by Glenna Thomson

Publisher: Bantam 2024

Publisher’s blurb

Gone is a gripping rural crime novel of a grieving family and their forty-year journey to discover the truth.

A missing girl … a cold case … a sister who won’t give up …
‘I was there on the day Rebecca disappeared. I watched her hurry away. If I close my eyes I can still see her…’

When Rebecca Bundy fails to return home after the last day of school in 1984 her father reports her missing. But the teenager has run away before and recently she’s been bragging about going to Queensland, so the police tell the family to wait it out.

Days pass. Rumours swirl. A man seen loitering near the bus stop might have followed her. Was there something going on between Rebecca and a male teacher? What about the sheep farmer on Glen Lochan Road where she babysat? And why is her boyfriend, the rough cattle guy Bull Tennant, so sure something sinister has happened? 

Then a shocking murder-suicide at a local farm diverts police attention and Rebecca’s disappearance all too quickly becomes a cold case. 

But her younger sister Eliza has never forgotten, and for almost forty years she’s been looking for answers. 

Once she kept Rebecca’s secrets. Now she’s ready to share her story . . .


by Carol Woeltjes

Place yourself in the shade of aged Moreton Bay figs waiting for the bus after the last day of school, a long carefree summer ahead. Your sister sits nearby reading, your friends chat or play cricket, a school bag as the stumps. These will be the last moments of your childhood, hold them tight.  

After a very public altercation with your mother, your sister doesn’t come home that night, or any other night, and two days later a murder-suicide at a nearby farm quickly means your missing sister is suddenly yesterday’s news; a cold case before it really became a case.

This is the story Eliza, our narrator, tells us within the first pages of Gone by Glenna Thomson. Eliza’s only 14 when her sister disappears, at that in-between age. Not a child, not an adult and it’s this lack of place that gives the novel its emotive base. 

Eliza and her parents struggle with where she fits and how she’s treated are a thread that runs through the novel. They are rarely comfortable together, and the emotional tension is heartbreaking at times. This paired with characters whose facial expression, flick of a wrist or faraway stare set the mood and tone so perfectly I could easily feel the weight of not knowing that clouds their every move. 

Thomson, who grew up on an apple orchard, brings a deep authenticity to the rural setting and the ceaseless demand of farm life. But she doesn’t just show its challenges, she also depicts its beauty and tranquillity. I loved the little glimpses of the past, the cassette tapes and Christmas cards draped over string and fluttering in the breeze. 

Trust is a concept thin on the ground in this novel. I found myself questioning everyone. Running through the alibis in my head when I should have been doing something else. How does a girl simply vanish? Who was that man in the park? Did she simply run away? Is there a link to the murder-suicide, it’s too much of a coincidence surely? All the while feeling torn apart by Eliza and the story she told.

There is a cold, creeping intensity to this novel that had me reading well past bedtime. It’s not a novel that will have you hiding under the doona, but it will have you looking twice at everyone and questioning the motives of even those closest to you.