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The new outback mystery from Australia's authentic rural writer and voice of the bush Kerry McGinnis.

‘The Heartwood is the core of this district. It always has been so, but it’s still just a building. It’s your family – you and Adam and old Tiger – who animate it, keep the heart beating, so to speak.’

In the abandoned railhead town of Tewinga, now almost a ghost town, Lyn and Adam Portman struggle to keep the Heartwood Hotel afloat. Lyn loves her husband and longs to be a mother. But she’s kept busy caring for her elderly father, her community, and Max, the young worker who reminds her of the brother she’s lost and dearly misses.

When he fails to return from a day trip, Lyn’s concern deepens as the length of his absence grows, the more so with rumours of criminal activity at a nearby station. Meanwhile, a chance meeting uncovers a family bombshell that leaves Lyn reeling. The community must pull together as never before, proving that sometimes the smallest towns have the biggest hearts – and hide the darkest secrets.

From the bestselling author of Secrets of the Springs, this is the new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic rural writer and beloved voice of the bush.

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 2, 2018

    Michael Joseph

    368 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 2, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    368 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks


Chapter 1

Lyn Portman stood on the front steps of the Tewinga store shading her gaze against the morning sun, and watching with critical eyes the dust cloud that signalled the approach of a traveller. Early risers if they’d come from Goola, an hour’s drive to the south. Of course, if they were towing a caravan they might have camped along the way, but it was a bit unlikely. Most tourists were urbanites and there had been enough well-publicised murders along lonely outback roads to make people cautious about pulling up on the side of the track.

This lot then – would they stop? It amused her to speculate on travellers’ probable actions. For fuel? Or a drink at the hotel. Bit early for the latter but you could never tell. Maybe they’d be sightseers into the rusting history of the almost-ghost-town, keen to document a place they wouldn’t dream of living in – photographing the old cemetery, the few abandoned huts and the dilapidated railway station from which the steel rails curved off to nowhere. All that had survived the years was the tiny store, the newish campground down by the riverbank, and the pub.

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