Book review: The Paris Mystery by Kirsty Manning

Thursday, September 22, 2022 Permalink

I’m not shy in sharing my antipathy towards historical fiction. If I read a synopsis and the book is set before 1960(ish) I put it aside.* Worse still novels about events from centuries ago. Perhaps that’ll change at some point. I know my taste has changed over the past couple of decades so maybe I’ll become a reader of historical non-fiction or fantasy novels at some point. Or maybe not.

Although I love Agatha Christie I’ve avoided popular series by Kerry Greenwood and Sulari Gentill (and others) because I’ve assumed I’d feel the same about historical crime fiction. However, after seeing some glowing reviews of Kirsty Manning’s latest release The Paris Mystery, I thought I should dive on in… particularly because it’s the first in a series – testing the waters or something.

four-stars

Book review: Wildflowers by Peggy Frew

Saturday, September 10, 2022 Permalink

Wildflowers is the first book I’ve read by Peggy Frew and I’m torn. Frew’s certainly a talented and emotive writer but I wasn’t as enamoured as I could have been… or perhaps expected to be. I think it’s predominantly because the backcover blurb suggests that the three sisters travel to Far North Queensland to support the youngest to detox in the present. So when the book opens and we meet the middle sister, Nina, I assumed the trip (and main story arc of the book) was yet to come. But instead we discover the trip took place in the past. And that threw me a little. (Though) I’m not sure why.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Liars by Petronella McGovern

Tuesday, August 30, 2022 Permalink

The Liars by Petronella McGovern is the third book I’ve read by the Australian author and my favourite so far, which is probably more to do with the fact that the first two focused more around the parenting of young children whereas this felt like more of a ‘whodunnit’ and appealed more to my age bracket as I could relate to reflecting back on my younger self, thinking of my school days and the dreams I had. Roads taken or not… etcetera. Of course here there’s the added juxtaposition of the next generation on the cusp of similar life experiences and ready to make decisions about their futures.

four-stars

Book review: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 Permalink

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis won the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Fiction prize last year and it’s certainly well-deserved. I note Petraitis has written a number of true crime books and I’m not surprised as her story-telling ability is strong and attention to detail, impressive. This book and the events within felt real, as if we readers are privy to real life pain, anger and guilt.

four-stars

Book review: Rising Dust by Fleur McDonald

Thursday, March 31, 2022 Permalink

Western Australian-based author Fleur McDonald includes a note at the start of this novel, commenting on how this series – featuring a young Detective Dave Burrows ultimately connects to her other (contemporary) series – featuring an older Dave. It’s meant all along those who’ve read both series know about the demise of Dave’s first marriage but McDonald expertly eked that storyline out… until now.

The events of the previous book in this series, Something to Hide, were fairly catastrophic and something from which there’s no going back. McDonald’s latest, features Dave in the aftermath of that, grappling with his future and potentially the loss of his family. Amidst some good old outback crime of course.

four-stars

Book review: Daughters of Eve by Nina D Campbell

Tuesday, March 29, 2022 Permalink

Daughters of Eve by Nina D Campbell opens with a bang and continues from there. I actually chuckled at the opening line and was hopeful the novel might continue in that droll cliché-ridden gumshoe style of voice (cos I miss Robert B Parker!).

It doesn’t but Campbell’s written the novel from the point of view of Detective Emilia Hart, who’s an engaging and likeable lead. She’s not perfect but not overly flawed so certainly relatable, and the perfect host for this debut outing.

four-stars

Book review: Remember Me by Charity Norman

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 Permalink

Remember Me by Charity Norman is the second novel I’ve read by the New Zealand author. It’s centred around Emily, a woman in her 40s, who’s returned to NZ to look after her father who has dementia. In the background lurks the mystery of a young woman who disappeared twenty-five years earlier, setting off to hike an area she knew well, but never returning.

This is more intriguing than edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. Leah’s disappearance casts a shadow over their small town and but also over Emily’s relationship with her father as she unearths secrets hidden for over two decades.

four-stars

Book review: The Cane by Maryrose Cuskelly

Saturday, February 19, 2022 Permalink

The Cane by Maryrose Cuskelly was an unexpected delight. Not because I didn’t think it would offer up a great mystery… which it did. Indeed it’s wonderfully atmospheric. Rural noir at its most noir-ish.

What enchanted me the most was the nostalgia this book brought with it. The blurb mentions the 1970s but I assumed it was going to be set in the present with some reflections on the past, when in fact… all of it is set in the 1970s and – as someone born at the end of the 1960s so in my formative years over the next decade or so – this brought back soooo many memories and Cuskelly effortlessly took me back to my childhood again and again.

four-stars

Book review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, December 21, 2021 Permalink

I used to love Jodi Picoult’s books. Some felt a bit obvious or preachy, or perhaps overly spiritual but they were full of emotion yet subtly poignant. However… after some time they became a bit sameish and it felt like I was reading the same story, with different players and themes in a different setting.

Having said that I very much appreciated some of the themes she’s tackled in a nuanced way recently, such as racism in Small Great Things and women’s reproductive rights in A Spark of Light. I felt like her last book, The Book of Two Ways, was a bit of a departure and I’m afraid I put it aside, the detail of Egyptian history and language being too much for me.

Her latest, Wish You Were Here, is a difficult read to describe. You think it’s going to be one thing. But then it’s not. And for a while I really liked where it was heading. But then there’s a change of direction again. It was obviously an important book to her however and Picoult has written a note in the back describing why she felt impassioned to write it.

four-stars