For a psychological thriller to maintain its tension and drama throughout the whole story, it has to be written in the best dramatic prose. This is certainly true of Bluebottle. The beginning of the story presents us with beautiful scenery and a seemingly happy family. They have just been shown a house on the cliff edge that their dynamic father has bought. It is the tight sentences and the words left unsaid that create the first inkling of fear.
The setting is around the Sydney beaches and the story begins on Christmas Day in 1994. We meet the family who slowly begin to emerge as characters with individual needs, overlapping the total family wellbeing. Dad is an unpredictable eccentric, who flirts cajoles and roars. His wife, Tricia, is slim, attractive and totally placating. Lou is the eldest child, and she is gorgeous, with blond hair and a tan, and a dedicated swimmer. She is Dad’s favourite. Jack is next. He dreams and paints and faints when he is stressed. Phoebe is the baby who lives in her own world for much of the time.
There is a growing sense of unease as we become involved in the family’s life. Things are not as they seem, and details are gradually released. Just before the family moved house, a teenage girl went missing. Charlie, or Dad, is fascinated by this and brings the subject up constantly. As we are beginning to see a pattern of behaviour by him, the story jumps quite a few years and we see the children as adults. There is still the sense of unease, as we don’t know what has happened to the parents. An old necklace has been found. It has the initial of the missing girl on it.
The narrator tells the story from everyone’s viewpoint, but Mum’s and Dad’s. The children (we return to their younger selves) are always on edge and unsure. It is not until the very end that the reader can unravel the plot and begin to relax. Descriptions of the steamy heat, the wonderful surf and the rock pool, make this a vivid, vibrant story, interspersed with trying to make sense of the suggestions and conversations all around. Young Phoebe, while walking on the beach one day, came across a bluebottle. It was seemingly innocent and so she touched it. This story begins in the same way, transparent, yet with a gripping sense of fear.
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|