Pheasants Nest - Louise Milligan - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Louise Milligan one of Australia’s bravest, most committed journalists, and somehow – in between uncovering the lies and crimes of Cardinal George Pell, and exposing the horrendous secondary trauma experienced by victims coming forward – she’s found the time to write her first ever work of fiction, Pheasants Nest. The wonderful team at Allen & Unwin were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

Firstly, and most importantly: the absence of an apostrophe in the title is not an error. It’s deliberate, and addressed in the first chapter.

Now, on to the story: Milligan doesn’t stray too far from the old maxim of writing what you know. Pheasants Nest is “a stunning and surprising thriller” about a journalist who is kidnapped, and finds herself living out the worst-case-scenarios she reports on the news.

If you didn’t already know that Milligan is a journalist, you would from the prose in Pheasants Nest. It reads a lot like an extra long-form narrative report, in tone and style. A lot of the story is revealed through memories and flash-backs, but Milligan does an excellent job at keeping the story pacy and not drawing it out unnecessarily.

While I can’t speak to the accuracy of its depiction of the work of journalists or the experiences of kidnapping victims, I can confirm that Pheasants Nest gets the ‘small town’ feel of Australia exactly right. Everyone knows someone who knows someone, and in this story it feels very natural and relatable, rather than conveniently coincidental or contrived.

As much as the world needs Milligan’s investigative journalism, I selfishly hope she keeps writing fiction. Pheasants Nest portends great things to come.

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