Searching For Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward – Book Review



Sylvia has been missing for thirty years. Will her daughters ever find her?
Tordorrach is 70,000 acres of drought stricken land in the Australian outback. Why do a group of wealthy people from London want to buy it?

Seamus, the owner of Tordorrach, lives in poverty. His homestead is derelict and he is heavily in debt. The new owners run Outback Experience holidays on Tordorrach. Seamus becomes one of the gardeners, and he and his wife Mary move to a comfortable cabin on the property. Why does he hate the new owners so much that he plans to murder one of them?

The idyllic life of the new owners is shattered when the body of a woman is found buried on Tordorrach. Forensics find a bullet in her body. Who was she? And who murdered her?




Set in Australia, this is a family drama with a twist…

It starts with Paul, a solicitor who comes home to his wife how tells hims she is leaving him for someone else….leaving her boring life and boring husband…..He decides it’s time for a new life and leaves Sydney for a small, remote town of Cobar.

He continues to work as a solicitor and loves his new life….then comes a mystery buyer of the near derelict homestead, Tordorrach. The current owner, Seamus is reluctant to sell to the English despite being heavily in debt, but eventually sells. Seamus is a nasty, belligerent piece of work and alienates everyone around him including his long suffering wife, Mary.

The new buyers are all related, and lived at Tordorrach many years before and are still troubled by the sudden disappearance of Sylvia, mother to Grace and Juliet at the time. They employed a private detective, but unfortunately nothing could be found….

They also find an old journal written by an ancestor, which adds a little history to the family.

A lot of this story is about the renovation of Tordorrach and the setting up of a new business, from the cabin fittings to menu’s, which helps builds a wonderful picture of the estate, the new owners and their relationships amongst themselves and those around them.

A body is then found, buried a long time ago……murdered… this Sylvia? And just who In this small town knows what happened?

All is revealed in an emotion packed confession, will this be the end of it now ? ….

A slowly paced but totally immersive read from start to finish….I really enjoyed it.

Thank you to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook  in exchange for my honest, unbiased review

You can buy a copy here (click on the image)


Joanna Stephen-Ward was born in the Australian outback, and grew up in Melbourne. Her school days were spent dreaming about being an opera singer or a writer. To the exasperation of her parents and teachers she spent her final year sitting at the back of the classroom writing a novel set in WW2.

When she left school she went to an opera school where she was taught drama, movement and language pronunciation and had small roles in the workshop productions. She was not good enough to become a professional opera singer, but the seeds of her novel Vissi d’arte were sown.

She left Australia and spent a year travelling around Europe and the UK. While working in outpatients for the NHS she met Peter and they married in 1985. They lived in Richmond Surrey and she worked at The National Archives, an enthralling place for anyone interested in history or crime.

Having been brought up as a lonely only child, she was astonished to discover in 2010 that she was one of eight children. She and her sister had last been together on a verandah in the outback when they were babies. They had a joyous reunion in Cornwall in 2012.

Joanna has written seven novels and is working on her eighth.

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2 responses to “Searching For Sylvia by Joanna Stephen-Ward – Book Review”

  1. Thank you, Lesley, for such a great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure 😊


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