To the Sea by Christine Dibley




On a clear summer’s day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house.

Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished.

Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents.

But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth?

As Tony’s investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.

Reviewer: Celia Jelbart

This is a debut novel by Christine Dibley who, on a Facebook post acknowledging she’d been nominated for a Davitt award, noted she did not think of To the Sea as a crime novel.

A police station is notified during the week between Christmas and New Year that a girl has vanished.

What follows is a gentle-paced story, which includes mythology, police procedures, family interactions and mystery. Five different voices are used throughout the novel to weave the story together.

Why has the family left it so long before notifying police? How will this affect the search by the Marine Branch? What about the story the boyfriend tells that seems impossible?

The book has more of a literary style than most crime fiction. The weaving and blending of mythology from Ireland and Iceland, with the family heritage, the revelation of events from generations past, and the interplay of family members, meant that there was much more included than just the procedure of the search.

The sea plays a part in the book. The lovely house where the family had gathered for Christmas is on a cape, at the end of a road, and although part of a small settlement, remains isolated from the neighbours.

While reading the book, I contemplated how well we know our friends. Is it possible to think you know someone well, but not know them at all? And how well do older siblings really know younger siblings with large gaps between children, and vice versa?

The last page of the book left me annoyed – I didn’t like the ending at all. It jarred, even though I can see why the author left us there.

I did not find the story drawing me in, but when writing the review and thinking back to reading the book, I have warm feelings about the mythological story, and its part in the narrative.