In conversation with Vikki Petraitis

Vikki Petraitis will be in conversation with Chris Hammer on The Unbelieved, winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Fiction Prize, in which Vikki gathers her considerable true-crime experience into an impressive debut novel.

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she'd requested a transfer to the quiet town she'd grown up in. But there are some things you can't run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home. Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real - and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

'Vikki Petraitis has taken a lifetime of observing police work and true crime and brought this experience to writing fiction for the first time, and the result is this fantastic novel: tightly paced, plausible, a fabulous read and, above all, completely gripping. It has everything I want in an unputdownable crime thriller, as well as tremendous emotional intelligence and the feeling that what is unfolding could be happening in any small town. We could not be more proud to kick off the A&U Crime Fiction Prize with this extraordinary novel.' Jane Palfeyman

Vikki Petraitis is best known for her true crime books including the bestselling book The Frankston Murders about serial killer Paul Denyer, and her first book, The Phillip Island Murder, which has been featured in several TV shows and podcasts. In her true crime books, Vikki has covered everything from police dogs to Lawyer X, the Russell Street bombing and sex crimes. Her expertise lies in interviewing police and victims to create compelling narratives. In recent years, Vikki has made two hugely successful podcast series with Casefile Presents, which have topped charts around the world and been downloaded millions of times.

Chris Hammer's crime fiction novels, Scrublands (2018), Silver (2019) and Trust (2020), which have won multiple awards in Australia and overseas, constitute a powerful, compelling and original trilogy. His latest novel , Treasure and Dirt (2021) an engrossing, standalone, outback noir thriller, has been an international bestseller.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.

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podcast will be made available after the event.