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Snake Island

Snake Island 1

by Ben Hobson
Publication Date: 05/08/2019
5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $24.25

The remarkable new novel from a rising star of Australian fiction

Vernon and Penelope Moore never want to see their son Caleb again. Not after he hit his wife and ended up in gaol. A lifetime of careful parental love wiped out in a moment.

But when retired teacher Vernon hears that Caleb is being regularly visited and savagely bashed by a local criminal as the police stand by, he knows he has to act. What has his life been as a father if he turns his back on his son in his hour of desperate need? He realises with shame that he has failed Caleb. But no longer.

The father of the man bashing Caleb is head of a violent crime family. The town lives in fear of him but Vernon is determined to fix things in a civilised way, father to father. If he shows respect, he reasons, it will be reciprocated. But how wrong he is.

And what hell has he brought down on his family?

Reading like a morality tale Western but in a starkly beautiful Australian setting, Snake Island is a propulsive literary thriller written with great clarity and power. It will take you to the edge and keep you there long after the final page is turned.

Contemporary fiction
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"Snake Island takes you to the limits of human emotion. A vivid, consuming dive into family loyalty, violence, and the hearts broken when the two collide."
Candice Fox, bestselling author of Crimson Lake

"A rollicking tale of crime, corruption, and vengeance."
Mark Brandi, bestselling author of Wimmera

"Remarkable. Ben Hobson's characters are deeply flawed, deeply human and beautifully realised. Part Western, part Greek tragedy, part morality tale - yet wholly original."
Chris Hammer, bestselling author of Scrublands

Ben Hobson

Ben Hobson lives in Brisbane and is entirely keen on his wife, Lena, and their two small boys, Charlie and Henry.

He currently teaches English and Music at Bribie Island State High School.

In 2014 his novella, If the Saddle Breaks My Spine, was shortlisted for the Viva La Novella prize, run by Seizureonline. To Become a Whale is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • This is a powerful follow up from a talented autho

    by on

    Snake Island is the second novel by Australian teacher and author, Ben Hobson. When his old friend, Reverend William Kelly brings news of his son’s condition, Vernon Moore realises his callous attitude has been remiss. Caleb was convicted and imprisoned for domestic violence, and Vernon and his wife, Penelope cut off all contact: they couldn’t forgive him for this behaviour.

    But jail time is one thing; being regularly beaten up with the tacit approval of the prison governor? That is another thing entirely. Vernon has to do something. His (perhaps rather naïve) solution is to calmly appeal to the father of the man meting out this punishment. Brendan Cahill has decided the formal punishment administered by the law is insufficient, and he will give Caleb what he really deserves for hurting his friend, Melissa.

    But his father, Ernie Cahill is a hard man who has turned from sheep farming to hydroponic pot growing and who deals with some ruthless Melbourne types to sell his product. He has the local cops in his pocket and, understandably, keeps a low profile locally. That first encounter with Vernon does not go well. And from there on, things go rapidly downhill. Vernon initially has little idea what he has brought down on his family and close friends.

    The plot crashes along like a train wreck, each act compounding those before it while the reader follows, enthralled, to the tragic climax. A collision with a roo, fists and boots and a cricket bat, and arson all contribute to the (not inconsiderable) toll of injuries while quite a lot of shooting sees a high body count by the final pages. This is not a gentle book.

    With his evocative descriptive prose, Hobson easily captures the era and the feel of country-town Victoria. His characters are multi-faceted and believably flawed. Their dialogue is authentic. Some make poor decisions when faced with moral choices, while others display a fierce loyalty that pays a terrible dividend. Several whose actions have been governed by fear or material gain find a conscience and draw a line under their corrupt behaviour.

    For all that, most are characters of some integrity who keenly feel their guilt and grief and remorse, who love their families in their own ways, even if their actions sometimes seem to belie that. The strength of this rural crime thriller is in the depth of these characters and their interactions. This is a powerful follow up from a talented author.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.