Book review: Dead Horse Gap by Lee Christine

Friday, February 4, 2022 Permalink

Dead Horse Gap by Lee Christine is the third book I’ve read by the New South Wales-based author. They’re part of a series but Christine’s able to fairly easily provide context so it’s not problematic if you come in partway through. Reading them as a series though, does allow you to know the characters a little better and gives readers a sense we’ve travelled on that journey (#sorrynotsorry) with them. It’s particularly true in the case of two newer police officers, Mitch and Nerida, who benefit from the guidance and experience of their boss DS Pierce Ryder.

The series is set in and around the Snowy Mountains and as it’s not an environment I’m at all familiar with, I love the ease with which Christine is able to place readers amidst the snow fields, reflecting the crisp clean icy weather and the difficult terrain.

four-stars

Book review: Deception Creek by Fleur McDonald

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 Permalink

Every time I review one of Fleur McDonald’s Detective Dave Burrows books I feel compelled to mention there are TWO series featuring Burrows. A contemporary series in which he appears but the lead character is often loosely linked to one from the previous book in the series. And then there’s the young Dave Burrows series, set a decade or two earlier, when he first becomes a police officer.

I also always comment on the authenticity McDonald’s own background as a farmer lends to her work. Not only does she effortlessly drop in details about farming life (stuff about cattle or crops and prices or new technology) but many of her characters promote the role of women in agriculture and which the author herself does as well.

four-stars

Book review: The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton

Thursday, September 16, 2021 Permalink

I’ve seen The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton billed as a crime thriller or a gothic mystery. In reality it’s less about a mystery to be solved or any present threat, and more about secrets and pasts that need to be faced up to.

Manton offers a strong and pervasive sense of place here. Lovers of flora, fauna and of nature in general will certainly adore her prose as she so richly describes life in outback Australia.

three-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: Crackenback by Lee Christine

Saturday, January 30, 2021 Permalink

Crackenback by Lee Christine is the second book in the series featuring Sydney Homicide Squad Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read its predecessor, Charlotte Pass that introduces Ryder and his partner Detective Flowers, along with Ryder’s love interest Vanessa.

This book is centred around ski lodge manager Eva and her delightful three year old daughter Poppy. I must confess I couldn’t remember if we’d met them in Charlotte Pass, and though reference is made to the events of that book and Vanessa, we learn that Eva is her sister.

four-stars

Book review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

Friday, November 6, 2020 Permalink

I’m a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, though I was a latecomer to the series. And I absolutely adore Detective Renee Ballard. I also gave a rare 4.5 stars to the third in the (journalist) Jack McEvoy series earlier this year.

I just commented in another review that I like the way Connelly crosses characters over and has them appear, a little or lot, in other series.

The Law of Innocence is a Mickey Haller (aka Lincoln Lawyer) novel. And it wasn’t until I read this I realised I’ve only read one other in this series. Haller’s featured in other books I’ve read—briefly—but it occurred to me when reading this… I don’t actually like him all that much. And I wonder if Connelly intends for us to find him a tad disagreeable and socially-challenged, or if I’m alone in my antipathy. Or perhaps, because Haller’s own freedom is on the line here, he’s more self-absorbed and indignant than usual?

three-half-stars

Book review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Permalink

West Australian-based author Fleur McDonald has two series featuring outback detective Dave Burrows on the go. One is set in the present and the other in the past – not long after Burrows became a cop. The present day series is interrelated so Burrows is usually investigating a case but there are other characters central to the plot of that particular novel. In the last outing in that series, Starting From Now, we met investigative journalist Zara Ellison, who returned to small-town Barker to be near her dying brother. The likeable Zara stayed and returns to play a lead role here as well.

four-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.

four-stars

Book review: Blunt Force by Lynda LaPlante

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Permalink

In my review of the previous book in the (young) Jane Tennison series (The Dirty Dozen) I commented that I thought Jane was finally becoming more accepted by her male colleagues. Of course in that book she’d been appointed to the Flying Squad (the Sweeney) and very excited about it until she learned she was part of an experiment and—of course—things didn’t go as planned.

When Blunt Force opens she’s still a Detective Sergeant but posted to a small station and bored shitless. She’s there with colleague Spencer who’s also in the bad books and been sidelined. On a positive note… though she still seems to be the one fetching lunch and making tea and coffee, she and her abilities as a copper seem to be respected by her new colleagues.

Happily for Jane (and Spencer) they pick up a grisly murder case so get to escape the boring pickpockets and petty thefts.

four-stars