In 1882, dismembered human remains were discovered at a lonely campsite called the Sinkings near Albany, Western Australia. The surgeon conducting the autopsy claimed the remains were those of a woman. Why, then, was the victim identified as Little Jock, a sandalwood-cutter and former convict? And why was the murder so brutal, so gruesome? More than a hundred years later, Willa Samson embarks on a search to find out why in this novel. A recluse after having lost her daughter, Willa is drawn back into the world as she negotiates and researches various archives, communicates with family historians, and journeys to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, looking for clues to her questions.
The Sinkings is a story within a story, the portrayal of a figure from the margins of history embedded within a contemporary narrative of a mother's guilt and grief.
Beautifully crafted, this novel deals with the dilemma confronting parents of an intersexed child and of coming to terms with gender identification.
While the book is a work of fiction, the discovery of Little Jock's remains and the controversy surrounding their identification are actual events.