by Kerryn Mayne

Publisher: Bantam Australia, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2024

Publisher’s blurb

On her twin daughters’ twenty-first birthday, Joy Moody – proprietor of Bayside’s premier laundromat – is found dead. Yet that is not the strangest thing happening behind the bright pink facade of Joyful Suds.

For much of their lives, Joy has been telling Cassie and Andie one big, fat lie- that they are from the future, and that when they turn twenty-one they will travel back to the year 2050.

What started as a colourful tale to explain how the girls came to live with her has now become a decades-long deception.

Worse still, Joy has started to believe it herself.

The big lie is certainly preferable to the truth she just can’t face – about what happened to the girls’ real mother, Britney, and how far Joy’s gone to keep them ‘safe’ . . .

With the twins’ twenty-first birthday fast approaching, and with Andie starting to have doubts – particularly when she discovers her ‘future’ is eerily similar to one of her mother’s favourite books – time is fast running out for Joy Moody.

In more ways than one.


by Ann Penhallurick (writing as A D Penhall)

Warning: this novel contains no guns, knives, chase scenes, threats against the crime-chasers; there’s the bare-bare minimum of blood splatters, an only mildly obsessive detective (who doesn’t appear till the second half of the novel), and no messy deaths.

In fact, we know from the beginning what fate imminently awaits Joy, of the eponymously (sort-of) named novel. Joy Moody will soon be dead. Exactly when, how, and who will be involved is of course the question of the moment. Not too far into the novel, a disappearance which may or may not be a second death appears to tantalise the whodunnit soul of the reader. 

Mayne’s narrative moves back and forwards in time, giving the reader insight into characters, events – and handing out more questions. All chapters are told in third person but each is from the point of view of one or other of the three main protagonists – Joy, or her ‘adopted’ twin daughters, Andie and Cassie – or, later in the book, the detective, Holliday, and, briefly, another character. The differing points of view add to the mysteries and twists. The tone of the novel is light, but don’t be fooled, there’s a darkness there. And bigger questions – around parenting, families, relationships and what someone will do when they feel threatened by forces both within and outside themselves.

Somewhere in an outer suburb of Melbourne, not far from Frankston, Kerryn Mayne creates a strange, cloistered domestic world, much of it dressed in pink. The creepiness of it creeps up on the reader – at first, for me at least, a little too slowly, or perhaps not quite as clearly as I would have liked. The novel is in four sections, which fall neatly into two halves, divided by a seminal event and very nearly divided down the middle, page number wise. Reading Joy Moody is Out of Time, I found the second half of the book much more satisfying. It’s not a huge difference – Mayne’s narration is clear, enjoyably easy to read throughout – but, in the second half, the narrative has more pace to take the reader along with it and its detail is more relevant to events and to the very interesting psychological questions the book poses. I found myself much more invested in the characters. I also found myself extremely appreciative of the clever ways that Mayne has crafted a seemingly light narrative with dark undertones that remain troubling well after the story has wound up. Joy Moody is Out of Time is a cosy, with a sharp twist of the bitter.