Lapse (Text Publishing, 2019) is set in the sleepy country town of Katinga, where protagonist Clementine Jones is coaching the local AFL team to glory while she wrestles with some dark, dark secrets from her shady past.
Her team, the Katinga Cats, is having its most successful season in recent history, much to the surprise and delight of the local residents. The boys are well on their way to their first Grand Final in 34 years, but when star player Clancy Kennedy unexpectedly quits the team just weeks out from finals season, Clementine is left looking for answers.
Her world begins to unravel as she searches, discovering simmering racial tensions, grimy criminal conduct and sleazy corporate cover-ups, and as she digs deeper, Clementine begins to slip into a few ethical grey zones herself in her quest for justice for Clancy and the chance to redeem herself personally.
I’m going to be honest – I spent the first quarter of this book rather frustrated, because talked quite a lot about AFL, which I refuse to learn about (NRL for life). But at the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to put it down, because it was an incredibly compelling story.
I enjoyed the illustration of Katinga, especially the crispness of living a fairly solitary existence in a wintry landscape. Thornton truly excels at the fast-paced action scenes, both on the field and off, making for very exciting reading. I also really enjoyed how the reader was given a window to Clementine’s very deliberate, calculated manipulations of circumstances and people, especially her quick-witted lies to get where she needed to be. This element was satisfying and kept the narrative fresh and fast-paced, all the while keeping a steady hand on the ship. Thornton was also adept at contextualising the narrative politically, especially when it came to wealth inequality and racial discrimination and harassment.
I felt like the novel did occasionally drift over into ‘White Saviour Narrative’ territory when it came to Clementine’s quest to save Clancy, who is Indigenous Australian, however space is provided within the story to unpack the confronting, pervasive racism of some of the White residents against the Indigenous residents, and Clementine’s uncomfortable and imperfect response to that overt racism – while she tries to maintain her professional demeanour and team unity – makes for very thought-provoking reading.
Lapse is available in all good book stores now.
Thank you to Text and Netgalley for the providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.