Review: The Attack by Catherine Jinks

Title: The Attack by Catherine Jinks
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Robyn Ayres works as the camp caretaker on Finch Island, a former leper colony off the coast of Queensland. Her current clients are a group of ex-military men who run a tough-love program for troubled teens.

The latest crop looks like the usual mix of bad boys and sad boys. Then Robyn takes a second look at a kid called Darren. Last time she saw him his name was Aaron, and Robyn was his primary school teacher. And she was somehow at the centre of a vicious small-town custody battle involving his terrifying grandmother.

Bruising classroom dynamics, manipulative parents and carers and horrendous small-town politics form the backdrop to a nail-biting thriller in which the tensions of ten years ago start to play themselves out, building to a violent climax in the present day.

Robyn escaped the past once. Now it’s back—and this time there’s no way out.


The Attack by Catherine Jinks is a suspenseful, engrossing mystery.

In 2009, Robyn Ayers is an experienced teacher starting over in new town after a heartbreaking betrayal. She is a kindergarten teacher whose school year starts off with a bang.  A couple of her students are a bit of handful but six-year-old Aaron Rooney is troubled with a difficult home-life. Robyn does her best to adhere to school policies and maintain a professional distance but that soon becomes impossible. Aaron is destructive and wildly out of control which she believes is the result of possible abusive. Aaron’s grandmother, Joyce, is caustic, disruptive and prone to making unfounded accusations. Aaron’s mum, Krystal McCall obviously loves her son, but Robyn has trouble keeping her on topic during school meetings. The situation reaches a shocking crescendo that leaves Robyn picking up the tattered pieces of her life once again.

In 2019, Robyn is lives alone on isolated Finch Island where she takes care of the historic site that was at one time a leper colony. She spends most of her days in solitude ensuring the visitors abide by the rules. The island is also used by a group of former military men who run a boot camp for troubled and at-risk boys. This latest group’s behavior is quite challenging right from the very start. Adding to Robyn’s uneasiness is her certainty that teenager Darren King is, in fact, Aaron Rooney. When it appears someone is targeting her, Robyn at first believes Darren/Aaron is responsible. But the quiet teenager’s behavior is quite different than when he was younger and he is asking worrying questions about Krystal. Robyn does not want to probe too deeply and she has enough to worry about with the other antics that are occurring. With the boys’ “graduation” fast approaching, will Robyn finally learn the truth about what happened to Aaron ten years earlier?

The Attack is a tense mystery that seamlessly moves back and forth in time. In 2009, Robyn is a bit idealistic and ill-prepared for teaching in a small town. She quickly discovers the worst part of small-town life occurs when power falls into malevolent hands. Robyn is out of her depth right from the start and when the situation spirals out of control, she learns the hard way the town protects its own. In the 2019, Robyn is suspicious, gruff and outspoken as the boot camp gets off to a rough start. Both iterations of Robyn are likable since it is easy to understand how life has shaped her and her reactions. The well-developed storyline steadily moves toward past and present colliding as Robyn finds herself in increasing danger. With stunning plot twists, Catherine Jinks brings this brilliant novel to a breathless, edge of the seat conclusion.

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