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TROPPO BY MADELAINE DICKIE

PUBLISHED BY FREMANTLE PRESS
REVIEW BY KRISTY KYI

Troppo was the winner of the 2014 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award and it’s easy to see why. This novel is a compelling read from start to finish.

Based in Indonesia, a location so familiar to many Perth readers, Dickie skilfully creates a feeling of mystery and intrigue right from the beginning and it only intensifies as the book progresses.

The story follows Penny, a young woman from Perth who has travelled to Sumatra to escape her hometown and a relationship that is stifling her adventurous nature. She arrives in Indonesia keen for adventure – but in taking a job at a local surf resort she may be in for more than she bargained for.

Penny’s new boss, Shane, has a nasty reputation around town. Initially she tries to give him the benefit of the doubt. She puts it down to village gossip, preferring to focus instead on the benefits of the job, the life experience she’s gaining by being away from Perth, and her growing relationship with Matt, a fellow Aussie surfer living in Indonesia. As time passes, Penny begins to see more and more of the version of Shane that she hears the locals talk about and finally decides she needs to escape – but is it too late?

I found this story interesting for so many reasons. You could describe it as a mystery/thriller, but it’s also very much about relationships – about trusting people and sometimes being let down once we get to know them for who they really are.

Dickie has a beautifully descriptive way of writing and really pulls you into this world of surfing, mystery and black magic. She has real insight into the often tenuous relationship between the locals and the “bules” (Westerners) which is no doubt due to the fact that she has travelled extensively and lived in Indonesia while writing the book. Although it isn’t the type of story I normally choose to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to most.

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.