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Book Review: The Unearthed

Updated: Feb 21

The Unearthed by Lenny Bartulin

(Reviewed by Kate Jackson @kate_thebooklover)




Tasmanian-born Lenny Bartulin is the author of five books and his latest, The Unearthed (Allen & Unwin), is the first of his I’ve read. I was drawn to the setting of the story in my own locality, as well as the fact that I enjoy a good mystery. Set mainly on the West Coast of Tasmania, in and around the townships of Strahan and Queenstown, there were some very familiar places mentioned throughout this book, like Hamer's Hotel in Strahan and the gravel football oval in Queenstown, giving the story a strong grounding and sense of atmosphere. Initially, on finishing the book, I had the strange feeling of not being sure what I thought, but the more I mulled it over, the more I feel it was actually cleverly done. It included several mysteries to be solved and, unlike crime novels I have read in the past, they aren’t solved in the traditional sense, almost allowing the reader to form their own conclusions. This book will make you stop and reflect on what you have just read. Told from multiple points of view and jumping between various timelines in the present day and 1950s, each part of the story reveals pieces of the mystery.

When bones are found in the Tasmania wilderness, one of the main characters, Antonia Kovács, discovers through her work at FSST (Forensic Science Services Tasmania) that they are decades old.

She has questions for her father, a now retired Police Inspector who had been stationed at Queenstown around the time, so she heads home to where he is now enjoying a quiet retirement in the harbourside township of Strahan.

Meanwhile, Tom Pilar the other main character in the book, receives an inheritance. It’s from a man belonging to his past, a friend of his father's, though Tom can barely remember him. He travels from the mainland to Queenstown to get a better understanding of why he was receiving it. I felt the author's description of the drive from Hobart to Queenstown was spot on!

There are flashbacks where we meet some post-war migrants and locals working in the mines. It’s through these flashbacks that the mysteries begin to unfold.

I found it interesting how the mysteries were revealed, laughing to myself when I realised the clues I had clearly missed. I certainly won’t be a detective anytime soon! I enjoyed the local references; I could tell that the author had spent time in and around the areas described in the book. There has also been some extensive research undertaken into the lives of the migrant workers of the area in the early/mid 1900s.

At 274 pages you can easily devour this in one sitting. The Unearthed was released in Australia on August 1st by Allen & Unwin, in paperback, e-book and audio.

Kate Jackson is a prolific bookstagrammer and you can follow her reviews and snippets of life on Instagram @kate_thebooklover

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