Book review: Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Friday, September 17, 2021 Permalink

Such a Quiet Place is the fourth of US author, Megan Miranda’s novels I’ve read. It’s about the aftermath of murder in a (kinda) gated community, setting up an intriguing locked room-type mystery. Almost. To the relief of the locals someone was arrested and convicted of the crime. But there’s now the question of whether they were actually guilty.

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: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Monday, August 30, 2021 Permalink

Zimbabwean-born, London-dwelling author Paula Hawkins is best-known for her debut novel, The Girl on the Train, a book which seemingly paved the way for a slew of unreliable narrators in popular fiction.

A Slow Fire Burning is her third novel and again she offers us strong, flawed and sometimes-unlikeable female characters. In fact there are several on offer here as – like Hawkins’s second book, Into the Water – this unfolds from multiple points of view all offering very different voices, personalities and views on life.

four-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

Book review: Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

Tuesday, August 17, 2021 Permalink

I tend not to buy books if I don’t get them for review because I just have too many books in my TBR pile. I’m also usually either bitterly disappointed if I’ve missed something I’ve requested; or petulant to the point I decide I’m never going to review another book again. #realmature

The blurb for Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham leapt out at me when I saw it advertised but I was very worried I’d missed it until I had it in my fat little (well, medium-sized) hands. It certainly seemed to be offering something quite new and as soon as I started reading I fell in love with the way Billingham has written this book – from the point-of-view of Alice – who’s resplendent with quirks and a smidge of ‘crazy’.*

four-half-stars

Book review: The Last Guests by JP Pomare

Saturday, August 14, 2021 Permalink

The Last Guests by JP Pomare is the fourth book by the NZ born, Australian dwelling writer who’s deservedly building a reputation for being one of the region’s go-to authors of thrillers and novels of suspense.

This is probably my favourite of Pomare’s novels. It starts with a bit of a surprise before settling into something a little more familiar and then suddenly takes readers somewhere we didn’t expect, casting doubt on everything that came before.

four-stars

Book review: Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

Thursday, August 12, 2021 Permalink

A fellow bookblogger told me Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams gave her nightmares. I’m not surprised as there’s something kinda macabre or gothic about it. About the characters, their stories and about the way things unfold.

Parts of this novel are predictable, while others are quite surprising. We spend time going back and forth in two timelines, and Williams times the unravelling of both well, but I wasn’t sure the explanations of the past sufficiently supported the unfolding events of the present.

three-stars

Book review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 Permalink

It has to be said… ‘Oh my god, how many secrets can one family have?’ Although, having said (exclaimed?) that some of the secrets Adler family members are keeping are blown (by the keeper) way out of proportion. Of course, others are doozies, so….

The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding is centred around a family that seems to be just that. And we’re told parents Thomas and Viv work hard to make it appear so. But cracks are appearing. All at once, and it’s a reminder that – from the outside – you never know what’s happening on the inside.

three-half-stars

Book review: Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

Saturday, August 7, 2021 Permalink

I’m a fan of US author Charlie Donlea. I’ve very much enjoyed some of his recent books including The Suicide House and The Woman in Darkness. They all feature past crimes and long-kept secrets and have leveraged popular culture, including podcasts, true crime documentaries (or similar); uncovering missed clues and injustice. Donlea maintains the intrigue and twistiness in his latest, Twenty Years Later.

four-stars