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An Isolated Incident

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,864 ratings  ·  316 reviews
When 25-year-old Bella Michaels is brutally murdered in the small town of Strathdee, the community is stunned and a media storm descends.

Unwillingly thrust into the eye of that storm is Bella's beloved older sister, Chris, a barmaid at the local pub, whose apparent easygoing nature conceals hard-won wisdom and the kind of street-smarts only experience can bring.

As Chris is
Paperback, 343 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Pan Macmillan AU
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  2,864 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Miriam Smith
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: twitter
"An Isolated Incident" is the fifth novel by Emily Maguire and is a literary work of art that turns the crime fiction genre literally on its head.
Written with such emotion and excellent and descriptive prose this story focuses on the devastating aftermath of a viciously murdered young woman, 25 year old Bella Michaels, in Strathdee - a small town in Australia.
Primarily told through the first person voice of Bella's sister, Chris and the third person narrative of a city journalist reporting on
“On the day after they found Bella’s body, Vicky sat in my kitchen and told me that when she was sixteen, her nineteen-year-old brother had been stabbed to death after intervening in a street fight down in Melbourne.”

I’ve read that this is a psychological thriller about violence against women. I purposely chose this quotation as an example of violence, but not necessarily against women. I think it's more about grief and loss and loneliness.

The two main characters (not counting poor Bella) ar
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Blunt, tough, raw...the male gaze held up to the mirror.

My View:
Shoot this one straight to the top of my list of “Best Reads of the Year”. Brilliant, masterfully written.

Raw, tough, agonizingly truthful… the male gaze is reflected in a mirror back to us. These reflections are a constant in our (women’s) everyday life, look around you will recognise it too! Misogyny, discrimination, entitlement, double values, violence or threats of violence, intimidation, judgments - the worthy/unworthy, beauti
'An Isolated Incident' opens with the murder and mutilation of Bella Michaels, a well liked, pretty young nurse in the small NSW town of Strathdee. Everyone is shocked at the nature of the crime, including her older sister Chris. Chris is a very different woman to her sister, a popular barmaid, divorced but still friendly with her ex, with no regular boyfriend but occasionally taking home an occasional friendly truckie from the pub. A young female journalist, May Norman who arrives in town to re ...more
DNF - 20% - no rating

I really try to give books my best effort but lately it seems as if my patience has run out. If I am not getting any satisfaction from reading a book then what's the point of reading it? I have loads of ARC's to read and only so much time to do it.

I should also mention I am a mood reader and I was in no mood for this book.

This book was so misogynistic that I wanted throw my kindle at the wall. I know that was what the author was going for but it became infuriating. Not to m
Anna Spargo-Ryan
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Last year, I watched Master of None. In one episode, Aziz Ansari sought to explore the feminine experience, and instead produced a caricature - the woman living in fear, contrasted with the man living free and easy. It was gross. Without nuance.

What I liked so much about An Isolated Incident is that it did the opposite. Being a woman in the world is bullshit for all kinds of reasons, and this book explores a whole lot of them without labouring any of them. Against the backdrop of violence agains
Jaclyn Crupi
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a book about violence towards women, societal misogyny and the public/media's limited and temporary interest in victims of violence, especially if they're young and pretty. Important subject matter and we certainly need more fiction exploring these stories but disappointing writing and execution here, deserved more nuance. The writing was painfully pedestrian, the main characters were badly drawn and the book was a poor attempt at a thriller dressed up to seem like literary fiction. Such ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
An Isolated Incident offers the reader a thorough examination of the impact of a horrific violent crime against a young Australian woman, rather than an investigation into the crime itself.

When Bella Michaels, a pretty and much loved community member of the small NSW town of Strathdee is found brutally murdered, it not only shatters a whole town but the lives of those she left behind, namely her older sister Chris. As Chris struggles to come to terms with her sister’s death, a second voice appea
Liz Barnsley
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
An Isolated Incident is a different kind of crime novel which focuses not on the whodunit or the investigation but on the aftermath of such an event. In this case the Sister of the victim and the young reporter sent in to cover the case are under the spotlight and it is a hugely immersive character study, a truly human story that creeps up under your skin.
It is beautifully told, a realistic, literary prose that takes us through the month following a horrific murder, as family, friend’s and commu
Lizzy Chandler
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Country NSW and a young woman is brutally murdered. Her sister is a local barmaid who, while still emotionally involved with her ex, has her own ideas about how to conduct herself in relation to love and sex. Another young woman, a journalist, arrives on the scene to report the sensational crime. She has her own problems, personally and careerwise.

"Who did it?" is one of the last questions An Isolated Incident explores. More pressing is the question, how do women really think and behave? And wh
Michael Livingston
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book - well plotted, brilliantly characterised and deeply political, it covers the aftermath of a brutal murder in a small Australian town from the perspectives of the victim's sister and a journalist in town to report on the crime.

Chris, the sister, is a brilliant character - one of the most memorable in recent Australian literature - and its her side of the story that was the strongest. May, the journalist, is a useful plot device, but I felt less connected to her as a rea
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not what I was expecting. Probably 3 and a half stars. Wasnt that impressed with the language, although I suppose it may have been in keeping with one theme followed in the story.
A very tough book to read. Lots of unpleasant and confronting themes to grapple with.
Overall was a good read but not recommended for all.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm in the minority here, I think. I didn't really like this book all that much, such a disappointing portrayal of *all* the female characters - either moping about waiting for men, having affairs with married men, prostituting themselves, or simply unable to function properly without a bloke around. Ugh. The more I think about this book the less I like it.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reviews
An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire is one of those novels that refuses to be boxed into a simple category. It dances a fine line between crime thriller and literary fiction. Its focus is not on finding out who committed a horrendous murder in a small town but on the outfall on the victim’s family and local community. It’s this level of social commentary — think Norwegian crime queen Karin Fossum — that lends the novel a literary quality.

To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog.
Cass Moriarty
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Emily Maguire's novel An Isolated Incident (Picador books 2016) is currently short-listed for the The Stella Prize, and comes on the back of a number of fiction and non-fiction works written by this author on the subject of domestic violence, mysogyny and attitudes towards women. The narrative is a taut psychological thriller, with a vicious crime, several suspects, and a possibly unreliable narrator. 25-year-old Bella Michaels disappears on her way home from her work at an aged care facility. W ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bella Michaels was last seen leaving from her job on a Friday evening. Her friends and family are concerned when they can't get in touch with her over the weekend. They contact the police, but since she is twenty-five years old, they assume she's taken off for the weekend with friends. Her family and close friends think; differently, her sister Chris refers to her as the "the world's youngest grandma" she's very responsible and would never do anything to worry her family.
Her brutalized body is d
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a compelling but bleak read. It’s not your conventional crime novel, we aren’t looking for the killer as much as we are observing the profound and extensive ripples that a crime like this causes. This, more than anything is a catalogue of violence against women, and a pointed comment on social misogyny, and the temporal and misogynistic nature of the reporting of crimes against women. A decent read.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, c21st
I bought Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident when I read about it in the Readings Monthly catalogue and thought, this sounds like a novel tackling an important issue. And it does. #DuckingForCover IMO it tackles the topic of violence against women in a more sophisticated and credible way than the much-lauded The Natural Way of Things.

The title An Isolated Incident is ironic: yes, the murder of Chris Michaels’ sister Bella is unusual in the small town of Strathdee, but murder and violence again
Kate Walton
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good, but it had the potential to be so much more...


The fact that the two main female characters, May and Chris, were both so hooked up on their ex-partners was frustrating. Neither of them seemed to have anything in the way of friends and both were totally wrapped up in how their value as women related to their men.

The ending was also a huge disappointment. Sure, we find out who the killer was, but we learn nothing about him -he's just some random new character introduced as the kille
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the small truck-stop town of Strathdee, a pretty young nurse is brutally assaulted and murdered - and that's before the book even begins. But don't be fooled by the blurb saying this is a psychological thriller, and thinking it's all about catching the murderer. Not at all. I wouldn't say it's a thriller, although there is a distinct air of mystery as we don't find out who the killer is until the final pages. But it does have definite psychological leanings. Maguire skilfully and methodically ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
An Isolated IncidentEmily MaguireI was looking forward to reading this 'Psychological Thriller' and was hoping for some who dunnit twists and turns, some hard core 'lets get the murderer' type story but what I got was a story of those left behind, there sad sorry lives and sexual undertones that made this book a bit 'off'.

I didn't really enjoy it and found the narrative much like listening to someone on a stage narrating a story in a play. It was not a page turner for me, was not at all thrillin
Marie McLean
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued by the premise of this book after listening to a Garret Podcast episode featuring the shortlisted nominees for the 2017 Miles Franklin Award (Australia’s most prestigious literary award).

This is Emily Maguire’s fifth novel and is deserving of its place in the top 5 Miles Franklin shortlist. Well written with real, gritty characters, its primary theme is violence against women and the fleeting social media interest in these crimes. I found this novel totally absorbing.

What happene
Jun 02, 2016 marked it as not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anz16
This one was not for me. Initially I was impressed with the writing which is honest, raw and sometimes confronting. I quickly realised that this was not about a murder investigation but about how people from different 'sides' of the story - particularly a grieving sister and a crime reporter - experience what has happened and how the impact will play out on their lives. There are serious issues here of misogyny, sexual mores and violence toward women - issues which were taken up, also brutally ( ...more
Tony Nielsen
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
I've given An Isolated Incident a two star rating which means that it was ok. Truth is that I have probably been over-generous. Yes, I did finish it and that was actually the worst part as the finale or conclusion to this murder mystery was actually the weakest part of the story. I am very familiar with small-town Australia, as I've lived there, but I didn't feel a connection from the two main narrators to either their location or their relaying of the plot. The key fact is the murder of 25 year ...more
Claudia Aubert
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, good characters and descriptions of an Australian country town. Not so much much a mystery but a story about grief, the media and how society treats victims of crime. 4.5 stars
Sep 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle arc of An Isolated Incident.

Silly me for thinking since this was shortlisted for a literary award, I thought I would be getting a suspenseful story with meaningful characters.

Instead, I was buried beneath one-dimensional and hateful characters, the egregious amount of sexual violence, sexism, disgusting epithets against women and the lack of strong characters, both male and female.

** Minor spoilers ahead **

Chris is a middle-aged bartender slogging her way t
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not a crime novel. Yes there is a murder but you are not led along a skilful path of suspects and motives towards a killer. There is a murder and there is a killer but the details of those are not fully revealed, they don't form the basis of this book.

The book focuses on Chris, the sister of the murdered girl, Bella. Bella' murder shines a big light on Chris. She goes from being a nobody barmaid to the person everyone wants to speak to. She goes from having an ordinary life that is ignor
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I am admittedly a prude about sex. I don't naturally gravitate toward books with graphic sex. So part of the reason, this book was not my cup of tea was the take on sex partners and how many there were. If that doesn't bother you, then you may enjoy this book more. I also didn't enjoy the descent into grief. This book was more focused on how a person's life is destroyed when a loved one is violently snatched than on the whodunnit part. I think others will really resonate with the book.
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chookas, read-in-2016
I guess 3.5 stars. This was very readable, but something was a bit off. Maybe it was just that the message was very unsubtle? and I feel bad as a woman in the world for saying that, because really we should all be agitated about violence against women (or anyone vulnerable); we should all be talking about that explicitly and virtually non stop. But I guess in my fiction I want that message to be a bit more stealthy, to creep up until it's inarguable fact embedded in one's thought processes. But ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I ripped through this. Emily Maguire excels at writing characters like Chris, the grieving sister of murdered Bella. More Chris, and less May the journalist would have made the book even better. She's good on the quotidian too and while this book has been accused of being didactic, I reckon she rammed her message home very effectively without losing sight of the plot. I hate to compare books directly, especially from authors I equally admire, but as everyone else is doing it, I may as well - I p ...more
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explores society's fascination with murder 1 4 May 29, 2016 01:17AM  

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“The loss of her is already too much and then there’s the other thing – the end of being loved in the way only my sister could love me. What I feel for her survives and that hurts like battery acid every minute, but worse is that what she felt for me died with her. I will never be loved like that again.” 5 likes
“Such a weird thing, isn't it.... to walk around for days every month bleeding. As girls, to just accept that a certain amount of our time will be spent cleaning up gore expelled from our own bodies, part of our income spent buying mass-produced bits of cotton wool to soak it up, part of our minds spent tracking, remembering and planning so that no one ever notices we're temporarily transformed into victims of satanic possession, blood gushing out of our uninjured bodies.... waking up at night with stuff of life smeared all over sheets, like you're in the middle of a fucking crime scene... Oh it's fine, it's normal. Jesus! No wonder men back away in fear.” 2 likes
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