In Warwick, a mystery/suspense novel, author Boby Beavers takes readers to the dusty, tight-knit Australian town bearing the same name.
Detective Frank Willow is a no-nonsense detective who knows his town like the back of his hand. While others go about their daily lives taking no notice of the world around them, Willow trusts his gut to alert him to any changes, no matter how small, to the usually peaceful vibe. It’s this intuition that leads him to investigate the mysterious and genial clown who shows up to children’s parties, parks, and town festivals unannounced, then disappears into the wind. Willow isn’t sure what he’s looking for: cattle thieves, drug dealers perhaps, but he knows for sure that whatever it is, the clown will lead him to it.
Warwick is described as a town where “everyone knows everyone else,” but while the clown has been seen in town for several years, there’s no mention of why no one in such a close community has bothered to find out who the clown is, where the person is from, or what brought the clown to Warwick in the first place. (Although the back cover offers a reason, it isn’t clear in the actual story.)
Willows is a well-rounded, if familiar, character (think Columbo meets Inspector Wallender). We get to know his wife, his coworkers, his work ethic, etc. The question, however, of why the clown interests him so intensely is never fully addressed. Additionally, each character’s voice is indiscernible from the narrator’s; this is further complicated by Beaver’s untagged dialogue. At times, the only way readers know who is speaking to whom is when one character calls the other by name.
Formatting issues are also a problem: Warwick contains no chapters, creating a daunting text that leaves readers without intermittent visual breaks.
With a challenging format and overlooked loose ends, Warwick offers little to stir the reader’s imagination.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.