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Only Killers and Thieves

A Novel
Narrated by: David Linski
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel - a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia - reminiscent of Philipp Meyer's The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, 14-year-old Tommy and 16-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them - their former Aboriginal stockman - the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father's former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the "dispersal" of indigenous Australians to "protect" white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life - and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Re-creating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer's The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire's The North Water.

©2018 Paul Howarth (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story set in the wilds of Australia

Well written and great narration. Two brothers Billy and Tommys world is shattered and they join in with a nasty bunch for revenge. But it's not straight forward. Really enjoyed this.

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  • RueRue
  • 31-05-18

Slow build to a powerful story

I would describe this a a very deliberately-paced story, and that is meant as praise for the author's ability to establish the settting and characters. The writing is almost cinematic - I could visualize the scenes so clearly ( be forewarned, there is horrific violence, vividly discribed, so this isn't for the faint-hearted). The story is somewhat predictable, but this is a morality tale, not a tale of suspense. I thought the ending was poignant and haunting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rick
  • 26-06-19

The West Down Under

“Death is inevitable. Regardless, it comes. A man walks to the gallows and never thinks to try and run. Stands obediently while the bag is draped and the noose is hung. Waits patiently for the trap door to fall.”

On this uplifting note, Paul Howarth launches a grim story of drought and hardship in the Australian outback of the 1880s. It is a deeply textured description of time and place, and a wrenching plot involving murder, racism and treachery as two boys come of age, faster than they would have liked.

The book is certainly reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” and the coldblooded Inspector Edmund Noone could be the reincarnation of McCarthy’s Judge Holden. The story unreels slowly, but relentlessly, and in the last two hours builds to a memorable conclusion. David Linski’s narration is authentic, subdued, and perfect for the tone of a tragic account of a frontier existence that carries echoes of the American West.

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  • Tom
  • 02-04-19

how hum

not too sure if it was the story or the manner in which it was delivered. This author is so far from the prose of Cormac McCarthy I can't believe someone had the audacity to make this comparison, oh well... how hum.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-03-19

Must read!

Wow kept thinking this would be an awesome movie!! Characters were so uniquely interesting and story moved smoothly and held our interest to the end. Narration was superb as well!

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  • oblio-n-arrow
  • 07-02-19

Tremendous Story

Loved every sentance. Riveting, human and characters that are real. excellent. This story will part of many libraries.

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  • Mila Dunbar
  • 18-01-19

very so-so

entire plot uncovered in the first chapter or two, then there's nothing left to find out.

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  • Bubba
  • 14-11-18

Blood Meridian for the southern hemisphere.

Paul Howarth has envisioned a view of colonialism that's right at home with current models of politically correct movements across the west. Apart from it's rather one sided and largely incorrect account of the settlement of Australia; which we allow him for this work of fiction, the novel is solid.
What is most striking is his accomplishment in the character of inspector Noon, a looming, almost mythical character moving through the land like a reincarnation of McCarthy's, Judge Holden or Kurtz of Conrads Heart of Darkness.

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  • Aaron
  • 16-05-18

Australian Blood Meridian

Well deserved 5 stars. This story is excellent, but this Narrator is over the top. Noon is one of my all-time favorite audiobook characters now. This read is savage man. I couldn't help feeling the same way I did while reading Mcarthy's "Blood Meridian". Just pure, open-mouthed disgust at the situations portrayed. In a good way. I loved this one. I now have an interest in Australian history. Check it out, you'll like it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-04-18

more like Django Unchained than The Son

Really cool to see a western set in Australia.

I read this because it was billed as being similar to the Son by philip meyer. not really on the same level.

good story, good characters, great setting. the issue I had with it was the comic book quality of the antagonists. the bad guys in this book are exactly that....bad guys. they do evil things for evil reasons and have none of the nuance or relatability that a believable antagonist needs. at times this novel felt like a children's book. overall I'd recommend it but believe that this novel could have been so much more than what it is.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • K. Udall
  • 20-02-18

Eye opening, moving, bleak but touching

I loved this book. People will make obvious comparisons to McCarthy and those aren't wrong. The narration was also great.