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Six Minutes

Six Minutes 1

by Petronella McGovern

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/07/2019

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $22.35

An unputdownable thriller for fans of Liane Moriarty and Caroline Overington. If you were gripped watching The Cry, you'll be hooked on Six Minutes.

How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?

One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.

Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella's disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room? What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?

The clock is ticking...

This gripping novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
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Petronella McGovern

Petronella McGovern works in marketing and communications, and has written two non-fiction books. She grew up on a farm near Bathurst, New South Wales.

This novel was inspired by her time living on the edge of Canberra, when her children's playgroup became a soure of support and friendship.

Petronella now lives in Sydney, with her husband and two children, in a house backing on the bush with wallabies in the garden. Six Minutes is her first novel. Her new novel, The Good Teacher, will be published in 2020.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • an outstanding debut novel

    by on

    Six Minutes is the first novel by Australian author, Petronella McGovern. There are four other mothers and several children at the play group when Lexie Parker steps out for six minutes to buy some biscuits, but when she comes back, three-year-old Bella is gone and no-one has seen her leave. They all take a thorough look, but there aren’t many spots Bella could possibly be, so within minutes they call the police. Paediatrician Dr Marty Parker immediately drops his appointments to join in the search for his daughter.

    If Lexie Parker is frustrated with the way the Police are handling the search for her daughter, DS Gabe Caruso might well be feeling something similar regards the witnesses: as expected, what the young children say can’t be regarded as reliable, but the mothers, even Lexie, are all disappointingly vague. Not helping the situation is that a large contingent of police are busy at Parliament House trying to manage the unruly protests over the imminent voluntary assisted death legislation.

    As the whole of this tightknit little Canberra community pitches in to search for the little girl, a distraught Lexie tries to remain positive, believing that Bella will soon be found, clinging to the mantra “any moment now”. But as one day turns into more, and searchers come up empty, the conclusion that Bella has been abducted looks more and more likely.

    One of the mothers, while displaying concern for the toddler, is displaying equal concern for the number of likes her Facebook posts about Bella are getting. And taking pleasure in sharing confidential information about Lexie’s family to make herself feel important. Is this how friendship is defined in this day and age? Meanwhile, others seem intent on absolving themselves of any blame. And everyone has secrets, things they are hiding, not the least Lexie and Marty, and they should be well aware that the Internet never forgets.

    McGovern uses five narrators to tell the story: each of Bella’s parents, one of the mothers from the play group, a police detective and a teacher at the local school. These perspectives are supplemented with the text of Facebook posts, Webpages and blogs; some of these convey information or appeal for help; others expound wildly outrageous and largely baseless theories, or air vitriolic opinions. The occasional thoughts of an anonymous observer complete the picture.

    McGovern easily conveys the emotion that accompanies trauma such as that described. She also deftly demonstrates the power of social media, both benign and malicious. Her characters are believable and communities like Merrigang exist all over Australia. The topic of euthanasia is touched upon, as is the murky issue of responsibility in this sort of casual community situation.

    There are plenty of red herrings to distract the reader from settling on just who has taken little Bella, and even when that becomes apparent, the reason, and the race to rescue her will keep the pages turning. This is an outstanding debut novel and it will be interesting to see what McGovern does next.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.