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Only Killers and Thieves: A Novel Audiobook, by Paul Howarth Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Paul Howarth Narrator: David Linski Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2018 ISBN: 9780062798619
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Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them—their former Aboriginal stockman—the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the "dispersal" of indigenous Australians to "protect" white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life—and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Recreating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer’s The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire’s The North Water.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A gripping novel about conflict in the Australian outback at the turn of the century; beautifully done.”

    Paulette Jiles, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Howarth brings early Australia to life, bloody warts and all, in an epic tale of murder, revenge, and colonial oppression, with very little room for redemption. The story and his words will stay with you, long after you have finished the book.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Everything about this novel is alive—the characters, the setting, and the language. The scenes and scenery last in your mind like the best westerns. And this book deserves that comparison.”

    Amazon Book Review

  • “Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Impressive…While this book has a historical point to make, it also works as a suspenseful mystery and a resonant bildungsroman.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Devastating and impressive…Howarth skillfully uses the fraying relationship between the two brothers…to illustrate the moral issues at the heart of his story.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rich in character and period atmosphere, this effective blend of family saga and historical mystery will please fans of Jeffrey Archer and Wilbur Smith.”

    Booklist

  • “A tale of racial and cultural collisions, family bonds, and murder in colonial Australia.”

    BookPage

  • “I couldn’t put Only Killers and Thieves down. It does what great Westerns do, it drops you inside the ugliness and chaos of Australian frontier life, it educates and horrifies, but also it entertains. Howarth’s debut is a powerhouse page turner.”

    Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete

  • “Everywhere alive with vivid evocations of a landscape as punishing as it is beautiful and vibrant characters who would be just as at home in Blood Meridian or Butcher’s Crossing, Only Killers and Thieves compels and convinces from the start. This is a thrilling book, and Paul Howarth is a writer of tremendous talent.”

    Laird Hunt, author of The Evening Road

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month selection
  • A BookPage Top Pick of Australian Mysteries

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About the Author

Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family. In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.

About the Narrator

David Linski (a.k.a. David Ligudzinski and David Atlas) is a graduate of the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia. He has numerous voice-over credits, an extensive theatrical résumé, and has starred in short and feature films both in the United States and Australia.