The Scarecrow – Hugh Morrieson

Chosen by Rachel

Neddy Poindexter worries about his pretty sister Prudence when it’s discovered there’s a killer on the loose. Part adventure, part small-town comedy and part horrifying thriller, The Scarecrow is classic Kiwi lit noir.

The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.

➤ “The opening line is brilliant and I knew from this point that I was going to love this book. A show of classic NZ literature, a touch of domesticity and the beginning of a thriller all within a few words. I don’t think any other book has captured me so quickly. Neddy is a wonderful protagonist, a true Kiwi boy whose humility and kindness keep our heads above water as we traipse through the horror. And some truly horrible things do happen, but it’s strange how upon completion, I didn’t dwell upon them, nor was I troubled by them. In my opinion it was the construction of the lovely Neddy that kept me smiling through the horror. If you value NZ literature, I’d suggest this should be top of your reading pile!” – Rachel

➤ “I have to say, The Scarecrow was a bit of an ‘icky’ read. Its sordid, sexual content and the griminess of the poverty and alcoholism portrayed made me feel uncomfortable. Could small-town New Zealand really be so sickly and dark  in the 1950s? What sort of person would write such a thing? Yet, at the same time,  it was an astonishingly clever read! Morrieson drew me in with his vivid descriptions of places and events, and cleverly painted characters. It was a book peppered with unexpected humour, of hope, and of the tenacity of human spirit in the face of adversity. In the end, it shaped up to be one of my favourite (or at least most memorable!) bookclub reads so far.” – Sonya

➤ “This book had me hooked from the start with its fantastic opening line – it truly is one of the best. The disturbing topic matter is numerous with murder, necrophilia and alcoholism just to name a few however I never actually felt disturbed as the writing wasn’t graphic or gratuitous. The main character was endearing and the others well developed – uncle Athol was particularly horrid as well as The Scarecrow himself, the physical description had him sounding utterly repulsive. Some blackly humorous scenes peppered the book and released tension. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that the disturbing themes added to its interest. All up a great NZ book.” – Jo

Published 1963
Angus & Robertson
240 pages

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