Book Review: The Newcomer by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

When her 29-year-old daughter Paulina goes missing on a sleepy pacific island, Judy Novak suspects the worst. Her fears are soon realised as Paulina’s body is discovered, murdered.

Every man on the island is a suspect, yet none are as maligned as Paulina herself, the captivating newcomer known for her hard drinking, disastrous relationships, and a habit for walking alone. But even death won’t stop Judy Novak from fighting for her daughter’s life.


Judy Novak fears the worst when her 29-year-old daughter, Paulina, goes missing on a pacific island where strangers stand out.

When her daughter’s body is found, every man on the island becomes a suspect.

As the investigation begins, Paulina’s behaviour prior to her death comes under scrutiny; her heavy drinking, her disastrous relationships and a habit for walking alone.

Judy won’t stop fighting for her daughter though.

The premise for this novel intrigued me and so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The Newcomer by Laura Elizabeth Woollett.

Wow is what I want to say about this book. I am not sure what I can say without giving too much away but I will give it a go.

From page one, this story draws you in and immediately I was hooked. It’s a crime novel, yes but there are so many more layers to it.

Let’s begin with Paulina. She’s such a complicated character. I felt sympathy, frustration, love and anger toward her. Sometimes, it was all of these feelings at once. She moves to this island in search of something. To begin with, I don’t think even she knows what this is. She’s dealing with so many internal demons and as a result, she acts out in the only way she knows how. Paulina is a perfect example of ‘don’t judge a book by a cover.’ She is hiding a lot under an extroverted/alcohol induced personality. Most of all though, she just wants love. Laura Elizabeth Woollett does such a great job of conveying how lost and broken Paulina is.

Jesse, like the island he lives on, is mysterious and I couldn’t really figure out how he was going to slot into Paulina and Judy’s story, at least not at first.
Every character in this story, like in real life, isn’t simply good or bad – although some characters are harder to forgive than others. Everyone is going through something.

The pace of the story is fast and keeps you wanting to turn the page. The narrative does jump from past to present and between characters quite a lot so that did take a bit of getting used to. However, I feel it added to the overall pace and helped build tension and suspense.

The themes are very dark and the plot and dialogue was quite brutal in places. The author hasn’t been afraid to tackle subjects such as victim blaming, domestic violence and alcoholism and does so well. There were some parts I did find quite hard to read.

To say I enjoyed this novel, considering the subject matters and what Paulina goes through wouldn’t feel right.

I did find it compelling, interesting, thought-provoking and eye-opening.

The Newcomer is a unique crime/thriller novel that takes you way beyond the crime and into the psyche of the people involved. It has me thinking of these characters long after reading the last page.

This was my introduction to Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s novels, but it won’t be the last book of hers I read.

(Great name by the way, Laura. I’m also a Laura Elizabeth.)



About Laura Elizabeth Woollett: 

Laura Elizabeth Woollett was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

Her first book The Wood of Suicides (2014) is a psychological novel about a student’s affair with her English teacher.

Her second book The Love of a Bad Man is a collection of fictional imaginings of the real-life wives, mistresses, and accomplices of historical ‘bad’ man.

She is currently based in Melbourne. Her latest novel, The Newcomer was released by Scribe on 9th December 2021. Click to buy at Amazon UK and Amazon AU.

Say hi to Laura Elizabeth on Twitter or via her website. 

Thank you to Scribe for the advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review. 


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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