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The Second Son

The Second Son: Winner of the 2021 Best Debut Crime Fiction Ned Kelly Award

Loraine Peck

  • awardWinner, Best Debut Crime Fiction, Ned Kelly Awards, Australian Crime Writers Association, 2021
  • awardShortlisted, BAD Danger Award, 2021
  • awardShortlisted, Adult crime novels, Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, 2022
  • awardShortlisted, Debut crime books, Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, 2022
  • Duty always has a price.

    When Ivan Novak is shot dead putting out his garbage bins in Sydney’s west, his family wants revenge, especially his father Milan, a notorious crime boss. It’s a job for the second son, Ivan’s younger brother Johnny.

    But Johnny loves his wife Amy and their son Sasha. And she’s about to deliver her ultimatum: either the three of them escape this wave of killing or she’ll leave, taking Sasha.

    Torn between loyalty to his family and love for his wife, Johnny plans the heist of a lifetime and takes a huge risk. Is he prepared to pay the price? And what choice will Amy make?

    The Second Son is a brilliant action-packed crime debut that creates a world where honour is everything, violence is its own language, and love means breaking all the rules.

    ABA interview with Loraine Peck and Sarah Krasnostein


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    Loraine Peck
    About the Author

    From magician’s assistant to crime novelist, it’s all about mastering the art of subterfuge for Loraine Peck, whose love of crime fiction propelled her to write the kind of book she loves to read.

    The Second Son, Loraine’s debut novel, won the 2021 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction from the Australian Crime Writers Association. It...

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    24 January 2023
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    Praise for Loraine Peck
    andThe Second Son

    ‘At first glance, The Second Son is a modern-day Godfather that paints a brutal, bullet-ridden picture of gang warfare in Sydney’s western suburbs. Look again, and it’s a compelling exploration of inherited trauma and the endless cycle of violence. Get right up close and it’s a tender story of fear, love and—ultimately—hope. A sharp and striking debut.’

    ‘Dark, gritty, and full of deliciously complex characters.’

    ‘Tight and tense, The Second Son is a wonderfully sharp-toothed crime thriller.’

    ‘A tense, sinuous, fast-moving debut where hard answers are given to questions of honour and justice.’

    ‘Impressive…Loraine Peck gives us a fast-paced gangland thriller…[T]he women are the real strength here.’

    ‘[A]n engaging read…Peck writes well on all narrative levels: the background, the action, and the personal relationships, which are tender and convincing.’

    ‘Don’t start this book late at night. You will not be able to put it down. Fast-paced, great characters, evil plot and a shocking twist right at the end—what more could a crime fan want?’

    ‘Have you ever read a book and imagined it as a gripping, 10-episode Australian crime drama? The Second Son is like that: action-packed, full of surprises, and with enough family tension to keep you hooked with every chapter.’

    ‘Outstanding…a gripping whodunnit. Original and straight from the heart.’

    ‘Compelling and gritty, at its heart this crime thriller is also the He says/She says tale of a marriage disintegrating under a Molotov cocktail of toxic masculinity and family honour. Hi-octane, brutal, raw and emotional, this is one striking crime debut.’

    ‘Loraine Peck’s debut novel is as relentless as headlights following you at night, full of spark, simmering violence and outright gang bloodshed.’

    ‘The novel snaps along at a cracking pace, [and] is filled with sharply drawn and complex characters…Disturbing, fresh, and thoroughly entertaining.’

    ‘A brilliant action-packed crime debut.’

    ‘This is a cracking read and I was reeled in from the first chapter. The characters are strong and pitch perfect, as the story is revealed in alternating chapters between Johnny and Amy. The plot is action-packed and compelling, and I struggled to put it down, bargaining with myself for ‘one more page’. With overtones of The Godfather, these of family dynamics, conflict and expectations are explored with insight and nuance…exciting new voice on the Australian crime writing landscape.’

    ‘[A] fast-paced thriller…a cross between The Godfather and Underbelly.’

    ‘The judges praised the strong character-driven plot and the realistic setting in multicultural Sydney. The intercutting of family dynamics and organised crime action brings a heightened level of both engagement and tension to The Second Son.’

    ‘Loraine Peck has written a warm, funny, robust and highly suspenseful story about warring crime families, a fresh take on the organised crime story. What lingers afterwards is the family and their warm, fully imagined and relatable personalities. The focus on the women characters gives this gangster story an edge on other gritty tales about the men who live and die by mobsters’ law. This is pacy, with tension increasing on every page and each exquisite twist is completely believable. I thoroughly enjoyed this gem of a novel.‘

    ‘A gritty crime novel set in the seedy streets of Sydney’s west. With twists and turns I didn’t see coming, it’s got a terrific hook—the son of a drug boss pressured to choose between his wife and child and avenge his brother’s murder. I’m not surprised it won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut crime novel. Another Aussie writer to watch.’

    ‘Intense. The world building is so detailed and the characters! I am looking forward to the sequel already.’

    ‘Thanks for the high blood pressure Loraine Peck, and for making me fall in love with thugs and crims. Can’t wait for the next one. A definite 10/10.’

    ‘An impressive, thrilling crime fiction debut that explores the themes of family, heritage, loyalty, revenge, and trauma. Peck’s writing is confident and engaging, capturing a different aspect of Australian urban life. The Second Son is an entertaining, tense and gritty crime novel, and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.’

    ‘Perfect for lovers of action-packed crime brimming with heart.’

    ‘Gritty and entertaining, an exciting new voice on the Australian crime fiction landscape.’

    ‘Amy is a lioness of a mother while Johnny ensures the action never ceases. There’s humour here too amongst the violence. A brilliant, edge-of-the-seat story.’

    ‘Everything I want in a crime novel—action-packed plot, compelling characters, heart-stopping twists and suspense that kept me reading well into the night. Peck skilfully pits loyalty against love in this brilliant, fresh and entertaining take on the world of warring crime families. Can’t wait for the next instalment!’

    ‘Peck plunges the reader into Sydney’s underworld. This vividly told, fast-paced story is as beautiful as it is brutal.’

    ‘This book blew my mind, broke my heart and scared the hell out of me. After I had finished it, I felt bereaved, like my world had dissolved. And, as dangerous as it was, I wanted to go back. I loved it and I hope to see it on Netflix one day. I can’t wait to read the sequel.’

    Other editions ofThe Second Son
    • The Second Son
      ISBN: 9781925923841
      2 February 2021
      Buy ebook
    • The Second Son
      ISBN: 9781922330437
      2 February 2021
    Other Titles byLoraine Peck