Book review: Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic

Tuesday, December 29, 2020 Permalink

Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic is the second in her Alex Clayton Art series. I met Katherine at the BAD Sydney Crime Writers’ Festival in September 2019 and she’d been nominated for a prestigious Ned Kelly Award for the first in that series, The Portrait of Molly Dean.

I bought that book soon after and very much enjoyed it. The Shifting Landscape was released in early 2020 and I assumed it was the sequel, forgetting about the time lag involved in award nominations. It wasn’t until I started that book I realised it was the third in the series and I’d missed one in between. That’s now been rectified and I’m glad I’ve read Painting in the Shadows as it’s probably my favourite in the series to date.

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four-half-stars

Book review: White Throat by Sarah Thornton

Monday, November 23, 2020 Permalink

This is the second in the series by Sarah Thornton featuring former lawyer Clementine Jones. We learned in the first outing Lapse, that Jones had been convicted of drink driving and a woman died as a result – although I did think there was perhaps more to that story. She spent a lot of time in the first novel keeping that secret, but it’s not the case here and her history seems to be more accessible.

Lapse was set in Katinga in rural Australia, but this opens with (the elegant) mention of tidal flats and the ocean. Here Jones is housesitting and Thornton certainly offers eloquent imagery of Australia’s coastline. The setting was of interest to me as it’s actually in my back yard… near the Great Sandy Straits, set in the tiny fictional town of Piama. (I assume it’s fictional as I’ve never heard of it.)

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes

Saturday, November 14, 2020 Permalink

The Mitford Trial is the fourth in the series by Jessica Fellowes. Each of the books focuses loosely on one of the (in)famous Mitford sisters (of which there were five, as well as a brother). I hadn’t realised when I embarked on the first book in the series, The Mitford Murders that the Mitford family actually existed and that the girls in particular quite well known.

These books are fiction, but based on true events and Fellowes includes historical notes at the end of each book. The Mitford Trial is set over a few years in the early 1930s and we’re edging closer to the second world war. The mystery at the heart of this book very much reflects the involvement of Mitford family members drawn to fascism and communism and their allegiances with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

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three-half-stars

Book review: Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 Permalink

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza, released a year ago, introduced Kate Marshall. I was a little wary in my review as it opens with Kate, a police officer, on the verge of breaking a major case involving a serial killer. But then it’s quickly over – she catches the baddie… who happens to be her boss and lover.

The book then flicked forward fifteen years and we again meet Kate, now lecturing in Criminology at a University. We get some backstory and learn she didn’t become a hero: rather her affair became public; she left the police force in disgrace; became an alcoholic; lost custody of her son (to the aforementioned serial killer); before regaining control over her life. In Nine Elms she gets pulled into investigating a copycat case however along with her assistant Tristan.

And here, Kate’s again playing detective after discovering the body of a college student.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

Friday, November 6, 2020 Permalink

I’m a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, though I was a latecomer to the series. And I absolutely adore Detective Renee Ballard. I also gave a rare 4.5 stars to the third in the (journalist) Jack McEvoy series earlier this year.

I just commented in another review that I like the way Connelly crosses characters over and has them appear, a little or lot, in other series.

The Law of Innocence is a Mickey Haller (aka Lincoln Lawyer) novel. And it wasn’t until I read this I realised I’ve only read one other in this series. Haller’s featured in other books I’ve read—briefly—but it occurred to me when reading this… I don’t actually like him all that much. And I wonder if Connelly intends for us to find him a tad disagreeable and socially-challenged, or if I’m alone in my antipathy. Or perhaps, because Haller’s own freedom is on the line here, he’s more self-absorbed and indignant than usual?

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Permalink

West Australian-based author Fleur McDonald has two series featuring outback detective Dave Burrows on the go. One is set in the present and the other in the past – not long after Burrows became a cop. The present day series is interrelated so Burrows is usually investigating a case but there are other characters central to the plot of that particular novel. In the last outing in that series, Starting From Now, we met investigative journalist Zara Ellison, who returned to small-town Barker to be near her dying brother. The likeable Zara stayed and returns to play a lead role here as well.

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four-stars

Book review: Snow by John Banville

Sunday, November 1, 2020 Permalink

I saw Irish author John Banville interviewed on television just over a decade ago. I’m not sure if he spoke about a book in particular or his creative process but I was sufficiently intrigued to borrow his recent release, The Infinities, on my next library visit.

Now I’m fairly obtuse so usually shy away from anything metaphorical and I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting myself into. But I do recall being enchanted by the book… which is ostensibly about a dying man and his family. Not to mention some meddlesome immortals or gods. In my blissful haze I borrowed his better-known Booker Prize winning The Sea. I wasn’t using Goodreads at the time so my reaction isn’t there but I’m fairly sure (from memory) I barely made it a chapter or two when I put it aside. Its…. weighty slang-ridden prose far too erudite for moi.

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three-half-stars

Book review: Shadows In Death by JD Robb

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 Permalink

Shadows In Death is the 51st in the futuristic cop series by JD Robb. So, author Nora Roberts (writing as Robb) is obviously doing something right. The series kicked off in 1995 but—as I’ve mentioned before—our characters traverse time slowly so, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire hubby really only exist when we’re there to see them. Just like Santa Claus. Except the opposite.

Here, Robb offers us something a little different. The ‘crime’ in question happens early, which isn’t uncommon. But usually we would spend the rest of the novel trying to work out whodunnit. Here Eve and her offsider, the delightful Detective Delia Peabody solve this pretty quickly. It’s murder for hire but things get complicated when Roarke’s (kinda sordid and unlawful) past comes back to haunt him (and those he cares about).

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Saturday, September 5, 2020 Permalink

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman came as a huge surprise. I’d requested it thinking it sounded a bit quirky but at the same time unsure I wanted to hang with a bunch of old people talking murders.

But it’s addictive. It’s cleverly-written, extremely funny and offers up some delightful characters. It reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Britt-Marie was Here and The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village. With a side or two of murder thrown in for good measure.

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four-half-stars