An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

Ostensibly a small-town murder mystery, Emily Maguire's An Isolated Incident is primarily an examination of certain elements of modern Australian society that the author sees as misogynistic. The novel is premised upon the grief and anger bartender Chris Michaels experiences following the murder of her sister Bella in the town of Strathdee. The author’s major focus is highlighting what she sees as a media-driven sensationalising of murder when the victim is a beautiful young woman (a topical concern considering the recent revival of American TV series Twin Peaks, an archetypal example of stories of this kind). May Norman, a crime reporter from Sydney becomes one of the main players in the novel, as Maguire uses her character to explore issues surrounding the media’s arguably ruthless chasing of eye-catching headlines, often, the novel argues, with little regard for the well-being of the victim's family. 

While readers expecting a who-dun-it may be disappointed, if one treats the book more as a social critique, there is a lot to be said for the way in which the author dissects the differing layers of sexism that she sees ingrained in Australian society. Maguire uses a backdrop of murder and sexual assault to draw attention to the more common types of misogyny like workplace harassment and gender-based verbal condescension. An Isolated Incident is a novel that's easy readability belies the seriousness of its themes.


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