Book review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Sunday, October 10, 2021 Permalink

I ADORED The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, released in 2020. I loved the comfort and familiarity of his characters and writing.

The Man Who Died Twice is the second in the series but it doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the first. Other than having met the characters before, there’s no backstory really required to pick things up with the residents of Coopers Chase community known as the Thursday Murder Club… a quartet that revisits cold cases from the comfort of the restaurant of their retirement village, usually with a few bottles of wine to lubricate their minds.

four-half-stars

Book review: Prisoner by SR White

Thursday, October 7, 2021 Permalink

SR White’s debut novel Hermit was a real sleeper for me. It lured me in and had me intrigued before throwing in some huge twists. Someone I follow on social media said his next novel Prisoner, also featuring cop Dana Russo, was their favourite book this year, so I went in with high expectations.

Which, in retrospect wasn’t entirely fair as I kept thinking I’d again be blown away by ridiculously inexplicable reveals at the end. He does…. and I suspect they are mind-blowing, but less-so when you’ve been waiting for them.

four-stars

Book review: 2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Friday, October 1, 2021 Permalink

2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox is the sixth collaboration between the prolific US author and Aussie crime fiction writer Fox. I very much enjoyed their Harriet Blue detective series as well as The Inn, which I’d hoped may become part of a series as I liked some of the characters it introduced.

I always wonder how they manage the paired writing (though a friend and I are attempting to also do just that) but most of the books reflect both styles… Patterson’s short sharp chapters that keep you turning the pages, and Fox’s eccentric characters and smart blunt prose.

four-stars

Book review: Forgotten in Death by JD Robb

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 Permalink

JD Robb’s In Death series is a go-to read for me. I’ve not missed any and own most of the series. Forgotten in Death is number 53 and Nora Roberts’s creations – Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her mega-rich hubby Roarke are still going strong.

I hate the ‘guilty pleasure’ phrase as it implies there’s something wrong with what you’re enjoying but (as I’ve said before) these are akin to a comfort read. There’s a predictability – or rather reliability – about the characters and their behaviour as well as the overall story arc, but Robb / Roberts always offers readers a whodunnit that’s a bit different, though I’m not sure how she manages after so many.

three-half-stars

Book review: Treasure & Dirt by Chris Hammer

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Permalink

I’ve very much enjoyed all three books in the Martin Scarsden series by Chris Hammer. I’m constantly surprised how easily the former journalist can transition from reporting cold hard facts to articulating the beauty of the landscape or settings of his books. It’s about his ability to string together words I realise. Something hard to explain or define, but when it’s done well… you know it.

His latest book, Treasure & Dirt, doesn’t feature Scarsden but it’s kinda Scarsden-adjacent as it features police officers we’ve met in that series.

four-stars

Book review: The Raffles Affair by Vicki Virtue

Thursday, September 23, 2021 Permalink

Who knew that Raffles Hotel in Singapore offered a residency program? Well, it does and New Zealand-born Vicki Virtue spent her Writer-in-Residence stint there on The Raffles Affair, featuring ex-MI6 agent Victoria West, now working independently for governments-in-need. Here however, Victoria is attending her close friend’s wedding in Singapore and called upon to do some old school sleuthing.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 Permalink

Sarah Bailey is one of my favourite Australian novelists. I’m a fan of her Gemma Woodstock series which may – or may not – have ended after the third instalment last year. She seems to also be a generous person and happily answered questions for a piece I was writing for my Masters last year (about how / when crime writers decide to end a series).

At the time she was focussed on a new novel, The Housemate, released today in Australia. Again she offers up a likeable but flawed female lead and bounces her off several strong personalities that bring out the best, and worst, in her. I know the whole journey analogy is wanky but I very much liked the journey (well, personal development arc!) Bailey takes our lead, Olive (Oli), on here and the way it complements the unfolding mystery.

four-stars

Book review: Unholy Murder by Lynda LaPlante

Friday, August 27, 2021 Permalink

Unholy Murder is the seventh in the (young) Jane Tennison series. It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I reflected on how Jane’s changed over the course of the books (ie. her career to date). I’m actually quite sure how LaPlante is pacing these but we’re in the 1980s now and obviously getting closer to the original Prime Suspect books and series time-wise.

This series is also a bit of a study in culture and society as – unlike the earliest books – Jane seems to be readily accepted as a police officer now. Definitely respected by her contemporaries and not viewed as an anomaly by the public.

three-half-stars

Book review: Cutters End by Margaret Hickey

Monday, August 23, 2021 Permalink

Critically acclaimed and popular novels by the likes of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer have seen the rise of outback noir on bookstores’ shelves – both in Australia and overseas. It’s so weird to admit this now but until about 2014/15 I didn’t read Australian novels. Particularly not crime fiction or thrillers. I used to say it was because I read to escape and I didn’t want to read about baddies running around the streets of my state capital, Brisbane or back alleys in inner-city Sydney or Melbourne.

That changed at some point (I probably should check when and why) and now I read A LOT of Australian authors, whether their work is set overseas or here in Australia.

Cutters End is Margaret Hickey’s debut novel and is set in South Australia. Its sense of place and the gritty and parched feel of the outback is central to the tone of the novel and is something Hickey manages to sustain throughout.

four-stars