secondary readers. CM