Only Killers and Thieves

A Novel
Narrated by: David Linski
Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (92 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $30.79

Buy for $30.79

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel - a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia - reminiscent of Philipp Meyer's The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, 14-year-old Tommy and 16-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them - their former Aboriginal stockman - the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father's former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the "dispersal" of indigenous Australians to "protect" white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life - and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Re-creating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer's The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire's The North Water.

©2018 Paul Howarth (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Only Killers and Thieves

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    67
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    47
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Slow build to a powerful story

I would describe this a a very deliberately-paced story, and that is meant as praise for the author's ability to establish the settting and characters. The writing is almost cinematic - I could visualize the scenes so clearly ( be forewarned, there is horrific violence, vividly discribed, so this isn't for the faint-hearted). The story is somewhat predictable, but this is a morality tale, not a tale of suspense. I thought the ending was poignant and haunting.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The West Down Under

“Death is inevitable. Regardless, it comes. A man walks to the gallows and never thinks to try and run. Stands obediently while the bag is draped and the noose is hung. Waits patiently for the trap door to fall.” On this uplifting note, Paul Howarth launches a grim story of drought and hardship in the Australian outback of the 1880s. It is a deeply textured description of time and place, and a wrenching plot involving murder, racism and treachery as two boys come of age, faster than they would have liked. The book is certainly reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” and the coldblooded Inspector Edmund Noone could be the reincarnation of McCarthy’s Judge Holden. The story unreels slowly, but relentlessly, and in the last two hours builds to a memorable conclusion. David Linski’s narration is authentic, subdued, and perfect for the tone of a tragic account of a frontier existence that carries echoes of the American West.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

You can lose your childhood out here...

Two brothers, Billy and Tommy are recent orphans and try their hand at revenge when their Father's former rival and neighbor, Sullivan,"saves" them by offering to help find the men responsible for the deed. With no one else to turn to, the brothers find that they are forced to become more than men, but outlaws instead. Of the worse kind. With a small, armed posse of men, including a somewhat religious lawman named Noone with his own hidden agenda for hunting the indigenous people, they track down the party they believe are to blame for their loss. I can't say that this book won't bring tears or isn't cringe worthy when they describe the horrible acts that the brothers do, some by their own choice and others not so much, but they aren't the same boys by the end of it. They're not even men, in my opnion. Each heinous action takes them further from decency and humanity while keeping them indebted to their saviour, but you (the reader) can't help but "grow" as a result of this book; however, this isn't a book for enjoyment. This is more for survival. You realize that there are still "men" like this out there and that if you see any signs of them like you're reading in this book, you should run because they will catch and murder the good that makes you you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

No country for old men meets Quigly Downunder

I feel like the character development and the descriptive details are first class. Linski’s narration is near flawless as each character is as unique in voice as Howarth brings to life their conflicted souls.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

how hum

not too sure if it was the story or the manner in which it was delivered. This author is so far from the prose of Cormac McCarthy I can't believe someone had the audacity to make this comparison, oh well... how hum.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Must read!

Wow kept thinking this would be an awesome movie!! Characters were so uniquely interesting and story moved smoothly and held our interest to the end. Narration was superb as well!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Tremendous Story

Loved every sentance. Riveting, human and characters that are real. excellent. This story will part of many libraries.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

very so-so

entire plot uncovered in the first chapter or two, then there's nothing left to find out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Blood Meridian for the southern hemisphere.

Paul Howarth has envisioned a view of colonialism that's right at home with current models of politically correct movements across the west. Apart from it's rather one sided and largely incorrect account of the settlement of Australia; which we allow him for this work of fiction, the novel is solid. What is most striking is his accomplishment in the character of inspector Noon, a looming, almost mythical character moving through the land like a reincarnation of McCarthy's, Judge Holden or Kurtz of Conrads Heart of Darkness.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Australian Blood Meridian

Well deserved 5 stars. This story is excellent, but this Narrator is over the top. Noon is one of my all-time favorite audiobook characters now. This read is savage man. I couldn't help feeling the same way I did while reading Mcarthy's "Blood Meridian". Just pure, open-mouthed disgust at the situations portrayed. In a good way. I loved this one. I now have an interest in Australian history. Check it out, you'll like it.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dave
  • Dave
  • 08-27-19

Great story set in the wilds of Australia

Well written and great narration. Two brothers Billy and Tommys world is shattered and they join in with a nasty bunch for revenge. But it's not straight forward. Really enjoyed this.