Book review: Wimmera by Mark Brandi


In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man’s shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.


Trigger warnings written in white, highlight to view them > suicide, child (sexual) abuse, incest, domestic abuse

I was in the mood for an exciting thriller and I decided to pick this Aussie fiction up. Instead of something fast paced and perhaps a little silly, I was met with something dark and bleak.⁠

This isn’t the standard thriller crime novel that piece by piece uncovers and tries to solve a mystery. At it’s heart, this is a coming-of-age about the strength of boyhood friendship and the impacts of hidden traumas. ⁠

Brandi does a brilliant job at creating realistic characters. Especially our two main characters, adolescent best friends Ben and Fab, whose stories beautifully intertwine between each of their lives.⁠

The story in this is relatively straightforward, there aren’t really any parts that you don’t see coming, so if you’re more of a plot driven person, this book might not be for you.⁠

This one was a slow build through the actions of the characters, and ultimately, I think it ended too quickly. It’s told in 3 parts, the last of which could have been better fleshed out as it’s finally where we hear the full story of what happened in Ben and Fab’s childhood.⁠

I feel like I haven’t said too much in this review, but I honestly think this is the kind of book that’s better read without knowing much of the story. This one is published as ‘Into the River’ outside of Australia.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Book Details:

Pages: 272
Edition Published:
2017, Hatchette Australia
Genre: Mystery, Fiction
Goodreads Av. Rating: 3.74

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