Confluence by Gemma Chilton

When he gets the call that his mother is sick, Liam decides to return home to the small, coastal town where years before, his father went missing under strange circumstances. Is Liam finally ready to face his grief head on and find answers about what really happened that night?

I often don’t take on self published books for review anymore, but I really love Australian fiction and writers, and the premise of this one really intrigued me. There are some really great, gripping crime stories coming out of Australia, and I love them. (And, of course, I’m Australian!) This book took me by surprise a little bit because while it is a mystery about a father who goes missing and a son finding answers, and that mystery aspect is very satisfying, it’s also a bit more than that. I think you could call this kind of story Australian Gothic, because there’s a sense of uncovering secrets, different family generations involved and the way nothing is forgotten in a small town. The book explores not just what happened, but the looming shadow of the things families don’t talk about and the way that grief and not having closure around that can keep you stuck, or make your life take on entirely new and unexpected direction. It also shows different family members coping with this loss, Liam, his mother, the town at large, who can’t forget the mystery. I think this was really smartly done. The book could have been just a crime story but the way the author really explores grief and loss, the humanity of it, not the commercial, superficial performance of it, really makes the book something a bit different.

In tone, the book is quite raw and down to earth. The dialogue in this book is very natural and real, and the way people interact with each other feels realistic. Loosely, the book alternates between Liam in the present and the past, either from his perspective or his fathers. I liked the way that because his father went missing when Liam was a child, he doesn’t entirely see his father as a man, but as his personal hero or someone he looks up to. He’s locked into that understanding of his father because he never knew him as an adult. But in reality, sometimes his father was not the most reliable person or not the perfect husband, for example.

Without giving away anything, plotwise, the book doesn’t shy away from some sex and some more serious themes. It’s not grotesque, but it if you like a more squeaky clean story, this isn’t a cozy mystery. It isn’t always cute. (Australian stories often aren’t). But as a mystery and an exploration of a family shattered by and locked in grief, it’s a very entertaining read.

Read It If: with it’s central mystery, this book will please crime readers or lovers of domestic thrillers. The depth of the characters and the Australian setting make it something a little different.

Thank you to the author for the copy of this book for review. You can find Confluence on Amazon or find out more at


One thought on “Confluence by Gemma Chilton

  1. Nice review, it sounds like confluence is deeply layered and that’s not an easy thing to do well. But grief woven into life stories makes a lot of sense. Do you think there are places this book could have pushed more? Missed opportunities?
    As always, enjoyed your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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