Philip Trudeau, who once wrote for a top-flight Melbourne paper, is down and almost out after landing on the wrong side of a story involving some very powerful people. After spending a few years in prison, he now goes through the motions of putting his name to press releases at a minor local paper in Yarraville, an old factory town that's experiencing suburban birth pains. But when he's called out to cover the death of 13-year-old Micheal, killed late at night by a train at a gated crossing, something unexpected happens—Philip finds the story just won't fade away; it keeps coming back to haunt him, no matter how much he drinks, no matter where he goes. And when the boy's death appears to somehow be tied to John Price, an art collector found dead in his own home, Phillip feels an old itch rising—a story he has to chase.
But he's made enemies that haven't forgotten him, and alcohol has dulled his mind to where he can't always be sure just what's real and what's his imagination. He's haunted by a picture he saw in Price's home before he died, a red-haired woman like the one he also glimpsed in the window of Price's home when it was auctioned off after his death. But the picture has disappeared. He'd like to find out more about Nina, the woman he met at the railroad crossing the night Michael died, but she doesn't want to talk to him. And Maureen, his journalism partner at the Melbourne paper, pops back into his life but then she, too, disappears and her phone has been disconnected. As he finally begins to put the pieces together, he discovers once again that the itch of the story may prove hazardous to his health.
Nick Gadd's Ghostlines is a rare find. Philip Trudeau is a deeply flawed but fascinating character; the plot is fresh and complex; and the psychological drama plays with the reader's mind as well as Trudeau's. What is real and what is the product of Tudeau's battered brain? Even without the Victoria Premier's Literary Award, Ghostlines would be and is a winner!