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The Coves

Written by David Whish-Wilson


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San Francisco, 1849: a place gripped by gold fever, swarming with desperate men come to seek their fortune. Among them are former convicts, Australians quick to seize control in a town without masters, a town for the taking. Into this world steps an Australian boy in search of his mother. Just twelve years old, and all alone in a time of opportunism, loyalty and violent betrayal, Samuel Bellamy must learn to become one of the Sydney Coves if he is to survive.


'The Coves by David Whish-Wilson is a stunning historical fiction novel about survival and greed, and the inherent human pursuit of wealth...a true gem, providing a vivid and visceral glimpse into a time-period characterised by extreme change and cultural tension.' Better Reading

‘A clever tale of criminal plots, family bonds, and the birth of a new world. Holds like a vice and never lets go. Every turn of the page builds the pressure.’ Rohan Wilson

The Coves is what happens when Australian criminals take over Deadwood.’ Paul Daley

‘A lyrical coming-of-age tale and an historical crime novel, lit by something fresh, honest and generous.’ Joan London

'... a fascinating novel. Whish-Wilson succeeds in providing an engaging access point into this aspect of Australian/US history, while also presenting an interesting way of understanding coming-of-age.' Westerly Magazine

'entertainingly delivers a nugget of Australian history possibly little known heretofore.' Adelaide Advertiser

'This unique style, paired with suspense, action, and Sam's daring narration that introduces the forgotten and brutal world of Sydney Town, makes The Coves fascinating, fun and fast reading, once you adjust to the rollicking kilter of 18th-century English. And just as dark parts of human nature flourish — the greed, bloodthirst and violence — so too do the redemptive parts.' Good Reading

'You can almost smell the stench of unwashed bodies, blood and gore in this no-holds barred coming-of-age tale.' Fremantle Herald

'He nevertheless tells a vivid adventure story and at the same time reveals a little-known chapter in Australian–American history.' Australian Book Review

'As a snapshot of a rather sordid chapter in Australian history – not taught in our schools – there is considerable merit in the telling of this story.' Queensland Reviewers Collective

'Fans of David Whish-Wilson’s trilogy of crime novels featuring Frank Swann will recognise his superb storytelling style and elegant prose in this gripping new work of historical fiction that binds the Swan River colony to gold rush era California ... This lively, engaging novel, which is based on historical events and characters, will appeal to a wide range of readers and offers many talking points for book clubs.' Writing WA

ISBN 9781925591279 (Paperback)
Formats B+ Format (205 x 138mm) (Paperback)
Categories ebooks
Father's Day 2021
Book Club Reads
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2018
Pages 224
Rights World
  • David whish wilson website

    David Whish-Wilson

    David Whish-Wilson is the author of seven novels and three creative non-fiction books. He was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, but raised in Singapore, Victoria and Western Australia. He left Australia aged 18 to live for a decade in Europe, Africa and Asia, where he worked as a barman, actor, street seller, petty criminal, labourer, exterminator, factory worker, gardener, clerk, travel agent, teacher and drug trial guinea pig. David’s first novel in the Frank Swann crime series, Line of Sight (Penguin Australia), was shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award in 2012. He has since written three more in the series: Zero at the Bone, Old Scores and Shore Leave. The first three books in the series have also been published in Germany by Suhrkamp Verlag. David wrote the Perth book in the NewSouth Books city series, which was shortlisted for a WA Premier's Book Award. He currently lives in Fremantle, Western Australia, with his partner and three children, where he teaches creative writing at Curtin University. Read more