You’ll Never Find Me

A teenage runaway… Sydney teen Keely Johnson went missing in 1988. Five years on, with her family ripped apart by the grief of her disappearance, her younger sister Ashley remains determined to never give up hope of finding her.

An unsolved disappearance… From the outside looking in, Clive and Ayala Philips were living a privileged and happy life, flitting between their outback NSW property and their city and overseas luxury apartments. But after Ayala disappears without a trace and the mystery unravels, it appears their lives were not so perfect after all.

A murder confession without a body… Bourke teenager Sarah-Jayne Hart goes for a late afternoon walk but doesn’t come home. It doesn’t take long for police to find their suspect and he is quick to confess to her murder. But what has he done with her body? Did he really kill her or is she still out there somewhere?

A body buried in the bush… Who is the mystery woman buried west of nowhere, with the random clue s.k.y. which nobody can connect?

A young female detective… Detective Rhiannon McVee has left the bright lights of Sydney to be closer to the cowboy of her dreams, Mac, and the vast outback that is her home. But her missing persons cases keep dragging her back to the city streets and away from her true loves. While she continues searching desperately for all those who are lost, will Mac wait for her?

Reading Group Questions

Now that you’re in the third novel of the Detective Rhiannon McVee series, do you feel like the characters are old friends?

Who is your favourite character and why?

Ayala seemed to have everything and is a highly intelligent woman. Why do you think she stayed in her toxic marriage for so long?

Do you think Ayala has acted in a way that you would in the same situation, or does she go too far?

How well do you think the author presented the issue of domestic violence which is so often hidden behind closed doors?

Keely is missing from the most of the novel and her story is lived out through the people who are searching for her. Did you find this frustrating not knowing where she was, particularly after the cliffhanger of When You Find Me?

In this book some story lines continue to remain unresolved while one of the missing persons cases is solved. Why do you think the author has done this?

Is the book fact or fiction ?

This is a great question and I get asked all the time.

“The best lie is the one that has an element of truth, so it’s good to include something real in your fiction.” Renee Conoutly , Australian writer

Although all my crime novels are inspired by my first cousin Ursula Barwick who disappeared after she boarded a train bound for Sydney in 1987, these are fiction, not fact about Ursula. The readers of You’ll Never Find Me know what is happening behind the scenes and see the different ‘missing’ journeys through their eyes.

But sadly, as I am writing this novel, we still don’t know what happened to Ursula after she reached Sydney.

When I published Write About Me, then continued with this Detective Rhiannon McVee series, I decided to share the story behind the story because I wanted people to know Ursula wasn’t just a two-dimensional face on a Missing Persons poster.

But most of all I want the world to know what it’s like when families and friends, investigators, school teachers and friends of friends have to go on with their lives while their missing person remains missing.

And by putting Ursula’s story at the back of my books, I am also hoping that somebody, somewhere might come forward and help our family find some sort of end point in regards to her disappearance.

Who is Rhiannon McVee ?

A twenty-something girl from the Australian outback with her eyes set firmly on being a detective. Her career starts in the late 80s at Kings Cross Police Station, amongst a dominant male police force who see so many people go missing that one missing person just blends in with the next. But Rhiannon’s no pushover, and doesn’t take no for an answer when she’s on a case. Off the job Rhiannon is like any normal girl in her twenties, she loves to party, she loves her family and she loves her cowboy who waits patiently for her to return to her outback home.
Rhiannon McVee is also the detective I have created as my own fairy godmother, who I wish was in our lives in 1987.

It’s people like Detective Rhiannon McVee who make our lives better and help us find our missing loved ones. And when we do, she’s there to help us pick up the pieces.

How difficult is it to fictionalise what you have experienced in real life?

Fictionalising a real life experience the way I have gives me some distance and allows me to explore the experiences of others.

All my characters have something important to say about missing persons. For example, take Rhiannon McVee. I’m so captivated by her I’ve created a detective crime mystery series in her honour.

Through her experiences and those of the people she’s looking for, I’m able to convey the issues and feelings that surround missing people.

Rather than get dragged down by my own experiences missing Ursula, writing fiction helps me channel my energy into a reinvigorated search for answers. Through my books I am giving a voice to Ursula, and to all of those who are missing.

Your books are drawn to two distinct places – Kings Cross and the Australian outback. Can you explain the significance of location?

Location is extremely important when I am piecing my stories together. While I write I see the scenes play out in my mind like a movie, and location plays such an important part. Both Kings Cross and the Australian outback have a real sense of mystery about them. They’re intriguing and although vastly different, evoke similar feelings for the reader. The outback is such an isolated and lonely place, and with that comes a sense of foreboding and danger. Kings Cross is so small size-wise compared to the outback and it’s busy and hectic and noisy, but has the same sense of foreboding and danger.

I love moving from one space to the next in my books, as both provide dramatic backgrounds for my characters.