Dirt Creek: Book summary and reviews of Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor

Dirt Creek

A Novel

by Hayley Scrivenor

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor X
Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor
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About this book

Book Summary

In Hayley Scrivenor's Dirt Creek, a small-town debut mystery described as The Dry meets Everything I Never Told You, a girl goes missing and a community falls apart and comes together.

When twelve-year-old Esther disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels arrives in town during the hottest spring in decades and begins her investigation, Esther's tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find Esther and bring her home.

When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Esther?

Punctuated by a Greek chorus, which gives voice to the remaining children of the small, dying town, this novel explores the ties that bind, what we try and leave behind us, and what we can never outrun, while never losing sight of the question of what happened to Esther, and what her loss does to a whole town.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A heart-wrenching mystery, Hayley Scrivenor's remarkable sense of place brings Dirt Creek to life. A stellar debut." —Jane Harper, internationally bestselling author of The Survivors

"Dirt Creek is a remarkable debut, Hayley Scrivenor masterful in her deft handling of the tensions underpinning a small, regional town, and the complex characters that populate it. You will not be able to put it down." —Hannah Kent, internationally bestselling author of Burial Rights

"Beautifully written, compassionate, with an entirely credible but heart-breaking ending. A stunning debut." —Ann Cleeves, internationally bestselling author of the Vera Stanhope and Detective Matthew Venn novels

"Best crime debut in ages, Hayley Scrivenor is a major new talent. Page-turning, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching stuff. I can't remember when I enjoyed a book so much." —Erin Kelly, internationally bestselling author of He Said/She Said

"Broadchurch, but in a scorched, dying town in rural Australia. Immersive, sweeping, and superb." —Catherine Ryan Howard, bestselling author of 56 Days

"I loved this. What wonderful writing. Scarily good! ... Masterful. Australian crime has a new star. The characters of Dirt Creek are rich, raw and beautifully realized. One of the crime books of the year. Intelligent, nuanced and compassionate." —Chris Hammer, internationally bestselling author of Scrublands

"Dirt Creek gets under your skin. A gripping mystery told in authentic and innovative fashion, Dirt Creek will keep you engrossed. Hayley Scrivenor is an exciting new voice and an author to watch." —Adam Hamdy, bestselling author of Black 13

"Raw and intimate, Hayley Scrivenor unpacks small town life and its tragedies with heart and prowess." —Anna Bailey, author of Where the Truth Lies

"I loved it. Brilliantly written, evocative, and touching." —Charlotte Levin, author of If I Can't Have You

"Highly doubt I will read a better debut in 2022. Evocative, immersive, heart-breaking and ultimately hopeful. In a word, brilliant." —Sarah Hilary, winner of the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year

This information about Dirt Creek was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Suzanne G. (Tucson, AZ)

Great mystery
"Dirt Creek" is a mystery with an ending that I never guessed. The characters were many and often. Sometimes I'd have to revisit previous pages to put a character in its place. This book has such a rhythm with words, I often reread a part aloud just to hear how the words combined with one another. I liked the story very much.

Lynne S. (The Woodlands, TX)

Dirt Creek characters shine
Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor is a coming of age story wrapped in a mystery that kept me turning the pages. All of the characters are well developed, but I think the author has a special talent for making the reader feel the many different emotions of children on the brink of young adulthood.

Ronnie, Lewis and Esther were my favorite characters because the author was able to take me back to not only the fun and excitement of childhood, but also the boredom, uncertainty and anxiety of the time when you are trying to find your place in the world.

Ronnie worrying that her teacher will notice, and think less of her, because she traced the image of a llama, instead of freehand drawing, is one example of how delicate a child's sense of self can be. Anyone who has grown up in a small town will recognize the "landscape" of relationships where everyone is related by either biology, shared experiences or the shared culture of that particular town. I enjoyed the author's strong use of setting in her descriptions of the hot Australian summer and a bonus for me, being American, was learning some Australian lingo.

Melissa R. (Green Bay, WI)

Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor
First of all, I liked this book VERY much. I'm giving it 5 stars, which it deserves. This book was written by someone who knows how to write. I discovered this wit reading the first paragraph. More than once I have put down a book because the writing was inferior. Not this one. That first page will forecast all the good imaging and voice that is to come.
The development of the story and characters comes about easily. As the mystery unfolds, each character's perspective is given in individual chapters. This is not confusing, but rather solidifies the narrative as you put the pieces together. I liked the setting of Australia. The descriptions of places and use of Australian words were interesting.
I recommend this book to all, and I'm looking forward to Hayley Scrivenor's second novel.

Diane S. (Batavia, IL)

Dirt Creek
When twelve year old Esther goes missing on her way home from school, the whole town is impacted. Her single mother is devastated and her best friend Ronnie tries to find out what happened to her. In this small Australian town there are limited suspects, but putting the pieces together proves challenging. Many are harboring secrets and the detectives assigned to the case have theory after theory but a real suspect for a time proves elusive.

Heartbreaking in parts, a mother's anguish, this book gives us a look at how a missing child effects all in this town. What is unique in common plot, is that in between chapters we hear from a collective We, the children of the town. Their lives as and how Esthers disappearance has effected them. Even after the denouement the book continues to update the reader on what happens to those left behind.

This is a well done first novel and I'm hoping for many more from I'm hoping for many more from this talented author. If you like Jane Harper, I'm sure you'll like this.

Amy W. (Annapolis, MD)

Great Story
I highly recommend this debut novel from Haley Scrivenor. Told from various perspectives it is different from the typical child goes missing mystery story. The characters are well developed and intertwined as can only happen in a small town. The different narratives add to the story and work very well together to draw the reader in. 5 stars from me!

Jan B

Great work!
The title of this book caught my attention immediately and I was not disappointed! This is a great, well written story that kept me turning the pages. I liked the way the author created great characters and told the story from each perspective. I plan to read more books written by Hayley Scrivenor

...31 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Hayley Scrivenor Author Biography

Hayley Scrivenor is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. Dirt Creek is her first novel. Originally from a small country town, Hayley now lives and writes on Dharawal country and has a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Wollongong on the south coast of Australia. An earlier version of Dirt Creek was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won The Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Link to Hayley Scrivenor's Website

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