Ghost Child – Caroline Overinton

Caroline Overington’s stunning fiction debut is a multi-voiced novel centred around a child’s death and its terrible repercussions.

In 1982 Victorian police were called to a home on a housing estate an hour west of Melbourne. There, they found a five-year-old boy lying still and silent on the carpet. There were no obvious signs of trauma, but the child, Jacob, died the next day.

The story made the headlines, and hundreds attended the funeral. Few people were surprised when the boy’s mother and her boyfriend went to prison for the crime. Police declared themselves satisfied with the result, saying there was no doubt that justice had been done.

And yet, for years rumours swept the estate and clung like cobwebs to the long-vacant house: there had been a cover-up. The real perpetrator, at least according to local gossip, was the boy’s six-year-old sister, Lauren….

Twenty years on, Lauren has created a new life for herself, but details of Jacob’s death begin to resurface and the story again makes the newspapers. As Lauren struggles with the ghosts of her childhood, it seems only a matter of time before the past catches up with her.

Listening Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes. Narrator: Tai Hara, Zindzi Okenyo. Audible Release Date: 7 Dec 2021

Caroline Overington

Caroline Overington is an Australian author and journalist.

She has worked for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is is currently a staff writer for The Weekend Australian Magazine.

Caroline is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism. She won her first Walkley for a series of articles about a literary fraud, and her second for a series about the AWB oil for food scandal.

She is also a winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for excellence in Journalism; and of the Blake Dawson Prize.

Caroline has published five books. Her first, Only in New York, was about working as a foreign correspondent in Manhattan.

Her second, Kickback, was about the UN oil for food scandal. It won the Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature.

Her first novel, Ghost Child, is about a child murdered by his parents.

Her second, I Came To Say Goodbye, takes the form of a letter from a grandfather to a Supreme Court judge. It was shortlisted for both the Fiction Book of the Year, and overall Book of the Year, in the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Her latest novel, published in October 2011, is called Matilda is Missing. It is set in the Family Court, and it is about a couple’s war over custody of their two year old daughter, Matilda.

Caroline’s books are proudly published by Random House Australia.

Caroline is a mother of delightful, 11-year-old twins. She lives with her kids, her husband, a blue dog, and a lizard, in Bondi.

My Review

There’s nothing I enjoy listening to more than true crime stories or podcasts so when I found Ghost Child on the Audible Plus Catalogue (free audible books for members) I downloaded it and began to listen.

This is Caroline Overton’s debut novel which is based in Melbourne, Australia and centres around the tragic death of a 5 year old boy called Jacob. Set in the early 80’s in a housing estate, the mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of murder and the story sent shockwaves around the world.

Ghost Child deals with the aftermath of this tragic event, focusing on the siblings of Jacob and how they coped having been split up and fostered out at a very young age.

With a huge cast of narrators, the awful truth about Jacob’s death is told through the police detective, social workers, foster carers, doctors and the family themselves.

It’s a wonderful work of fiction that seems real throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the various voices retelling their versions of events.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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