Book review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

Thursday, September 24, 2020 Permalink

I’ve actually just written an assignment for my Masters about Australian crime fiction and mentioned Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry and the rise and rise of rural or outback noir. Released in 2016 The Dry won much acclaim and a lotta love. It’s since been adapted for television and will hit our screens in 2021. And though I’m looking forward to it, I much preferred Harper’s 2019 standalone novel, The Lost Man.

Although her fourth book, The Survivors, has a different feel to Harper’s previous books, it occurred to me there’s a strong theme underpinning all of her novels (including the two Aaron Falk ‘detective-based’ books). It’s one of families, of childhood and long-past legacies, and the impact they continue to have many years later.

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four-stars

Book review: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 Permalink

I read Kimberly Belle’s Dear Wife just months ago. When I read the blurb for her new release Stranger in the Lake it made me worry a little about her take on marriage as both featured missing, murdered and fearful wives.

Interestingly I was a little torn as I read this. Though I enjoyed the book overall, the things I liked about the book and our characters in the beginning ended up being the things that ultimately frustrated me.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Good Teacher By Petronella McGovern

Monday, September 14, 2020 Permalink

I very much enjoyed Petronella McGovern’s Six Minutes when it was published in 2019. It’s currently up for Ned Kelly and Davitt Awards, which are well deserved. And timely… as McGovern’s second book, The Good Teacher has recently been released.

I’d misunderstood this book to be about a well-meaning teacher erroneously accused of something horrendous and having to fight to clear their name… which felt like it’d been done before. But this book is not ‘that’ and includes a range of weighty but deftly-delivered themes.

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four-stars

Book review: The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Sunday, August 30, 2020 Permalink

The Girl from Widow Hills is the third book I’ve read by Megan Miranda and each has been very different though all nice and twisty.

In some ways it’s a familiar premise… a young woman running from her past gets caught up in a murder that means her secrets are uncovered. I fully expected it to be slightly cliched with our lead Olivia, becoming the police’s key suspect. Interestingly however, it’s really only Olivia who second-guesses herself.

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three-half-stars

Book review: Hermit by SR White

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 Permalink

Hermit by SR White is not at all what I expected. Someone else told me the same thing and I didn’t understand what they meant. Weirdly I was intrigued rather than particularly engaged for much of the book. But then things are revealed towards the end that are shocking. Like… beyond-imaginable shocking.

Some of the revelations come from left field and ultimately help us understand the quiet hermit-like man accused of the crime central to this book. There is, however, also a sense of frustration and injustice that the ending brings. And that’s complicated a little by the fact that White ultimately whets our appetite and leaves us wanting more.

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four-stars

Book review: The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

Sunday, August 16, 2020 Permalink

I didn’t get The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle for review but was hearing a lot about it so borrowed it from a friend. Everyone seemed to find it twisty and had a desire to talk about it after they finished. That’s usually a good sign as it might mean you think you know how it ended but are not quite sure. Of course it’s hard for authors to achieve that balance between…. “WTF just happened?” leaving readers confused with too many unanswered questions; and tying everything up neatly with a bow.

This debut novel by New Zealand author Carlyle was probably a tad more predictable than I had anticipated (given the hype). You know what’s ultimately coming but not how, but it’s certainly enjoyable nonetheless.

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four-stars

Book review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Permalink

This is the third novel I’ve read by former journalist Megan Goldin. Her debut The Girl in Kellers Way was published in 2017 and The Escape Room in 2018. Interestingly all three books have felt kinda different. The first was very much domestic noir; the second a suspenseful thriller; and here there’s less of a sense of impending doom. The Night Swim is more about human nature – about people and the things we do. The things we don’t do. For me it also offered a sense of sad wistfulness, a sense of injustice.

Interestingly, though I liked our lead character Rachel, Goldin doesn’t give us a lot of information about her. This book, which I really enjoyed, is very plot driven. And we’re actually offered two mysteries: a rape trial which is the subject of Rachel’s podcast; and a death from 25 years earlier.

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four-stars

Book review: The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

Sunday, August 2, 2020 Permalink

I love Charlie Donlea’s books. In fact, I gave his last, The Woman in Darkness, 4.5 stars which is a rarity for me. I make the point in that book that his titles are always standalones but that I hoped to see one of the characters introduced there (Rory), again.

And, well… he was obviously listening cos, she’s back!*

Having said that, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read The Woman in Darkness as Donlea quickly shares Rory’s quirks and the abilities her autism offers her.

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four-stars