Book review: One for Sorrow by Joanne Tracey

Saturday, April 13, 2024 Permalink

I mentioned on Facebook when One for Sorrow by Joanne Tracey was released that it was kinda bittersweet as Jo and I were going to co-write this series. Though at the time it was going to be themed and titled around astrology with the murder or murderer each time reflecting a zodiac sign*. It didn’t pan out for a myriad of reasons, but mainly because Jo’s an excellent and prolific writer, whereas I’m lucky to keep up with reviews on this website. 

The fact that this book is dedicated to me (I know!!!) AND I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements will probably mean you’ll assume this review will be very biased. You’d be wrong but given reviewing (how we respond to / perceive anything) is subjective it doesn’t matter… but I bloody loved this book. It’s easily my favourite of Jo’s books. Some of that MAY be because I felt a kindredness with Clementine Carter (I was there for her birth, after all) but also because I liked the cast of characters surrounding her and the ‘mystery’ at the heart of this book was just the perfect mix of clue-following-and-secret-discovering. 

Book review: One for Sorrow by Joanne TraceyOne For Sorrow
by Joanne Tracey
Published by Self-published
on 07/04/2024
Source: Purchased
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 0645958735
Pages: 286

When jaded Melbourne divorce lawyer Clementine Carter returns to her Queensland coastal hometown of Whale Bay after a twenty-five-year absence, she figures she’ll fly in, arrange the sale of the beach shack she’s been left in her Aunt Rose’s will, and fly back out.

Once back in Whale Bay, Clem soon discovers that Rose has been locking horns with some of the most influential people in town, and her death might not be as straightforward as she’s been led to believe. It seems someone wants to get their hands on both the beachside property and New Moon, Rose’s New Age shop – and will stop at nothing until they get it.

To complicate matters further, when Clem meets Finn Marella, a local barista and her aunt’s partner in local activism, sparks fly.

Convinced Rose’s death was no accident, Clem sets out, with the help of Finn and some old school friends, to investigate.

With millions of development dollars at stake, can Clem read the clues Rose has left behind and unravel the mystery before it’s too late for her too?

A fair bit of our brainstorming of several years ago remained intact here, but Jo has added layers of complexity. I was very impressed at the deft nuance of the clues that make Clem suspicious that her aunt’s death wasn’t accidental. Knowing her aunt’s routines and puzzling over the smallest of things felt exactly how it could pan out in real life. It’s Clem’s unpicking of those, as well as turmoil simmering in the community over the desire for development and tourist dollars that sets the scene for a plotline that offers many suspects and red herrings. 

Reading this imbued me with a sense of familiarity. Like I knew these people. They felt very real. And it wasn’t just because Jo and I talked about creating them several years ago. They’re the sort of characters you know and recognise. I think I’ve mentioned it before but Jo has the ability to write in a way that’s akin to real life, like you’re dropped in the midst of people’s lives. Listening to them. There’s a casualness about her prose and dialogue that’s effortless, but far from easy to deliver. Yet she does so. Maybe I’m watching too much streaming television at the moment, but I could certainly see this on the big or small screen. (And not just because we’d decided Clemetine would be played by Australian actress Catherine McClements.) 

Because I inherited my father’s ridiculous sense of ‘justness’ I also feel compelled to comment on the fact I got a little confused with some of the local families. There are two wealthy families in town and I couldn’t remember who was related to who. And there were too many men whose name started with M (well, three!).

And on a couple of occasions some of the situations or characters are a little cliched or predictable, but in that Bridget Jones way that is kinda comforting. We all like to see unlikeable people get their comeuppance. 

I’m enjoying Jo’s Philly Barker cosy crime series, but this takes things up a notch. Philly is relatable but still feels a little like a character, whereas Clem feels like a person. I’m looking forward to more in this series and though Clem uncovers some old secrets here, I’m sure there are more to come from Clem’s own past – not to mention the fact we know nothing about (town ‘rake’) Finn’s backstory and how he came to be in Whale Bay. 

One for Sorrow by Joanne Tracey is now available in all of the usual places.

*As well as being a project manager (and more) Jo also knows her astrological stuff and has another website where she shares that. It means she can effortlessly reference star signs and planets and stuff, with legitimacy. But the pragmatic side of her means she won’t get offended when others take the piss make fun of her talents!


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