ALL THESE PERFECT STRANGERS
You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you. You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty of killing.
Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.
College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But you never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, Pen’s secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.
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A stunning debut. Sydney Morning Herald
This debut by an Australian novelist is unputdownable. Marie Claire
This is as much a treatise on class, gender, privilege and power as it is a crime thriller. That Clifford manages to convey all that via a gripping murder yarn is a testament to her skill as a writer. The Saturday Paper
A sparkling debut...This debut novel from an award-winning short-story crime writer paints a picture of death and betrayal across the sexually charged canvas of a first year on a university canvas...Tense, sparse and unmistakably Australia, the gripping plot challenges and subverts the notion of innocence until the very last page. Monocle Magazine
This is a brilliantly claustrophobic take on the unreliable narrator story, with an engaging mystery that unravels as the central character does. Debut author Aoife Clifford transports readers back to the late-eighties and early-nineties with her skilful use of dialogue and prose, never resorting to Bon Jovi or shoulder pad references; here, Australian small-town suspense meets a moment of youth sorely underrepresented in crime writing. Books & Publishing
This is Aoife Clifford's debut novel. It is taut, beautifully written and surprisingly sad. I highly recommend it. Ruth Wykes in Newtown Review of Books
This is a stunning debut novel from Aoife Clifford that fans of her short stories have been waiting for. Better Reading
In 2013 Aoife Clifford was awarded an Australian Society of Authors mentorship to help bring this novel to fruition. To be fair to those who have read it and are finding the idea that this is a debut novel hard to believe, she has form. Shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger, Clifford has won the Ned Kelly/S.D. Harvey Short Story Award and a Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto. What she has produced is an assured, clever and profoundly disconcerting psychological thriller. AustCrime Fiction
Suspenseful and taut, the dual storylines of past and present are revealed skilfully and with the assurance of a seasoned crime writer...In the hands of a less talented writer this complex and multilayered tale might not have engaged so throughly but in this case the author delivers -- and how. Good Reading
Clifford’s debut novel is full of strengths: her sense of place and time is delivered with the utmost clarity, the late ’80s is rendered in a way that brings on waves of nostalgia without resorting to cheap tricks (or references to Cheap Trick). The emotional intensity of starting university is made even headier by undercurrents of threat on campus that start as a game, then turn into something much more vicious. It’s a haunting read, a psychological thriller with loose threads picked at and unravelled chapter by chapter, from past to present, from truth to fiction and back again. This is one for anyone who wonders what really happens down those cobblestone paths on university grounds, or to what lengths people will go to protect their secrets. Readings
All These Perfect Strangers is a novel of disquieting intimacy and controlled suspense, Aoife Clifford deftly tightening the screws until we share the narrator's sense of emotional and physical confinement and the unremitting grip of the past.
With wit and sharp insight, Aoife Clifford delivers a wholly absorbing novel. She illuminates one of the most fraught and exciting periods in a person's life - the leaving of home and the beginning of university - and deftly reveals all of the on-campus nuances. From the friendships and the nastiness to the attractions and the menace. Set amidst a semester of simmering crime, this beautifully written tale follows the lives of the innocent...and the not-so-innocent.
Anna George, author of What Came Before
Combines the thrill of a great crime read with the poignancy of a coming of age novel...The Secret History meets The Year My Voice Broke. All These Perfect Strangers delivers as a compelling and convincing crime read, but it's the heartbreaking sadness of the story that lingers. Beautifully crafted, it is a remarkable accomplishment from a debut novelist.
Angela Savage, author of The Dying Beach
All These Perfect Strangers is a wonderful, gripping and compelling read that lingers long after the book is closed. Aoife Clifford creates a disturbing but compelling cast of characters, leaving the reader constantly guessing what's around the corner, and her cleverly woven plot shines a harsh spotlight on the question of whether the past can ever truly be left behind.
Jane Harper, author of The Dry
A compulsively readable mystery set on a college campus, with one girl at the heart of it all, All These Perfect Strangers is a seething conflagration of lies and betrayal that explodes to a shocking conclusion. I couldn't put it down! Carla Buckley, author of The Good Goodbye
Aoife Clifford has given us one terrific yarn. All These Perfect Strangers is tender and cruel, naïve and complex, hopeful and crushing. In other words, real to the broken and bloody bone. A phenomenal debut novel that will make you forget you have other things to do. Read this book and spend the next week captivated by our hero, Pen Sheppard. T.E. Woods