Marianne's Reviews > Six Minutes

Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern
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it was amazing

Six Minutes is the first novel by Australian author, Petronella McGovern. There are four other mothers and several children at the play group when Lexie Parker steps out for six minutes to buy some biscuits, but when she comes back, three-year-old Bella is gone and no-one has seen her leave. They all take a thorough look, but there aren’t many spots Bella could possibly be, so within minutes they call the police. Paediatrician Dr Marty Parker immediately drops his appointments to join in the search for his daughter.

If Lexie Parker is frustrated with the way the Police are handling the search for her daughter, DS Gabe Caruso might well be feeling something similar regards the witnesses: as expected, what the young children say can’t be regarded as reliable, but the mothers, even Lexie, are all disappointingly vague. Not helping the situation is that a large contingent of police are busy at Parliament House trying to manage the unruly protests over the imminent voluntary assisted death legislation.

As the whole of this tightknit little Canberra community pitches in to search for the little girl, a distraught Lexie tries to remain positive, believing that Bella will soon be found, clinging to the mantra “any moment now”. But as one day turns into more, and searchers come up empty, the conclusion that Bella has been abducted looks more and more likely.

One of the mothers, while displaying concern for the toddler, is displaying equal concern for the number of likes her Facebook posts about Bella are getting. And taking pleasure in sharing confidential information about Lexie’s family to make herself feel important. Is this how friendship is defined in this day and age? Meanwhile, others seem intent on absolving themselves of any blame. And everyone has secrets, things they are hiding, not the least Lexie and Marty, and they should be well aware that the Internet never forgets.

McGovern uses five narrators to tell the story: each of Bella’s parents, one of the mothers from the play group, a police detective and a teacher at the local school. These perspectives are supplemented with the text of Facebook posts, Webpages and blogs; some of these convey information or appeal for help; others expound wildly outrageous and largely baseless theories, or air vitriolic opinions. The occasional thoughts of an anonymous observer complete the picture.

McGovern easily conveys the emotion that accompanies trauma such as that described. She also deftly demonstrates the power of social media, both benign and malicious. Her characters are believable and communities like Merrigang exist all over Australia. The topic of euthanasia is touched upon, as is the murky issue of responsibility in this sort of casual community situation.

There are plenty of red herrings to distract the reader from settling on just who has taken little Bella, and even when that becomes apparent, the reason, and the race to rescue her will keep the pages turning. This is an outstanding debut novel and it will be interesting to see what McGovern does next.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
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Reading Progress

May 2, 2019 – Shelved
May 2, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
August 16, 2019 – Started Reading
August 17, 2019 –
page 84
August 18, 2019 –
page 237
August 19, 2019 –
page 419
August 19, 2019 – Finished Reading

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