‘Eliza Clarke was never going to succeed Boy Parts without a smattering of violence and once again her brutal imagery is matched with an interrogation of our interest in such things. The reader is forced to call into question every “truth” this book declares and encourages us critique the true crime obsession that has boomed in the last decade. Clarke’s second novel not only holds up a mirror to our murderous fascination but offers a horrifyingly honest portray of 2010s teenage girlhood. Much like the genre Clarke is critiquing, Penance is a morbidly addictive read.’
‘You’ve never read anything like this.’ JULIA ARMFIELD
Do you know what happened already? Did you know her? Did you see it on the internet? Did you listen to a podcast? Did the hosts make jokes?
Did you see the pictures of the body?
Did you look for them?
It’s been nearly a decade since the horrifying murder of sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson rocked Crow-on-Sea, and the events of that terrible night are now being published for the first time.
That story is Penance, a dizzying feat of masterful storytelling, where Eliza Clark manoeuvres us through accounts from the inhabitants of this small seaside town. Placing us in the capable hands of journalist Alec. Z. Carelli, Clark allows him to construct what he claims is the ‘definitive account’ of the murder – and what led up to it. Built on hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research, and most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves, the result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil.
The only question is: how much of it is true?
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