by Boby Beavers

"Like magic, the clown appears. No one recognizes it. The clown appears because that's what clowns do. That doesn't sit right. Performers need a stage, a manager, a past -- an identity. Even Warwick demands more."

A clown has come to Warwick, and no one knows where he came from. This is relevant in a small community like Warwick, where anything out of place is noticed immediately; yet no one seems to notice the clown's sudden appearance. No one, that is, besides Detective Willow. The detective doesn't let much pass him by, and he becomes strangely fixated on this clown character who stands out among the locals. The sharp-eyed detective sets out to answer the questions surrounding the clown: Where does he come from? Why is there fear in his eyes? Who is this clown, anyway?

The clown acts as an intriguing central theme in a story that's focused more on the location. Warwick is a sleepy community in the southeast of Queensland, the kind of place where older women report youngsters for riding their bikes around the streets too aggressively. Locals know each other, travelers are just "passing through," and the rift between the new and old generation is heavily pronounced. Like with many quiet places, the facade hides a grittier underbelly, and Detective Willow guides the reader deeper into it as he descends into a tale of fear, drugs, and the question of humanity.

Through Willow's earnest eyes and the author's softly drifting present-tense narration, we see his surroundings caught between the way they want to look and the way they truly are. It's difficult to understand at first why Willow spends so much time shadowing a clown for seemingly no reason, and his cryptic way of speaking obscures his reasons even further. But once the detective matches a name to the clown, the story suddenly takes off down the rabbit-hole and unfolds at a brisk pace. Powerful people become involved, buried secrets begin to unravel, and Willow acts as a guiding light through it all.

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