Book review: Anna O by Matthew Blake

Sunday, February 4, 2024 Permalink

Anna O by Matthew Blake borrows its title from the pseudonym of a patient who inspired (or at least influenced) Freud’s origins of psychoanalysis. Of course the character in this book is referenced thus as she either has resignation syndrome (a withdrawal from life – which IS a real thing), or is faking it to avoid murder charges. Also… her name is Anna (Ogilvy).

This book has been pretty hyped so my expectations were heightened. I received an early copy while at the Theakston Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate last July. I’d expected big things as a result so held off reading it until just before the Australian publication date in early February 2024. And it has to be said my thoughts on it changed many times over the course of its 440-ish pages.

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four-stars

Book review: The Fury by Alex Michaelides

Sunday, January 21, 2024 Permalink

The Fury by Alex Michaelides reminded me very much of Benjamin Stevenson’s Ernest Cunningham books, particularly Everyone on This Train is a Suspect, as our narrator is one of the main characters in the story… playing quite a central role and speaking to us (as if in second person) in a very conversational way. Although it has to be said that our host here, playwright Elliot, is more arrogant than Stevenson’s novelist Ernest.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Permalink

I enjoyed The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor though the end let it down a little for me. I mean, I liked where it finished… but then Cantor went a bit further, and for me, it was one twist too far. That said, this is an intriguing book – several tales within a tale. Within a tale. Or in some ways… fan fiction run amok!

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three-half-stars

Book review: Anatomy of a Killer by Romy Hausmann

Sunday, August 27, 2023 Permalink

This is the second book I’ve read by Romy Hausmann (her first Dear Child, was also translated by Jamie Bulloch) and I’ve enjoyed both. I’m conscious though, some might grapple with the subject matter Hausmann tends to tackle – involving complex family relationships with child-centric themes.

Here we meet 24yr old Ann, home one night for dinner with her father when the police come knocking to accuse him of being a serial child murderer – responsible for nine deaths over a spate of a dozen years.

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four-stars

Book review: Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander

Tuesday, August 8, 2023 Permalink

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander was another freebie in my goody bag at Harrogate’s Theakston Crime Writing Festival in July. Given the state (ie. heaviness) of my luggage, I made a concerted effort to read some of the ARCs while overseas and leave them behind for others to find and enjoy.

Weirdly I’d just read another book about a ‘survivor’ and their guilt (or lies) so this book seemed most apt… although it’s actually quite different and is less about someone lying than about a survivor who’s pushed away memories of a tragic event from a decade earlier.

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three-half-stars

Book review: None of This is True by Lisa Jewell

Wednesday, July 19, 2023 Permalink

The title of Lisa Jewell’s latest book, None of This is True could be seen as offering readers a huge spoiler. And it does and it doesn’t. It – along with the blurb however – warns us that trusting Josie Fair comes with some risks. But Jewell manages to unravel Josie’s story in a way that keeps readers guessing. The book itself unfolds in the present (at the time of [ahem] certain events), and later… when all of the stories have been told and secrets apparently revealed.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon

Friday, June 23, 2023 Permalink

The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon was a proverbial sleeper for me. Not because I thought it wasn’t paced well. I noticed other bloggers, bookstagrammers and reviewers commenting on it being slow out of the gate, some saying they ended up putting it aside. I confess I had ignored it for some time, the blurb making it sound a tad predictable. Hence my surprise when I was intrigued from its opening, with Michallon able to offer multiple voices and give readers insight into the complexities of human nature as we look upon a serial killer who’s also a helpful and thoughtful member of his community, and devoted father.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding

Sunday, June 4, 2023 Permalink

The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding took me by surprise. I read the blurb and made some assumptions. As I started reading and met Lee and Hazel I pictured it… the way it was going to play out. I could see it clearly and felt disappointed. Knowing that what was to come was going to be an anticlimax. Predictable. I’d read many versions of this book before.

So… you can imagine my surprise when the first major twist comes and the book goes in a completely different direction. And it happens not once, not even twice, but three times. Or maybe it was more. I lost count.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Half Brother by Christine Keighery

Friday, April 21, 2023 Permalink

The Half Brother by Christine Keighery is a bit like a car crash. Not in the sense it’s bad. More in the sense that you can see what’s coming but are powerless to stop it. Keighery puts us in the heads of sisters Hannah and Stef – dissimilar but close when we first meet them – and their half-brother Alex… who we learn from the outset has quite a dastardly agenda which means Keighery is able to create a sense of menace that oscillates throughout the novel.

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three-half-stars