Winner of the 2021 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction

When Ivan Novak is shot dead putting out his garbage bins in Sydney’s west, his family wants revenge, especially his father Milan, a notorious crime boss. It’s a job for the second son, Ivan’s younger brother Johnny.

But Johnny loves his wife Amy and their son Sasha. And she’s about to deliver her ultimatum: either the three of them escape this wave of killing or she’ll leave, taking Sasha.

Torn between loyalty to his family and love for his wife, Johnny plans the heist of a lifetime and takes a huge risk. Is he prepared to pay the price? And what choice will Amy make?


ISBN: 9781922330437
Publication date: 2 February 2021
Publisher: Text Publishing

‘Tight and tense, The Second Son is a wonderfully sharp-toothed crime thriller.’

Christian White, author of The Nowhere Child

‘The Second Son is being touted by the publisher as the first bestseller of 2021 and with good cause. This is an assured debut by Peck. The novel snaps along at a cracking pace, is filled with sharply drawn and complex characters, and has a complicated enough plot to keep the reader guessing until the end. Set in the multicultural suburbs of Western Sydney, this page-turner has an authentic Australian flavour without resorting to the rural landscapes that have popularised so many recent Aussie crime novels. Disturbing, fresh, and thoroughly entertaining.’

Meredith Jaffé, author of The Fence and The Making of Christina

‘Fast-paced, great characters, evil plot and a shocking twist right at the end – what more could a crime fan want?’

Karina Kilmore, author of Where The Truth Lies

‘At first glance, The Second Son is a modern-day Godfather that paints a brutal, bullet-ridden picture of gang warfare in Sydney’s western suburbs. Look again, and it’s a compelling exploration of inherited trauma and the endless cycle of violence. Get right up close and it’s a tender story of fear, love and—ultimately—hope. A sharp and striking debut.’

Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place

‘Compelling and gritty, at its heart this crime thriller is also the He says/She says tale of a marriage disintegrating under a Molotov cocktail of toxic masculinity and family honour. Hi-octane, brutal, raw and emotional, this is one striking crime debut.’

Greg Woodland, author of The Night Whistler

‘A tense, sinuous, fast-moving debut where hard answers are given to questions of honour and justice.’

Garry Disher, author of Bitterwash Road, Peace and Consolation

‘Outstanding…a gripping whodunnit. Original and straight from the heart.’

Kate London, author of Gallowstreet Lane and Post Mortem

‘Loraine Peck’s debut novel is as relentless as headlights following you at night, full of spark, simmering violence and outright gang bloodshed.’


The Second Son is quick-plotted union of gangland thriller and domestic suspense set in Sydney’s western suburbs. Amy’s descent into a churning vortex of savagery and mayhem, and her determination to escape it, makes for captivating reading, while Johnny’s struggle to find equilibrium between the conflicting desires of his family hits all the requisite emotional touchstones. Peck keeps the plot boiling with an epic drug heist, a kidnapping, and action aplenty. The relentless velocity will guarantee her plenty of fans, who’ll eagerly await the Novak’s return in the planned sequel.

Simon McDonald, ABA Young Bookseller of the Year 2020. Potts Point Bookstore

Reviews of The Second Son

Booked Out Review

Booked Out Review

It's always nice to read reviews from critics, but it's especially nice to read reviews from people who just love books! I particularly loved this one from Shelleyrae on her blog Booked Out. You can read the full review here.

Review by Maryanne Vagg in Good Reading

Review by Maryanne Vagg in Good Reading

Maryanne Vagg wrote some wonderful words about The Second Son for Good Reading Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @msbookchick and read the transcript below. ________________ Transcript: Reviewed by Maryanne Vagg The Second Son is a very assured debut with a...

Review in The Age

Review in The Age

How fitting that this review would come out today, on International Women's Day. The Second Son is a book about hard men and bad situations, but the characters of Amy and Branka are my way of honoring strong women everywhere. Women who are more often than not, the...

Review by Karina Kilmore in The Herald Sun

Review by Karina Kilmore in The Herald Sun

My fellow crime writer Karina Kilmore, author of Where The Truth Lies wrote a wonderful review of The Second Son for The Herald Sun. Have a read below! Karina was also my lovely conversation partner for my recent online event with Readings. You can watch the whole...

Review in The Weekend Australian

Review in The Weekend Australian

A big thank you to Robyn Walton and The Weekend Australian for the review over the weekend! The article has me in wonderful company with fellow crime writers David Whish-Wilson and Michael Brissenden. ________________ Transcript: The brutal business of gangs Robyn...