55
*** There were 54 victims before this. Who is number 55? ***A thriller with a killer hook, and an ending that will make you gasp!Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town's small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler's station. He's covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.Heath is a serial killer.As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.Gabriel is the serial killer.Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer. This novel has been sold in 19 countries so far and has just been optioned for film.

55 Details

Title55
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 4th, 2019
PublisherSimon & Schuster UK
ISBN-139781471177538
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Thriller, Fiction

55 Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Another Aussie crime writer establishes himself as the latest to pen an intense and intriguing novel with a fabulous premise. Set in Western Australia, Wilbrook is a small empty shell of a town, with the remnants of a history that included gold mining, blue asbestos and iron ore. Sergeant Chandler Jenkins leads his small police team where domestics are the usual fare. Everything is about to change when a terrified injured man, Gabriel, enters the police station with a scary tale of being held by Another Aussie crime writer establishes himself as the latest to pen an intense and intriguing novel with a fabulous premise. Set in Western Australia, Wilbrook is a small empty shell of a town, with the remnants of a history that included gold mining, blue asbestos and iron ore. Sergeant Chandler Jenkins leads his small police team where domestics are the usual fare. Everything is about to change when a terrified injured man, Gabriel, enters the police station with a scary tale of being held by a serial killer, Heath, intent on killing him, telling he will be number 55. He manages to escape and is unsettled and jittery, convinced Heath will find him. Chandler sees him to the local hotel, with one of his team, Jim, on guard outside the building. Another injured man, Heath, is bought to the station for attempting to steal a car. Heath claims he only wanted the car to escape a serial killer named Gabriel, who was planning to kill him as number 55, until he escaped. With well nigh identical stories, who is Chandler to believe? Or perhaps they are equally guilty, with the pair being in cahoots, working together until they fell out?The story has two timelines, the present and one from 2002 when Chandler and Mitchell Andrews were rookie cops involved in search for a young missing hiker, Martin, lost in the unforgiving heat of the outback, accompanied by a distraught father with his younger son, Davie. Something clearly causes a deep schism between Chandler and Mitchell in the past that resulted in Mitchell moving to the city whilst climbing the promotional ladder. Mitchell is now a Inspector, and Chandler's boss, he arrives in Wilbrook to takeover police operations to get to the bottom of what is clearly going to be a huge case. He brings his own team, with every intention of sidelining Chandler. A fraught and tense relationship highlights the differences between the two men. Mitchell is a highly ambitious and political animal, constantly denigrating Chandler, not averse to manipulation, engaging in brutality and not interested in developing team relationships. Jenkins takes it upon himself to ensure the well being of his team and takes a keen interest in their development. The past has strong links and uncomfortable echoes in the present as Chandler is to find to his cost.Whilst I really enjoyed this wonderful debut with its strong sense of location and the depiction of never ending heat, I am not so keen on the ending. Delargy does a terrific job in building suspense and tension as the reader wonders, doubts, debates, and looks for clues as to whether the serial killer is Gabriel or Heath. It is Chandler who is interested in getting to the bottom of who the two men are, digging into their past history and trying to discern the motive behind the killings. The characterisation is done well, with Chandler the good guy and Mitchell is a self centred and unpleasant individual, his interest primarily in the glory he thinks he will accrue, anytime things do not go his way, he has a scapegoat lined up. This novel is another great addition to the rising genre of Aussie Noir. I found it entertaining and engaging, and such gripping reading fare despite the unsatisfying ending. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for an ARC.
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  • Kylie D
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this is one book that will get a grip on you and wont let go! Two suspects, each with the same story, blaming the other. A possible 54 bodies somewhere. Small town cop Chandler has no choice but to call in the bigwigs, including his estranged former best friend Mitch.Mitch and his crew come in and take over, but Mitch is an arrogant moron, I have no idea how he got to such a high ranking, and the whole thing goes belly up. With a police force divided, and a serial killer on the loose, this Wow, this is one book that will get a grip on you and wont let go! Two suspects, each with the same story, blaming the other. A possible 54 bodies somewhere. Small town cop Chandler has no choice but to call in the bigwigs, including his estranged former best friend Mitch.Mitch and his crew come in and take over, but Mitch is an arrogant moron, I have no idea how he got to such a high ranking, and the whole thing goes belly up. With a police force divided, and a serial killer on the loose, this makes for an action-packed explosive story. As we race towards the stunning conclusion we have to ask ourselves, could this really happen?This is a wonderful debut, James Delargy tells a tale so astonishing it comes alive on the page. The harsh outback setting adds to the atmosphere, the flawed, and the irritating, characters all giving voice to a marvellous story. I dare you to put this book down! Recommended for crime lovers everywhere.4.5 stars rounded up.My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    Whoa! This was one high tension read. I don't think my heartbeat returned to normal the whole way through. And that ending - Mr Delargy - How Could You?!!This is a very clever debut novel with two young men, beaten and bloodied, first one and then the other walking in to a police station claiming to be backpackers with an alarming story of abduction by a man who told them they were going to be killed as his victim number 55. Both tell identical stories of being locked and shackled in a small hut Whoa! This was one high tension read. I don't think my heartbeat returned to normal the whole way through. And that ending - Mr Delargy - How Could You?!!This is a very clever debut novel with two young men, beaten and bloodied, first one and then the other walking in to a police station claiming to be backpackers with an alarming story of abduction by a man who told them they were going to be killed as his victim number 55. Both tell identical stories of being locked and shackled in a small hut followed by a terrifying escape through the harsh and rugged bush surrounding the small outback town in northern Western Australia. The local Sergent, Chandler Jenkins doesn't know who to believe. Either one of them is guilty or they're both working together to abduct and kill lone backpackers. Chandler has no choice but to call the regional commander, specifically Inspector Mitchell Andrews, with whom he has past history. Once colleagues starting out together in the force, Mitch felt he was made for higher command and forced his way to the top, growing in arrogance and self-importance as he went. Delargy keeps us guessing most of the way through this novel as to how this will all end. As well as the conflict between the two suspects both claiming their innocence, there is tension between Chandler and Mitch as Mitch walks in and takes over his station and sneeringly orders his staff around. Flashbacks to their early days in the local force when they were both on an extended search for a missing man, highlights their different natures and approaches to policing. It is Chandler who will eventually through good police work discover the identity and motives of the killer, but not before the tension builds to a pressure that is about to explode. A well written debut novel, with well depicted characters and a well paced intense plot. Definitely a new writer to look out for in the future! 4.5★With thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for a digital ARC to read
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  • Phrynne
    January 1, 1970
    This book started so well with two men in police custody, each one claiming to be the victim of the other. Who to believe and how to discover the truth?What a great premise which led to an interesting and intriguing story. The Australian setting was well done but I thought the characters needed more work. Most of them had a name but no background and the two main players who did have a lot of background, Chandler and Mitch, became rather tedious with their overdramatised feud.Still a good, reada This book started so well with two men in police custody, each one claiming to be the victim of the other. Who to believe and how to discover the truth?What a great premise which led to an interesting and intriguing story. The Australian setting was well done but I thought the characters needed more work. Most of them had a name but no background and the two main players who did have a lot of background, Chandler and Mitch, became rather tedious with their overdramatised feud.Still a good, readable story until the last page. That was one of the worst endings ever. I am afraid my disappointment in that has affected both my rating and my review.
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  • NZLisaM
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up to 4!In the small, isolated Outback town of Gardner's Hill, Western Australia, a distraught man named Gabriel stumbles into the police station. He claims to have been held prisoner by a serial killer called Heath, who intended him to be victim no 55. Later that day, another man turns up with the exact same story, stating his name as Heath, but is adamant Gabriel is the killer, not him. Which man is lying? It's up to Senior Sergeant Chandler Jenkins to figure out which of the two i 3.5 rounded up to 4!In the small, isolated Outback town of Gardner's Hill, Western Australia, a distraught man named Gabriel stumbles into the police station. He claims to have been held prisoner by a serial killer called Heath, who intended him to be victim no 55. Later that day, another man turns up with the exact same story, stating his name as Heath, but is adamant Gabriel is the killer, not him. Which man is lying? It's up to Senior Sergeant Chandler Jenkins to figure out which of the two is a threat to the people in his town.A steady-paced, engrossing thriller, with a gripping unique premise. It was well written, twisty, with creepy, religious undertones. The remote, lonely location served as a scary reminder that so much of the Australian Outback is unpopulated, and unliveable – the perfect, private hunting ground for a serial killer to hide.Aside from the prologue, events unfold entirely from Chandlers POV in the third person. Mostly takes place in the present with occasional flashbacks to 10 years previously. It is very much a male dominated book, with few female characters, and the ones that there are aren't well developed. Chandler is a likeable character, but not the brightest tool in the shed, and also somewhat spineless at sticking up for himself. The rivalry between Chandler and visiting Inspector, Mitch Adams, did become tiresome, but for the plot to go in the direction it did became hugely important, so keep that in mind if you find their arguments getting on your nerves.The ending saw me screaming in frustration, and I'm equally divided between it being clever versus just plain annoying. I'm hopeful it's foreshadowing for a sequel but could just as easily be deliberately open ended and left to your own interpretation. Put it this way, I think readers are going to either love it or hate it – nothing in between.A movie is in the works, and I think it has a lot of potential if done right, and I'm curious to see whether they keep or change the ending? Recommend to my fellow thriller readers who enjoy small town Australian noir. Would I read another book by James Delargy – definitely! – particularly if it's a sequel to this one.I'd like to thank Netgalley, Simon & Schuster (Australia), and James Delargy for the e-ARC. 55 is available now!
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    Sergeant Chandler Jenkins was in charge of the small police station in Wilbrook, Western Australia. One morning, a bedraggled and bloodied individual who said his name was Gabriel, entered the station, telling of the horror of being abducted, beaten and threatened with murder; that he would be victim number 55. He said the person who did this, way out in the bush, called himself Heath. But it wasn’t much later that another individual, in the same shattered state, entered the station, gave his na Sergeant Chandler Jenkins was in charge of the small police station in Wilbrook, Western Australia. One morning, a bedraggled and bloodied individual who said his name was Gabriel, entered the station, telling of the horror of being abducted, beaten and threatened with murder; that he would be victim number 55. He said the person who did this, way out in the bush, called himself Heath. But it wasn’t much later that another individual, in the same shattered state, entered the station, gave his name as Heath and said Gabriel had abducted him, telling him he would be number 55.Much against Chandler’s wishes, the big guns from Port Hedland were brought in, and his nemesis, the now Inspector Mitchell Andrews put himself in charge. Determined to find the answers to who the serial killer was; who the two men were; and receive accolades for his cleverness, Andrews quickly turned people against him. Chandler, relegated to lower duties, put his time in trying to work out who was who and why the events were happening. What would be the outcome in this baffling case?With a terrible ending – shocking, horrible, completely unexpected – and a lot of macho posturing from Mitch amid his ongoing feud with Chandler, this debut novel was less than perfect in my opinion. The tension is gripping; breathtaking, but rather spoiled by Mitch and his determination to better Chandler. Author James Delargy’s novel, 55, has divided people into two different groups, going on the ratings so far, and I’m afraid I’m in the lower rating category. The formatting left a lot to be desired as well.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Pauline
    January 1, 1970
    A small police station in a quiet remote town in Australia is sent into chaos when a man arrives stating that he has been held prisoner by a serial killer and he was to be victim number 55. Later that day another man arrives with the same story and these two men are blaming each other. Unfortunately the first man can no longer be found.A slow burning story with some good characters.Thank you to NetGalley Simon and Schuster UK Fiction for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    One sitting, totally absorbing and utterly addictive read with a KILLER ending- that is “55”, the novel coming next year from James DeLargey, definitely a writer to watch although I’m not sure I’d like to live in his head.One victim. One killer. But which is which? This is the conundrum facing our beleagured main protagonist Chandler, manning a small police station in the back end of nowhere, suddenly thrust into a case beyond imagination. Invaded by an old nemesis whose belief in his own invest One sitting, totally absorbing and utterly addictive read with a KILLER ending- that is “55”, the novel coming next year from James DeLargey, definitely a writer to watch although I’m not sure I’d like to live in his head.One victim. One killer. But which is which? This is the conundrum facing our beleagured main protagonist Chandler, manning a small police station in the back end of nowhere, suddenly thrust into a case beyond imagination. Invaded by an old nemesis whose belief in his own investigative skills is second to none, Chandler leaps from one disaster to another, as the press descend and suddenly the spotlight is everywhere. The plotting is taut and very very clever, the characters are all intriguing and fascinating- not least our two prospective killers, who you’ll waver between with every passing chapter. The setting is wide open and beautifully described adding an atmospheric sense of place to proceedings, the wilderness being a character in it’s own right.Overall this was a hugely fun read in its mystery element and packs quite the emotional punch on occasion too. The ending really is killer, I let out a little yelp, fairly sure that one isn’t leaving my head anytime soon. Brilliant. Loved it. Highly Recommended.
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  • Mandy White
    January 1, 1970
    I cannot believe that you ended it there James Delargy!! What the!!!! I was not expecting that at all. This book, a debut from this author was fantastic. This year I am reading more and new Australian writers and I am so glad that I picked this one up.. if you are. a fan of thrillers and police procedurals then you need to get your hand story on it too. The story was clever and different and so well written. Set in outback Western Australia the writer makes you feel like you are there. I heard t I cannot believe that you ended it there James Delargy!! What the!!!! I was not expecting that at all. This book, a debut from this author was fantastic. This year I am reading more and new Australian writers and I am so glad that I picked this one up.. if you are. a fan of thrillers and police procedurals then you need to get your hand story on it too. The story was clever and different and so well written. Set in outback Western Australia the writer makes you feel like you are there. I heard that this has been picked up for a movie, and I am looking forward to watching it.Wilbrook is a quiet, remote little town in outback Western Australia. Nothing much happens there. That is until the day that Gabriel stumbles into Chandlers little police station. He is injured and bleeding. He claims that he was drugged and kidnapped by a man called Heath. Everything is thrown at tfinding Heath.. And then he walks into the very same police station claiming that Gabriel drugged and kidnapped him. Both men claim that the other tried to kill them and that they were to be victim Numberr 55. Doe she that have your attention? It certainly got mine!! The story jumps between now and back 10 years with a another case that Chandler was involved with his partner Mitchell. His old partner is no longer a fan f he and is called in to help in this serial killer case... making for a lot of tension and one up manship. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia and NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are no way.
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  • Marianne
    January 1, 1970
    From the opening pages of his first novel, 55, Irish-born author, James Delargy creates instant intrigue when two men, clearly in fear of their lives, enter a remote Western Australian town in short succession claiming to have barely escaped a serial killer. The details of their ordeals are virtually identical, except that each names the other as the killer, and themselves as number 55. With his staff of four, Wilbrook’s Sergeant Chandler Jenkins is ill-equipped to mount a search when one of the From the opening pages of his first novel, 55, Irish-born author, James Delargy creates instant intrigue when two men, clearly in fear of their lives, enter a remote Western Australian town in short succession claiming to have barely escaped a serial killer. The details of their ordeals are virtually identical, except that each names the other as the killer, and themselves as number 55. With his staff of four, Wilbrook’s Sergeant Chandler Jenkins is ill-equipped to mount a search when one of the men disappears, and finds his town overrun by the expensively-besuited Inspector Mitchell Andrews and his slick-looking team of ten. Mitch and Chandler started out in the force together, but ten years earlier, their paths diverged.Delargy’s protagonist is a young cop with integrity whose focus on the case is blurred by the uncomfortable history he has with Mitch. Chandler chose family life while ambitious Mitch chose a career; now, though, Chandler finds that what he does have is under threat. While Chandler is a believable character (although his self-pity and resentment wears a little thin), Mitch seems exaggerated to almost a stereotype. The minor characters show a little depth but don’t really get a chance to shine. A secondary narrative details the search, ten years earlier, for a missing bush walker that highlighted how very different Chandler and Mitch were, both as policemen and as people, a difference that seems, if anything, to have amplified over the intervening years. Delargy’s descriptive prose easily conveys the Pilbara: the dry, searing heat, the desiccated landscape, the vastness, the challenge of distance, and the isolation. Well-articulated, too, are the small-town attitudes, with some sense of, community but also gossip, nosiness, and the disconnection from the city. The resultant boredom evidenced by the younger police officers’ hunger for some excitement.Delargy certainly keeps his reader guessing about what really happened and whether either of the two are telling the truth as he sprinkles clues and red herrings throughout the story, inserting twists and turns right up to a dramatic climax and the shocking conclusion. A crime thriller that starts with great promise but doesn’t quite deliver. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Australia.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    3.5★ for this thrilling debut novel by Irish-born author James Delargy.A terrified young man named Gabriel arrives at the police station in a small, remote Pilbara town, with a tale of escaping a serial-killer, Heath, who had told him he was going to be number 55. Barely had the police managed to plan their approach to locating Heath, when the man himself is brought into the station, blustering at gun-point, explaining his attempt to take the gun-wielder's vehicle was to escape from Gabriel, a s 3.5★ for this thrilling debut novel by Irish-born author James Delargy.A terrified young man named Gabriel arrives at the police station in a small, remote Pilbara town, with a tale of escaping a serial-killer, Heath, who had told him he was going to be number 55. Barely had the police managed to plan their approach to locating Heath, when the man himself is brought into the station, blustering at gun-point, explaining his attempt to take the gun-wielder's vehicle was to escape from Gabriel, a serial-killer who had told him he was going to be victim number 55.The details of both men's stories are virtually identical, but which one is telling the truth?This is a book of thirds. With this killer opening, and a completely mind-blowing, stunning end, the first and last thirds of the book are deserving of all the hype this book is getting. However, I felt it dragged somewhat in the middle. If that had been a bit tighter - perhaps without so much of the chest-beating between cardboard cutout Inspector Mitch Andrews and his former childhood friend (and hero of this story) Sergeant Chandler Jenkins - I would have rated it higher. At around 400 pages, it could afford to have lost a few.For the story alone, this is probably 4 or even 4.5★, but I had some other problems with it too. My digital ARC had a number of irritating editing issues (chiefly apostrophe mis-use and word order mistakes), but I tried to overlook those as much as possible, expecting they would be corrected prior to publication. What kept tripping me up though, was some glaring language errors. Apparently the author has spent some time living in Australia, and full credit to him for setting his novel in remote WA, but the myriad references to 'State' as a separate policing entity (i.e. distinct from the local police unit) really grated. As did constant references to the 'woods' of the Pilbara (come on, if anything they are forests or just the bush), not to mention the 'farms' in the area (stations!!...cattle stations or sheep stations). For me it marked the author as an outsider - more than just an author trying to write for an international audience - and caused me to rate it a little lower on authenticity.Still it was a good read, and I thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy to read and review.
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  • Eva
    January 1, 1970
    When I first spotted this book on Twitter, I just knew it was one I had to read. The fascinating and intriguing premise caught my eye instantly. Who is fifty-five indeed?! My expectations were high but as soon as I started reading the first page, I was already convinced James Delargy was going to live up to them. And then some.Welcome to the sleepy town of Wilbrook, Western Australia. A town so remote, it’s almost falling off the map. A town surrounded by stunning landscapes and beautiful Mother When I first spotted this book on Twitter, I just knew it was one I had to read. The fascinating and intriguing premise caught my eye instantly. Who is fifty-five indeed?! My expectations were high but as soon as I started reading the first page, I was already convinced James Delargy was going to live up to them. And then some.Welcome to the sleepy town of Wilbrook, Western Australia. A town so remote, it’s almost falling off the map. A town surrounded by stunning landscapes and beautiful Mother Nature and yet, it feels oddly claustrophobic. Nothing much ever happens in Wilbrook. It’s the kind of town you leave behind in a trail of dust on your way to the bright lights of the big cities.The small police department mostly deals with domestic disputes, noise complaints, maybe a drunken fight here and there. But all that changes when a blood-soaked Gabriel enters the station. He says he was kidnapped by a serial killer called Heath, who told him he was going to be his fifty-fifth victim. Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins quickly launches a manhunt for this Heath but to his surprise, Heath walks into the police station himself, telling the exact same story. Two suspects or two victims?Yes, good luck trying to figure that one out. Every time I thought I had it figured out, something would happen to make me doubt myself and my opinion shifted. These characters are so immensely intriguing and one or two are also awfully unlikeable. Somehow whatever is going on draws parallels with events from the past, which at some point led me to having one of those exciting eureka moments. But for the most part, my theories kept changing throughout the story as the author kept me guessing until the end, unable to predict the outcome.Speaking of outcomes, I normally make it a point not to mention endings but I can’t wrap this review up without it this time. It is just extremely shocking and it left me so immensely flabbergasted, I had to read it three times. Only to spend the next ten minutes gazing into the distance wondering what the hell I just read. Fa-bu-lous!This isn’t an easy one to review. Obviously I don’t want to give anything away and all you really need to know is right there in the book description. I will say “55” is brilliantly plotted, extremely clever, delightfully atmospheric and an incredibly addictive page-turner. I found it so intensely gripping that I just couldn’t put it down and devoured it in one glorious reading session. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing this book again in my end-of-year wrap up. Loved it!“55” is an incredible debut and I can’t wait to see what James Delargy comes up with next. In the meantime, I’ll be recommending “55” until I’m blue in the face.
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  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    Having raced through the compelling story told by James Delargy in 55, I almost threw it against the wall when I read the last sentence (after double checking there were no pages missing).“‘He wanted me to be number fifty-five,’ the man spluttered, looking Chandler squarely in the eye for the first time. He shivered and squeezed his eyes shut.”On an ordinary morning in the remote Western Australian town of Wilbrook, a bruised and bloodied man stumbles into the police station with a horrifying st Having raced through the compelling story told by James Delargy in 55, I almost threw it against the wall when I read the last sentence (after double checking there were no pages missing).“‘He wanted me to be number fifty-five,’ the man spluttered, looking Chandler squarely in the eye for the first time. He shivered and squeezed his eyes shut.”On an ordinary morning in the remote Western Australian town of Wilbrook, a bruised and bloodied man stumbles into the police station with a horrifying story to tell. Identifying himself as Gabriel, he claims to have have been drugged while hitchhiking, waking to find himself chained to a wall in a small woodshed. His abductors name, Gabriel tells Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, is Heath, a short, stocky man with a deep tan, brown hair, a beard, probably about thirty years old.Just a few hours later a local man marches a bruised and bloodied stranger into the police station at the end of his gun after being caught attempting to steal a car. It’s obvious to the Sergeant that this stranger is the man Gabriel described as his captor, and he moves to arrest him, but is stopped cold when Heath claims to have been drugged while hitchhiking, waking to find himself chained to a wall in a small woodshed. His abductors name, Heath tells Jenkins, is Gabriel, a tall, slim man with a deep tan, stubble chin and a soft voice.“One of them, and only one of them was the true victim and the killer was piggy-backing their story. There was no other explanation.”It is an intriguing and original hook, with both men claiming to be the victim of the other, and the possibility that as many as 54 more victims could be buried somewhere on the outskirts of town.Single father Jenkins, and his small staff- young rookie Nick, the ambitious Luka, second in command, Tanya, and reliable Jim- are perhaps a little out of their depth in this situation. They make a few errors at the outset, which adds to the excitement, but one innocuous mistake in particular will come back to haunt the Sergeant.Given the potential for the case to become a sensation, the investigation is quickly appropriated by Jenkins’ immediate boss, and former friend, Inspector Mitch Andrews. The last case the pair worked on together as rookies, involving a missing person, is recounted In a series of flashbacks, going someway to explaining the animosity between the two men. Delargy’s main characters are well crafted and nuanced. Chandler’s easygoing nature contrasts with Mitch’s self-aggrandising behaviour, much in the same way that Gabriel appears to be the antithesis of Heath, yet as the story progresses,the author subtly develops details that adds depth to their characters.The author maintains an effectively unsettling atmosphere through the novel, where the uncertainty, anxiety, and animosity experienced by, and between, the characters is underscored by the heat and isolation of the environment.“On he drove through the undergrowth, pursuing the echo of his cries but never catching up. He pushed on harder because he was panicked and he pushed on harder because of the tears streaking down his face. He didn’t want anyone to see his hurt, immersing himself in the trees, dirt and despair...”Delargy does an outstanding job of pacing in this novel. Tension ebbs and flows unpredictability as the plot twists and turns. I raced through the pages, finishing it in under three hours, desperate to learn the truth.Oh, but that ending! I still can’t say I’m happy about it, but neither, it’s important to note, can I say that it was disappointment. With an arresting premise, a riveting story, and a provocative conclusion, 55 is an impressive crime thriller debut novel from James Delargy.
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  • Deborah Ideiosepius
    January 1, 1970
    This fascinating new book grabbed me from the first time I read the description, but a bit of back history: I used to be thoroughly addicted to crime fiction, especially all things serial killer related, then I kind of moved on from the addition. I suspect that they all became a bit similar, and the only way many authors could find to up the ante was to up the violence and that never really made it more interesting.In 55, the second I read the description on the publishers pages there was an exc This fascinating new book grabbed me from the first time I read the description, but a bit of back history: I used to be thoroughly addicted to crime fiction, especially all things serial killer related, then I kind of moved on from the addition. I suspect that they all became a bit similar, and the only way many authors could find to up the ante was to up the violence and that never really made it more interesting.In 55, the second I read the description on the publishers pages there was an exciting, innovative hook the theme of which was; My name is Gabriel. A man called Heath tried to kill me, he said he wanted me to be number 55.My name is Heath. A man called Gabriel tried to kill me, he said he wanted me to be number 55.In Wilbrook, a small arid nowhere town in Western Australia our leading character is Chandler who has lived there his whole life and is now the police sergeant. It is hardly a high crime job and so his station is thrown into turmoil when a man, tattered and beaten walks in calling himself Gabriel claiming to have been abducted, held captive and to have escaped his abductor just as he was about to be murdered, number 55...As the station copes with the notion that there is a serial killer out in the great nothingness of the desert who has killed that many people undetected, a second man is brought into the station. His name is Heath, his story is so close to identical to Gabriel's that there is no chance of coincidence. Before long the the regional inspector, a man who has a history with Chandler, descends on the station in an attempt to solve the issue which just keeps getting more and more complicated.This was a really interesting and innovative thriller, it was refreshingly unlike anything similar I had read before. The slow unraveling of who the actual killer is occurs mostly in Chandlers head with the setting being crucial to the story. There is a lot I would like to discuss about this book, but I would hate to spoiler it for anyone - read it, come back and lets talk about it!I will say that I loved the setting. It is a brave author who sets their debut novel in a country that is not their own and that is exactly what Delargy has done. I can only assume that having visited Australia, he was impressed enough by it to set his first novel here. As I, too, love Australia I am obscurely flattered by that and I have to say he has done a fantastic job at getting the feel. There are a couple of little slips, of course, that an Australian will read and say to themselves 'hang on...' but I doubt if anyone but an Australian will notice. One is the use of the American colloquialism 'Sheriff' that is a bit odd, also the occasion where one potential serial killer blusters about suing the police, well, maybe, but this is not really a suing culture the way America is. Magistrates tend to be a bit leary of that sort of thing. Still, I will give Delargy the benefit of the doubt and say that the person had just watched a lot of American TV.Now a bit about the characters, our main character of course is Chandler, but if he is our hero then the main villain is not the serial killer (whichever one of the two men it is) but actually the inspector Mitch, whom Chandler was friends with as a kid but who has walked into Wilbrook with attitude, a team of his own and some serious animosity toward Chandler. The story is entirely from Chandlers point of view and the tension between the two makes for interesting character building options. The other character that is given a lot of time is Gabriel, again, no spoilers but I loved what the author did with this one. The ending. Well, it left me speechless and not many do that. At first I kept turning pages, thinking it was a printing error, that that could not possibly be the ending!Then I went away and thought that I hated it. Then I thought about it a bit more, decided I did not hate it but still didn't know what to think about it and I am in fact still thinking about it two books later. It was my intention to wait to write this review until after I had come to a conclusion about the ending.However, since that does not seem to be on the horizon I would like to thank Simon & Schuster for this free copy in return for an honest review. Also I would like to thank the author for the signed copy and for writing a smashing thriller which is making me think more than any crime fiction has for ages.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    55 by James Delargy is a crime thriller with an interesting premise - two men both reporting to be a victim of the other while claiming the other man is a self-professed serial killer.The novel opens with one man dragging his battered and weakened body into the police station, in a town of five thousand and supervised by Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, while claiming he has just escaped from the hands of a killer that told him he would be number fifty-five. Not long after that, a second man, similarl 55 by James Delargy is a crime thriller with an interesting premise - two men both reporting to be a victim of the other while claiming the other man is a self-professed serial killer.The novel opens with one man dragging his battered and weakened body into the police station, in a town of five thousand and supervised by Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, while claiming he has just escaped from the hands of a killer that told him he would be number fifty-five. Not long after that, a second man, similarly battered and worn, also appears and tells the same detailed story as the first man, while both men claim the other man is the serial killer. To add to the drama, a past colleague of Chandler's is flown in to head up the investigation. Obvious friction exists between the two men, with the friction being revealed through intervening flashback chapters. 55 is a decent thriller, however, for this reader, plotting issues caused some minor displeasure. For example, routine procedural police methods were not utilized (such as fingerprinting the two suspects right from the start to determine identity) and too often "inside policing" mythical practices that rarely occur were used (such as the use of vapor rubs to mask odors and vomiting investigators used to emphasize gruesome crime scenes - vapor rubs are not used because not only do they open up nasal pores, but they also mask other possible evidentiary odors).55 is a decent novel to read as time-killing escapism on a summer day.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    55 is a compelling mystery set in the harsh, remote outback of Western Australia. The searing heat and isolation of the small town of Wilbrook, which has been in decline since its mining industry collapsed, is vividly described. Its tiny police station has a claustrophobic feel, but there is little for the staff to do except settling domestic disputes and bar fights. The author, James Delargy, is not Australian, but lived and worked there, as I had, and the setting and characters were believable 55 is a compelling mystery set in the harsh, remote outback of Western Australia. The searing heat and isolation of the small town of Wilbrook, which has been in decline since its mining industry collapsed, is vividly described. Its tiny police station has a claustrophobic feel, but there is little for the staff to do except settling domestic disputes and bar fights. The author, James Delargy, is not Australian, but lived and worked there, as I had, and the setting and characters were believable. The premise was intriguing and original, and I was fascinated by his innovative approach. I can’t wait to see what he writes next. I was conflicted about my rating while reading this. It started out very strong, establishing the mystery and characters. At times I found it slow. I was not fully engaged at times in feeling the suspenseful events, especially when the two suspects were repeatedly interviewed and questioned, always giving identical answers. The conflict and dialogue between the local head of the police department and the outside Inspector was well done. But OMG, the ending! Mr. Delargy was very brave and twisted to go there. The jolting open-ending may alienate some readers and elevate it for others. It was so completely unexpected and shocking, it made the story even more memorable and left me shattered, even going back and rereading it several times. Chandler Jenkins heads the small police department. He dotes on his two children who are cared for by his parents while he balances his life between being a single father and his role as a police sergeant. He married a long gone younger woman who could not endure life in the Outback. One day a terrified man named Gabriel stumbles into the police station. His clothing is in tatters and covered with dried blood, and he has bruises, abrasions and other injuries. He says he was hitchhiking inland in the wilderness looking for work at a ranch or cattle station. He was abducted and chained in a remote shed by a man called Heath. He was told by Heath that he had killed 54 and Gabriel would be number 55. He managed to escape and fled to Wilbrook. Shortly afterwards, a man is arrested while trying to steal a car. His name is Heath, and the attempted theft was his need to flee from a man called Gabriel. Heath is frightened that Gabriel is following him and going to murder him after Heath escaped from a shed where he was imprisoned and shackled. He was told he would be number 55. Since the two men have exactly the same stories, which one is the serial killer, or is any of it true? Were they partners in crime who had a falling out? Some are wondering if they are collaborating on some far fetched scheme to write a book or to sue the police for misconduct. But they each seem terrified of the other. Why do both describe finding a site during their flight which contains approximately six graves? With very little clues to pursue, Chandler knows that he needs help from the regional police force. Unfortunately, this means bringing in Mitchell Andrews, a nasty, pompous man of driving ambition. He arrives with his team and takes over the station and investigation, placing Chandler in an insignificant and subordinate position. He constantly demeans Chandler and threatens to have him fired. We learn they were once childhood friends and rookie policemen who worked together on a search and rescue mission. Having different ambitions and personality, they had a falling out during the search. Mitch moved away to regional headquarters, where he progressed in rank and power.Mitch now degrades Chandler, who stayed behind. We get flashbacks to the relentless search years before. This is very much connected and relevant to the present mystery. Under Mitch’s direction, they look for the shack both men described. Chandler is desperate to keep himself involved in the investigation. On finding the shed in a burned out condition, only a few flimsy clues remain. From these fragile clues, Chandler is able to figure out in his head the perpetrator of the crime, and the very strange motive. Chandler becomes more assertive and Mitch less aggressive towards the end. But oh! The shattering conclusion which will remain in my mind for a long time.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    55 is James Delargy's incredibly accomplished debut thriller set in the Western Australian outback, and I had no qualms or issues with polishing it off in a single sitting as it was just so damn original and exciting. It's wholly absorbing and so completely addictive that once you pick it up you simply have to find out what happens, and the ending left me reeling, which rarely happens. It's taut, tense, pacey and very cleverly plotted with fascinating characters who are developed beautifully. Th 55 is James Delargy's incredibly accomplished debut thriller set in the Western Australian outback, and I had no qualms or issues with polishing it off in a single sitting as it was just so damn original and exciting. It's wholly absorbing and so completely addictive that once you pick it up you simply have to find out what happens, and the ending left me reeling, which rarely happens. It's taut, tense, pacey and very cleverly plotted with fascinating characters who are developed beautifully. The simmering Australian setting is a character in itself and the descriptions made me wish I was out there. Simple stunning and highly atmospheric.There are three different strands to the plot: who is telling the truth in terms of Gabriel and Heath, the rocky working relationship between Sergeant Chandler Jenkins and Inspector Mitchell Andrews and flashbacks throughout of the last time these two worked together and what happened to create such an intense rift between them. Each is engaging in their own way and my attention never wavered or waned due to that, and there are twists and turns aplenty. All of these aspects make this a thriller that will definitely feature in my top books of 2019.Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for an ARC.
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  • Gram
    January 1, 1970
    Two men arrive, separately, at the police station in Wilbrook a small town in a very remote part of Western Australia. First to arrive is Gabriel who is injured and covered in dried blood. He tells the police chief, Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, that he was picked up while hitchhiking before being drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains where he was tied up in chains. The man who took him was called Heath who said Gabriel was to be number 55 - his 55th victim. He managed to escape and made i Two men arrive, separately, at the police station in Wilbrook a small town in a very remote part of Western Australia. First to arrive is Gabriel who is injured and covered in dried blood. He tells the police chief, Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, that he was picked up while hitchhiking before being drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains where he was tied up in chains. The man who took him was called Heath who said Gabriel was to be number 55 - his 55th victim. He managed to escape and made it to Wilbrook. Jenkins takes his statement and has him put up in a local hotel from which he subsequently vanishes. Then a 2nd man is caught trying to steal a car and tells Chandler he is trying to escape his pursuer. At the police station, he claims he was taken by a man named Gabriel. This 2nd man says his name is Heath and that Gabriel told him he was going to be victim 55. Gabriel is the serial killer.Meanwhile, a squad of police has arrived in this small town in the back of beyond. They are led by Mitch, who is Chandler's boss and someone he's known since childhood. Somewhere along the way, Mitch and Chandler had a falling out and the two barely get by without constantly arguing and sniping at each other. Chandler thinks Mitch is more concerned with his image than with solving the case while the latter believes Chandler is a loser, stuck in a boring job in a hick town.Their animosity dates back to 2002 when, as young police officers who joined the force together, they were involved in the hunt for a missing teenager in the merciless wasteland which borders the town of Wilbrook.Now, they argue as to how to deal with the claims of Gabriel and Heath as to which one might be a mass murderer. This highly unusual crime thriller is very fast moving although the action does slow every few chapters as we go back in time to learn more of Chandler & Mitch's hunt for the missing teenager in 2002. The constant bickering between the two does get a bit wearing and, towards the end of the story, the plot does stretch credulity a little too far. Finally, in a thrilling finale, the story comes full circle. All in all, this is a fine debut novel from James Delargy.My thanks to Simon and Schuster UK and NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars. Great idea, but sadly I don't think the actual story lived up to it. And the ending was especially terrible.Started well, but went down hill, boring, didn't like ending. Hugely disappointed coz the idea was just great! After being given such a build up by the publisher, I was really looking forward to it, so I guess that's why it was so sad to dislike the last half.
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  • Raven
    January 1, 1970
    There is a real slew of solid Australian crime writing at the moment from the likes of Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, Chris Hammer et al, and although not of Australian stock himself, James Delargy has produced a clever, disquieting, and altogether compelling thriller set in the remote western Australian outback, that holds more than one or two surprises of its own…I think I can confidently guarantee that the very premise of this book, and the lengths that Delargy goes to in order to trick and wrong- There is a real slew of solid Australian crime writing at the moment from the likes of Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, Chris Hammer et al, and although not of Australian stock himself, James Delargy has produced a clever, disquieting, and altogether compelling thriller set in the remote western Australian outback, that holds more than one or two surprises of its own…I think I can confidently guarantee that the very premise of this book, and the lengths that Delargy goes to in order to trick and wrong-foot his readers, will catch you out at regular intervals. With two men under suspicion of being a remorseless serial killer, and their individual stories of being captured and tortured by said serial killer, Delargy manages to keep the narrative tension spread over, for what is a crime thriller, a remarkable stretch of time. This is no mean feat as there is a relatively slim cast of characters, with only one real other story arc, the tension between the Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, and the team that come in to takeover the investigation, headed up by an unwelcome face from his past, Inspector Mitch Andrews. I absolutely loved the conundrums that the seeming innocence of Gabriel and Heath, the two accused men brought to bear on the story, leading me to constantly re-evaluate the evidence that Delargy lays before us, perplexing the reader as much as the investigative team. Delargy is a real tease, as he consistently exposes pseudo Jekyl and Hyde aspects to both these men’s characters, and just as you fixedly decide on one’s guilt and the other’s innocence, guess what, you’re wrong. There is a real controlled and supremely well-measured pace to the book, so that the slightly slower passages where the men are interrogated, threatened or cajoled into professing their guilt, is punctuated by not only the backstory of the build up of animosity between Chandler and Mitch, but sporadic moments of nerve shredding tension, as the police mine for some credible evidence to prove the guilt of either Gabriel or Heath. Or neither. Or both. Or somebody else entirely…I liked the character of Chandler Jenkins enormously, with his integrity and seemingly natural fair-mindedness, which plays of beautifully against the power crazed narcissism of Mitch Andrews, former friend, now foe. The differences between the two men, which is brought to light as the sub-narrative of one of their earliest cases together plays out, makes for a rocky, testy and tension filled investigation, outside of their basic remit of bringing a killer to justice, and there’s some nice little twists and turns in their relationship along the way too. To be honest the other members of the investigation team didn’t make a significant impact on me, but with the book focussing so intently on the changing boundaries, and intensity of the exchanges between Chandler and Mitch, and their interactions Gabriel and Heath. There was more than enough angst, threat of violence and the whiff of testosterone to pretty much drown out the other characters, but not to any real detriment of the book overall.Thinking about the characters further, I think there is a nice correlation between them, and the environment and location, the book is set in. Set in the bleak expanse of remote western Australia, there is an intense feeling that although the landscape is sprawling and open, the vastness and aridity of it can conceal so much. Two of the characters, seem to reflect the openness and raw beauty of this hostile landscape, whereas two others seem to reflect the opposite, with their characters being altogether more dark and volatile. Despite being set in this endlessly repeating landscape, there is a significant sense of claustrophobia to the book, and the local police station becomes a microcosm of energy and pent up tension, that works exceptionally well to unsettle the reader, and the ending? Well, far be it for me to spoil the ending, but I think the author deserves more than a smattering of applause for not going down a certain well-worn path in thriller finales- so thanks for that- and loved the ending. I thought, bar a small period of the book, where the story slowed down just a wee bit too much, 55 was an extremely cleverly plotted, well-paced, and consistently engaging thriller with some nifty tricks in the narrative, solid characterisation of the main players, and suffused with the claustrophobic heat and isolation of its Australian setting. A compelling debut, and a recommended read.
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  • K.
    January 1, 1970
    Trigger warnings: torture, death, kidnapping, child abuse (in the past), sexual relationship between a teenage girl and a grown ass man (in the past), (view spoiler)[presumed death of a child (hide spoiler)]3.5 stars. The blurb instantly sold me on this one. Unfortunately, the book didn't QUITE live up to the heights that the blurb promised... I wanted to love this, I really did. And yet. Let's bullet point some stuff.- It felt pretty repetitive at times because it cut back and forth between Hea Trigger warnings: torture, death, kidnapping, child abuse (in the past), sexual relationship between a teenage girl and a grown ass man (in the past), (view spoiler)[presumed death of a child (hide spoiler)]3.5 stars. The blurb instantly sold me on this one. Unfortunately, the book didn't QUITE live up to the heights that the blurb promised... I wanted to love this, I really did. And yet. Let's bullet point some stuff.- It felt pretty repetitive at times because it cut back and forth between Heath and Gabriel telling the same story- Mitch was a massive bag of dicks and I wanted to punch him every damn time he was on the page- I guessed really early on that (view spoiler)[Mitch was going to be dating Chandler's ex (hide spoiler)]- Everyone could instantly tell where someone was from in Australia based on their accent, and......that's not how Australian accents work? I mean, I can probably tell if someone's from further north than I am, but that's about it? There's no way in hell I could distinguish between, like, Sydney and rural New South Wales as the characters in this book can apparently do. - There were frequent mentions of the woods/forest outside of town and Y'ALL. This is set in the Pilbara. Maybe it's just me, but mentions of woods/forest implies trees that are close together and a layer of leaf litter and vegetation on the ground, resulting in relatively limited visibility. My understanding of the Pilbara is more, like, 1 tree every 10-20 metres with low grasses and a fuck ton of red soil everywhere. And maybe people in the Pilbara WOULD call that woods? But I kind of suspect they wouldn't...- These two things combined made it super obvious that the author isn't Australian- The ending filled me with rage - This was nowhere near as gripping as I thought it would be- Sigh
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  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    I’m always wary of books claiming to have twists because usually I can see the “twists” from a mile off, but with this one I kept second guessing myself. It’s a really unique take on the thriller crime genre, not only in its location in the harsh Australian outback, but in that we have two men claiming to be the victim of a heinous kidnapping and attempted murder. Which one is it? Gabriel, Heath, both of them, none of them?55 is a slow burn with a solid pace. It flips between present day and fla I’m always wary of books claiming to have twists because usually I can see the “twists” from a mile off, but with this one I kept second guessing myself. It’s a really unique take on the thriller crime genre, not only in its location in the harsh Australian outback, but in that we have two men claiming to be the victim of a heinous kidnapping and attempted murder. Which one is it? Gabriel, Heath, both of them, none of them?55 is a slow burn with a solid pace. It flips between present day and flashbacks to a harrowing period in the protangonist’s past. Normally I don’t go for flashbacks and find they’re boring and ruin the book’s stride, but several times I found myself wanting the present day to go back to the past so I could find out more. That’s a first for me! The flashbacks ended up being devastatingly relevant, not only to show the history between Chandler and Mitch but also to bring the events in their lives full circle. The ending was shockingly gut wrenching and completely unexpected. Endings like that I expect in the genre I usually read, sci-fi, but usually crime thrillers are neatly tied up with a predictable bow at the end. I was fairly taken aback by this at first but the more I think about it, the more impressed I am with the bold ending the author chose. I hope they don’t change it when the movie comes out. I found myself really rooting for Chandler, especially with his rage and irritation at the way that pompous ass Mitch was parading around. God how I wanted Mitch to somehow be the killer as I was reading this. The only thing that really irked me about Chandler is here is this typical “good guy” single father that we’re supposed to like, but we find out the mother of his children was underage when they started dating. He was an adult, A COP, who went to break up an underage boozefest and instead he starts drinking with his future wife, only to get her pregnant a few months later. This episode is described nonchalantly and is quickly forgotten, which is even worse. In this day and age, why write this? It added nothing to the story and made me really dislike Chandler and the author for awhile. The Woody Allen stuff isn’t okay anymore (not that it ever really was).Assigning a star rating to this has been difficult, I kept going between 3 and 4 stars but I eventually landed on 4 because while I have some issues with the book, they haven’t really affected the overall impact it left on me. I have a feeling I’ll keep being drawn back into to this dark tale for quite awhile. Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for a chance to read this incredible debut in exchange for my review.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Outback Australian crime novels are most definitely the new black at the moment, and the premise for James Delargy’s 55 is a little different to most. Two guys, same story, one is the perp and one is the victim. Only with practically identical stories, it’s impossible to tell who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. One wicked set up right?! But, the thing is, the further into this book I got, the more I thought that I’ve come across this story before. Don’t get me wrong, some of it was very uni Outback Australian crime novels are most definitely the new black at the moment, and the premise for James Delargy’s 55 is a little different to most. Two guys, same story, one is the perp and one is the victim. Only with practically identical stories, it’s impossible to tell who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. One wicked set up right?! But, the thing is, the further into this book I got, the more I thought that I’ve come across this story before. Don’t get me wrong, some of it was very unique, but other parts - the cliche of a divorced cop father, fighting his ex-wife for child custody, an a*hole for a boss, the presumption that country police are slow and inept, thick dry heat of Australian bush and the quiet and slow death of a small country town, they’ve been done. The narrative style bugged me, we only ever got Chandler’s side of the story, and nothing about the actions and activities of the other characters, even though it is written in the third person. This left the other characters underdone, and lacking in any real depth. It is my opinion that first person would have worked better.Since we are on the narrative, the writing also bugged me. It was flat, emotionless, overwritten and full of unnecessary analogies that did nothing for the story, eg “stomach bulging over his trousers like an overheated pot of mishapen pasta” First part of the sentence is fine, the second part...huh? Okay, let’s do some positives. The story itself was pretty wicked, in both the traditional and colloquial sense of the word. And disturbing, in more ways than one, and don’t even with that ending! But unfortunately, there was too much tell and not enough show. Thank you to James Delargy, Simon & Schuster Australia and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Rural noir is a thing at the moment, which means some stellar entries in the category, and some not so good ones. Makes opening each new novel and settling in for the experience a bit of rollercoaster ride. So did 55 live up to the hype? Well yes, yes it did.It's an intriguing premise - a man stumbles into the police station in a small town, covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel and he claims he was hitch-hiking, looking for work, when he was picked up, drugged and restrained by iron chain Rural noir is a thing at the moment, which means some stellar entries in the category, and some not so good ones. Makes opening each new novel and settling in for the experience a bit of rollercoaster ride. So did 55 live up to the hype? Well yes, yes it did.It's an intriguing premise - a man stumbles into the police station in a small town, covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel and he claims he was hitch-hiking, looking for work, when he was picked up, drugged and restrained by iron chains in a small shack in the bush. His captor, known only as Heath, said he was to be victim number 55. As Gabriel is tucked away in a local hotel to recover from his ordeal, Heath walks into the same station. He claims he was hitch-hiking, looking for work, when he was picked up, drugged and restrained by iron chains in a small shack in the bush by a self-confessed serial killer by the name of Gabriel.That premise is particularly well delivered. With a slim cast of characters, and the identical testimony of two supposed victims, Delargy creates an impressive level of tension and forward momentum. There's a bit of help from the added complication of the big city cop who arrives in town to take charge of the investigation. He's a local boy moved on, and there's plenty of past history between Jenkins and Mitch, the background to which is teased out in a series of flashback stories set around the search for a missing man when they were both new police recruits. As the perspective switches between current day and that old search, the personas of the two combatants - Heath and Gabriel - shift as well. It's very hard to pick who is the victim and who is perpetrator.Now I will admit I did wonder at one point why it was taking so long for the search for the graves (and the hut) to commence, but that was well into the story, and serves as more of a testament to the levels of confusion, and the number of questions, that had arisen by then. For a book that moves around between timelines, and provides insights into the current and past personal life of Chandler Jenkins into the bargain, the pace, and the constant building of tension works incredibly well.Everything about 55 is supported by the creation of a really good central protagonist in Jenkins. Unsure who to believe, or how he is going to get to the bottom of this story, Jenkins is resolute, questioning, lacks confidence in his own ability, and struggles with the fallout from his divorce, care of his two young children and a slightly scratchy relationship with his own parents, whose help on the home front he relies upon heavily. He's a very real person, and his position in the town of his youth feels and reads perfectly right. The town itself is less focused on. It's remote, it's dusty, it's dry, it's small town outback Australia. Everybody knows everybody and everything is out for all to see, which makes the idea that there's been a serial killer lurking in the bush, that there are grave sites hidden away on a hill nearby, covered in wild bushland, mostly unknown territory even to long-term locals, intriguing.The setting here is open, vast and seemingly unending, yet there's hidden spots and areas. Whilst it's always possible to believe that nobody is ever totally off the radar no matter where they are, it's sobering to come across the sneaking possibility that there are places that people can disappear to. Alive and dead. What's really cleverly done is the way that there are echoes of place in the experience and attitude of the small cast of characters in this novel. Some, like Jenkins, are hiding in plain sight, others are hopeful, less inhibited by the restrictions and expectations, less overwhelmed by the vastness of landscape around them.There are also female characters in this book, but this is very much a male focused book, with the concentration mostly on two sets of battling men: Jenkins and his old colleague Mitch, and Heath and Gabriel. There's a level of testosterone driven madness in the first, and just flat out madness in the second. There are other supporting characters, in the police station, in the town, and at home, all of whom step back as the focus becomes more and more on these 4 men and whatever the hell the games are that they are all playing.Which it turns out, to be the whole point. 55 is a clever book about the dangerous games that these men are playing, and just what it is that makes them see the path, and not take King Lear's words to heart: O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;No more of that.
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  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    I’m always wary of books claiming to have twists because usually I can see the “twists” from a mile off, but with this one I kept second guessing myself. It’s a really unique take on the thriller crime genre, not only in its location in the harsh Australian outback, but in that we have two men claiming to be the victim of a heinous kidnapping and attempted murder. Which one is it? Gabriel, Heath, both of them, none of them?55 is a slow burn with a solid pace. It flips between present day and fla I’m always wary of books claiming to have twists because usually I can see the “twists” from a mile off, but with this one I kept second guessing myself. It’s a really unique take on the thriller crime genre, not only in its location in the harsh Australian outback, but in that we have two men claiming to be the victim of a heinous kidnapping and attempted murder. Which one is it? Gabriel, Heath, both of them, none of them?55 is a slow burn with a solid pace. It flips between present day and flashbacks to a harrowing period in the protangonist’s past. Normally I don’t go for flashbacks and find they’re boring and ruin the book’s stride, but several times I found myself wanting the present day to go back to the past so I could find out more. That’s a first for me! The flashbacks ended up being devastatingly relevant, not only to show the history between Chandler and Mitch but also to bring the events in their lives full circle. The ending was shockingly gut wrenching and completely unexpected. Endings like that I expect in the genre I usually read, sci-fi, but usually crime thrillers are neatly tied up with a predictable bow at the end. I was fairly taken aback by this at first but the more I think about it, the more impressed I am with the bold ending the author chose. I hope they don’t change it when the movie comes out. I found myself really rooting for Chandler, especially with his rage and irritation at the way that pompous ass Mitch was parading around. God how I wanted Mitch to somehow be the killer as I was reading this. The only thing that really irked me about Chandler is here is this typical “good guy” single father that we’re supposed to like, but we find out the mother of his children was underage when they started dating. He was an adult, A COP, who went to break up an underage boozefest and instead he starts drinking with his future wife, only to get her pregnant a few months later. This episode is described nonchalantly and is quickly forgotten, which is even worse. In this day and age, why write this? It added nothing to the story and made me really dislike Chandler and the author for awhile. The Woody Allen stuff isn’t okay anymore (not that it ever really was).Assigning a star rating to this has been difficult, I kept going between 3 and 4 stars but I eventually landed on 4 because while I have some issues with the book, they haven’t really affected the overall impact it left on me. I have a feeling I’ll keep being drawn back into to this dark tale for quite awhile. Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for a chance to read this incredible debut in exchange for my review.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsThis book just wasn't for me. Unfortunately a few things annoyed me fairly immediately - the formatting issues I experienced (words running together all the way through) and later on a couple of occasions, editing oversights, where the wrong word was used - which didn't make for a good reading experience overall. Without this frustration I may have had a different experience of this book and felt more kindly toward it. In terms of the actual writing / story I thought the premise was ver 2.5 starsThis book just wasn't for me. Unfortunately a few things annoyed me fairly immediately - the formatting issues I experienced (words running together all the way through) and later on a couple of occasions, editing oversights, where the wrong word was used - which didn't make for a good reading experience overall. Without this frustration I may have had a different experience of this book and felt more kindly toward it. In terms of the actual writing / story I thought the premise was very appealing but by the time I got about 75% through the book I was getting bored and started skimming - the is it Heath or is it Gabriel? to and froing was dragged out too much for my liking. I didnt really get the whole cause of the falling out between Chandler and Mitch - just a disagreement over a missing person search didnt seem dramatic enough to result in such a supposedly bitter (at least on Mitch's part) alienation. A lot of reviewers seem to be wowed by the ending, I didnt mind it but I have to admit I was just glad to get to it. Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read.
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  • Rowena Hoseason
    January 1, 1970
    This debut novel hooks us with a superb set-up… and then delivers an entirely different story.The blurb is brilliant. Two battered survivors crawl into town after enduring assault and exposure in the blistering heat of the Australian outback. Beaten and bruised, they both claim to be the kidnapped victim and say the other fella is a psycho maniac. Which of the two is telling the truth?Gripped by this inventive situation, I plunged straight in. But 55 suddenly steers away from this thread to focu This debut novel hooks us with a superb set-up… and then delivers an entirely different story.The blurb is brilliant. Two battered survivors crawl into town after enduring assault and exposure in the blistering heat of the Australian outback. Beaten and bruised, they both claim to be the kidnapped victim and say the other fella is a psycho maniac. Which of the two is telling the truth?Gripped by this inventive situation, I plunged straight in. But 55 suddenly steers away from this thread to focus on a lifelong rivalry between the two investigating officers, Chandler and Mitchell. Chandler stayed a small-town cop and is bringing up his two kids as a single parent, while the ambitious and obnoxious Mitchell chose a career in the big city. The two survivors are infuriatingly absent from most of the proceedings.So while I’d expected an intriguing intellectual duel between them, much of 55 focuses instead on an old case which originally divided Chandler and Mitchell. It’s about small-town life and the pain of parenthood, and looks deeply at the consequences of long-term loss. A valid narrative, to be sure, but not the one I thought I was reading!Author James Delargy writes with snappy panache with the story presented in short segments, easy to read rapidly. His version of a dry and dusty, scrubland community has the authentic sense of a place anchored in reality. I was less convinced by the plot convolutions, especially the whole numbers conceit.If you’re looking for hard-boiled ‘outback noir’ then you’re better off seeking out the razor-sharp, bitterly bleak books by Peter Temple – saturated in slang, written with searing literary style. But if you enjoy domestic dramas and unpredictable psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, then 55 might have your number.7/10There's a stack more reviews and recommendations for crime / thrillers over at http://www.murdermayhemandmore.net
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  • ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰Janeane ✰
    January 1, 1970
    Copy received from S & S Australia for an honest reviewWhat a gripping debut novel from James Delargy. I am on a bit of a crime/thriller kick at the moment, and the premise of 55 really intrigued me.Who really is 55?So many twists and turns, the reader along with the police were kept on edge, trying to figure out who really was the killer, why and where were all the other bodies.We are shown some things from the past, however I wasn't really sure what why at first, however as the story conti Copy received from S & S Australia for an honest reviewWhat a gripping debut novel from James Delargy. I am on a bit of a crime/thriller kick at the moment, and the premise of 55 really intrigued me.Who really is 55?So many twists and turns, the reader along with the police were kept on edge, trying to figure out who really was the killer, why and where were all the other bodies.We are shown some things from the past, however I wasn't really sure what why at first, however as the story continued I could start to put the pieces together.The synopsis hooked me, as I felt that this was a completely different spin on the genre (to me and what I have read anyway).There were 3 sides to this story - Heath's story, Gabriel's story and the truth. Each time I thought I knew who or why, a spanner was thrown into the works and I had to rethink.I don't like to say much about the endings of books, however with this one, I just have to say "how the heck can you do that to me?". I found myself turning the page, making sure that I hadn't missed a chapter in my haste to find things out. Nope, I hadn't. Well played, Mr Delargy, well played. Different, interesting and left me wanting more.I can't wait to see what he brings us next.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    This book had an interesting premise- two men claiming to have escaped from a serial killer. First one arrives at the police station in a remote Australian town- Gabriel who tells his story. However then Heath arrives and tells the same tale. Which one is the killer and which one the victim?The story is interspersed with flashbacks, to a time when Chandler, the local policeman and his current boss, Mitch were friends, young policemen involved in a hunt for a missing hiker.However, despite the in This book had an interesting premise- two men claiming to have escaped from a serial killer. First one arrives at the police station in a remote Australian town- Gabriel who tells his story. However then Heath arrives and tells the same tale. Which one is the killer and which one the victim?The story is interspersed with flashbacks, to a time when Chandler, the local policeman and his current boss, Mitch were friends, young policemen involved in a hunt for a missing hiker.However, despite the initial promise the book didn’t enthrall me. I found the interrupted narrative really slowed the novel down and I did not find the characters particularly compelling.I would have given 55 an extra star, particularly as the idea was a good one but the ending was incredibly annoying and really made me wonder why I’d read the book in the first place.In short it was a novel full of promise but it did quite not live up to expectation.Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    Western Australia. Vast. Remote. Alluring. It can be a hellish brute when not respected, its craggy features and unforgiving nature warding off all but the most determined, desperate or foolhardy.This baked terrain cooks up a delicious feast of confusion when two men deliver the exact same version of their horrendous experience. The only difference is: each accuses the other of being the maniac that held him captive for the purpose of being ‘number 55’. Well, anyone manacled in a remote shack co Western Australia. Vast. Remote. Alluring. It can be a hellish brute when not respected, its craggy features and unforgiving nature warding off all but the most determined, desperate or foolhardy.This baked terrain cooks up a delicious feast of confusion when two men deliver the exact same version of their horrendous experience. The only difference is: each accuses the other of being the maniac that held him captive for the purpose of being ‘number 55’. Well, anyone manacled in a remote shack could safely conclude that’s not a good thing.Both men display equal shock, fear and disbelief, which is a feat for even the most Oscar-worthy thespian. As their individual accounts are utterly convincing, you just can’t put your finger on who is the victim and who is the suspect.It doesn’t take long for doubt to leech into everything seen and heard. So who is telling the truth? Now THAT’s the million dollar question! As time ticked on I could only think that Wilbrook’s Police Sergeant, Chandler Jenkins, wished he could phone a friend – just not the one that answers.Frustratingly, this particular old ‘friend’ relishes every opportunity to get under the skin of the Sergeant. Their history results in repeated and unproductive sparring they neither have the time or resources for. Between the main action involving mirrored victims/culprits we visit mini narratives entitled ‘2002’ and begin to understand where this personal animosity originates, piece by haunting, dusty-red piece. Bursting with a fresh, curious plot that’s 110% compelling I found it impossible to tear myself away from this small, isolated community as they stumbled into a territory more hostile and unpredictable than any place on earth. LOVED IT.(I received a digital copy of this title courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley with my thanks, which it has been my pleasure to read and review.)
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