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.
Who's lying about what happened at Dirt Creek?
“Blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural…Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper won’t want to miss this page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances.” —New York Times Book Review
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.
About the Author
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 An earlier version of Dirt Creek was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won The Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.
“A novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances…politically savvy, cleverly plotted.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Thrilling and atmospheric … Hayley Scrivenor’s debut novel is a vivid, slow burn that unravels the baffling disappearance of 12-year-old Esther.”
“Scrivenor’s stunning debut blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural…Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper won’t want to miss this page-turner.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The book brims over with head-spinning and mind-bending surprises. It will draw the inevitable comparisons to Jane Harper’s The Dry, but it proceeds boldly under its own unique power. A brilliantly crafted debut.”
—Booklist, starred review
“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
“The best first novel I’ve read in years. It is a beautifully written character study of small town Australia and what happens to it as the town is torn apart by a vanished child…This powerful novel…is one that will stay with the reader long after the covers on the book are closed.”
“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
“I read Dirt Creek in one sitting because of Scrivenor's excellent writing, fascinating plot, and no-nonsense female Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels.”
“This year brings something wholly unexpected: the rise of queer rural noir…Powerful.”