SHARK attack or foul play: these are the two credible explanations for professional surfer Kai Kaahea’s disappearance off Pinrush Point – an event that prompts the international media and fellow surfers alike to join police in besieging this sliver of outback West Australian coastline.
Yet, one local is oblivious to the missing Kai’s apparent fame: drover Drift Wood, the only daughter of itinerant poetry-loving horseman Split and his late wife, who died in the same stretch of water when Drift was a child.
Having returned to the Widgenup district with a fresh mob of cattle for fattening, the Woods find themselves in the right place at the very worst possible time, their customarily quiet camp existence disrupted by a frenzied hunt for the young Hawaiian.
Unaccustomed to being surrounded by a throng of strangers and struggling to manage her father’s unpredictable, frequently drunken behaviour, Drift is relieved to find a friendly presence in the form of Constable Simon Swain. As a member of the investigating team, dependable Simon is a godsend for Drift and a potential lifesaver for Split.
Life has always been tough for Drift. With little spending money, no permanent home and almost no contact with people her own age for company, the 21-year-old is ill at ease socialising and struggles to accept Simon’s interest in her.
However, when Drift crosses paths with Sophia Gaier, the billionaire owner of The Planet, an enormous neighbouring station and conservation area, and Sophia’s community of workers, she finally begins to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.
Rachel Treasure’s innate connection to rural culture, understanding of livestock husbandry and ability to generate relatably flawed characters give this story a genuine warmth and authenticity in which the value of an entertaining, believable journey for the reader outweighs any expectation of a fairytale-happy conclusion.