The Cleanskin

An intelligent thriller filled with human drama, reminiscent of William Boyd’s Restless. From the dark heart of The Troubles, The Cleanskin is a story of intense human relationships with a cast of flawed and entirely believable characters.

About this book

I needed someone I could trust. Someone others would trust. Someone with no criminal record. With no previous involvement. A cleanskin. Someone to come over, do the job, and go home …

Some days, even Halley can’t find the person she once was. She’s changed her name and no one – least of all her husband and son – knows of her past. No one except Aidan, who turns up one day in her small Australian town and shatters the façade she’s built so carefully.

Aidan is on a mission. But why is he still taking orders from his brother in an English jail – at the cost of his own happiness?

When Aidan forces Halley to face what she’s done, what they discover not only changes their understanding of what happened back then, it changes everything now.

Laura Bloom deftly goes to the dark heart of The Troubles to explore the lingering damage wrought by sectarian conflict on communities, families and individuals. Based on real events, The Cleanskin is a story of intense human relationships with a cast of flawed and entirely believable characters.

In The Mood

It’s February 1946, and Robert Booker is just home from the war. Home is a pretty weatherboard house in Sydney, where his wife, Catherine, is waiting. They haven’t seen each for three years, yet they are separated by so much more than time.

About this book

Robert was surprised when he saw the atom blast on film, the mushroom cloud billowing up to the sky, so peaceful and final-looking. So natural-seeming that this was what would end it. …

…Home was her, Catherine, in her blue cotton dress, dancing to the radio in the living room, the furniture pushed back against the walls to give her space. Him sitting on one of the chairs against the wall, entranced, not just by the glimpses of thigh and garter belt, her skirt in a perpetual flying ruffle, but her energy, her hips and hands and every part of her so alive.


It’s February 1946, and Robert Booker is just home from the war. Home is a pretty weatherboard house in Sydney, where his wife, Catherine, is waiting. They haven’t seen each for three years, yet they are separated by so much more than time.

Robert is haunted by the horrors of what he has seen and done, fighting in the humid jungles of New Guinea, and Catherine is carrying the guilt of her affair with a charismatic US Marine – and other secrets too painful to confront. Her heart divided between two men, she finds herself longing for all she has lost. With so much that’s changed between them, can Catherine and Robert find their way back to each other again?

Through intimately exploring the experience of one couple, and one war, Laura Bloom powerfully humanises the damage wrought by all wars to people everywhere.