What attracted me to this book was that it’s something different from what I usually read. I wanted to challenge myself and discover a new genre to see how I will perceive it.
The year is 1885, the location Queensland, Australia where racial tensions and land-owning have become big issues. We meet Tommy and his brother Billy who live with their parents and sister Mary on land which their father takes care of, they live a somewhat normal life but all that is about to change when coming from horse-riding they find their parents dead in their own home. Their sister Mary is injured so they decide to take her to John Sullivan, a wealthy land-owner, in seach of help. Both brothers want to find out who murdered their parents and why so they seek help from Sullivan who brings in the mysterious Inspector Noone and they begin their journey.
I have to admit that I have struggled with the first hundred pages of this book because the author went on to describe the lives of both Tommy and Billy into great detail which I didn’t find that necessary – having said that I would’ve cut the book by at least 60-80 pages. I waited for something interesting to happen and by the page one-hundred-and-something I have been revived and sucked into the wild world of both brothers in Queensland. From that point the story became much more interesting but I still felt that it dragged at times with a few details. From page two-hundred the story becomes so compelling that you can’t stop reading because you want to find out more and more. I didn’t feel for most of the characters because they weren’t good people but I did have a soft spot for Tommy, who was kind and intelligent. I love how the author created the ‘drifting apart’ of the two brothers and exactly that enriched the story even more. It’s the 19th century so we see the racial tensions and how awfully people of colour were treated and I have to admit that reading these parts was hard because even though this story is fictional, these things happened in real life. The conclusion to this book was satisfying but a bit melancholic. Even though this is a debut you can see that the author has great skills and great imagination.
Only Killers and Thieves is a story about two brothers who, struck by deaths of their parents, enter a very dangerous world and begin to drift apart from each other set in the 1885’s Queensland, Australia.
I would like to thank the publisher (Pushkin Press) for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.
Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family.
In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.