Allen & Unwin
Published by
Allen & Unwin (2019-05)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language
Thriller / suspense fiction


by Reilly, Carmel

Suspense and family secrets surround a pair of estranged siblings in a compelling debut thriller set in the world and tone of Liane Moriarty.

She knew she should talk to him. But what was she to say? Once there had been blame to apportion, rage to hurl. Now she no longer had a sense of that. Who knew what the facts of them being here together like this meant. What was she to make of the situation? Scott lying unconscious here in this bed, unknown to her in almost every way. She now a wife, a mother, but in her mind no longer a sister. Not a sister for a very long time now.

Lori Spyker is taking her kids to school one unremarkable day when a policeman delivers the news that her brother, Scott Green, has been injured and hospitalised following a hit and run. Lori hasn't seen Scott in decades. She appears to be his only contact. Should she take responsibility for him? Can she? And, if she does, how will she tell her own family about her hidden history, kept secret for so long?

Twenty years before, when she and Scott were teenagers, their lives and futures, and those of their family, had been torn to shreds. Now, as Lori tries to piece together her brother's present, she is forced to confront their shared past - and the terrible and devastating truth buried there that had driven them so far apart.

Compassionate, wise and shocking, Life Before tells the gripping story of an ordinary family caught in a terrible situation. What if the worst thing you can imagine isn't the worst thing to happen? How do you go on? And what steps will you take to protect yourself from further pain?

CARMEL REILLY is one of Australia's busiest educational writers, with over 300 titles to her name. She has written a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction for ages five to teens, with subjects that encompass topics from democracy, global cultures and the solar system to everyday life, adventurous aliens and silly superheros. Outside of writing for children, she won the 2013 Partners in Crime Short Story Award for her entry Another Life. In 2016, she was awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship, and was shortlisted for a 2018 Varuna Publisher Introduction Program Fellowship. Life Before is Carmel's first novel for adults.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Annelie Geissler

Available View on Rightsdesk


Exploring the best and worst of small-town life and the responsibility of parents for their children's actions, this is a standout debut.

Review: Who Weekly

Life Before is literary fiction. (Carmel is a master of subtle, poignant details, of flawed and familiar characters). But it is also a thickening mystery, a story of the past creeping back into the present; of cracks beginning to form.

Review: Good Reading

A compelling, deliberate and devastating read.

Review: Readings Monthly

A very compelling read for crime and mystery fans.

Review: The Book Muse

A deep, slow dive into the hidden heart of a family tragedy.

Review: Herald Sun

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