The Silent Stockman: Coal Creek

Coal CreekCoal Creek by Alex Miller

Stockman Bobby Blue decides to take a job in Mount Hay as the new constable’s offsider. Daniel, the constable, his wife Esme and their two girls, Irie and Miriam, are new to the western country and, struggling to understand its inhabitants. They invite Bobby to stay in a hut on their property where he is educated alongside their daughters. Eventually there’s an abrupt and ruthless change in attitude from Daniel and Esme towards Bobby. When tragedy strikes at Coal Creek theconsequences will haunt Bobby for decades.

First Impressions: The narrator’s (Bobby Blue) tone was so wistful I almost felt like crying!

Highlights: This novel is quite slow moving but I was gripped by the final few chapters when there was a bit more action. I thought Deeds was an interesting character and maybe would have liked to see more of her.

If I was an editor: I know this novel is intended to be a slow burner – this no doubt reflects the pace of life in Mount Hay and similar outback towns – but for me it was too slow and Bobby’s thoughts were sometimes repetitive to annoyance. When I get down to it, the character of Bobby Blue irritated me with his simple outlook and sparing use of words. For instance, when Bobby and Daniel went out to hunt a criminal in the police vehicle, Bobby knew they wouldn’t be able to cross the creek and would need horses but as Daniel didn’t ask, Bobby didn’t illuminate him with this vital piece of information until they reached said creek. Aaarrrghhhh!

Overall: Speak up!

Coal Creek: 3 Stars

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