Review: No Country for Girls by Emma Styles

This has TV adaptation written all over it. A road trip featuring gold bars, murder, chases, dodgy cops and two young girls – it’s ripe for adaptation.

The blurb calls this a modern day Thelma and Louise and you can see why but it’s not quite the same. It does have a cracking start. Charlie comes home to find a strange girl on her doorstep needing to crash somewhere for the night. She lets her in, only to find her sister’s dodgy boyfriend Daryl waiting inside. He thinks she has pinched a small bar of gold from him, there’s an argument, it gets nasty and physical and lo and behold, there’s a body, blood on the floor and a whole bag of gold bars in Daryl’s car.

Charlie and the other girl, Nao, go on the run across Australia. Of course, we soon find out that Nao is not there by accident and there’s a whole lot more plot to come.

It’s a pacey read and you really warm to the two girls, who have had tough lives so far and are tackling their fugitive status with aplomb. At some points I did have trouble working out who was talking – this wasn’t helped by the alternating narrator in each chapter – sometimes Charlie, sometimes Nao and sometimes Charlie’s sister Geena.

Of course being Australia, there’s a supporting cast of nasty critters ready to play their part in the plot and I did think the novel had a terrific sense of place, especially that seedy dark side that you don’t get from the surfing adverts. The impact of policies against Aborigines and the legacy of mining in the outback are among the broader themes discussed here but this isn’t an issue book – it’s a thriller and perfect summer reading.

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles is published on 21 July by Hachette and can be found in all good bookshops! Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced reading copy.

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