Echo Lake by Joan Sauers is an atmospheric read, set in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It’s an area I don’t know at all but Sauers does a great job of placing readers amidst the frost and drizzle, with the setting very much reflective of the book’s tone, rather than overpowering the unfolding narrative.
Book review: Headcase by Jack Heath
Headcase by Jack Heath is the fourth in the series featuring cannibalistic problem solver Timothy Blake. Annoyingly my review of this book’s predecessor, published in 2020, mentions it ending with a bit of a twist. Alas I shared no spoilers and as I was super keen to read this, I was too impatient to go back and skim Hideout to jog my memory.
It didn’t actually matter however. I’m assuming perhaps that the love of Blake’s life, FBI agent Reese Thistle found out about his flesh-eating predilections and the pair broke up, as here he’s pining for her while working with new partner Zara on a covert CIA operation in the US.
Book review: Clarke by Holly Throsby
Clarke by Holly Throsby was inspired by the high-profile disappearance of a woman (Lynette Dawson) in Australia in the early 1980s. Although the book is centred around the police’s sudden search for the body in the yard of the house in which the fictional Ginny Lawson used to live with her husband, it’s the impact that search has on the house’s new resident and neighbours that makes this a powerful and (ultimately) somewhat poignant read.
Book review: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
One thing Jodi Picoult does and does well is highlight often-fraught realities and force readers to consider their own uncomfortable opinions and assumptions. I’ve mentioned this as she’s written about racism and reproductive rights and (most recently) COVID. Here she tackles a few complex issues – including something I won’t mention as it’s a spoiler.
But we also spend time with a mother – who endured an abusive relationship until her son was 6 years of age – now forced to question whether her son is capable of the same violent behaviour as his father… either inherited DNA infecting his make-up or by witnessing (when young) his father’s actions.
Book review: The Tilt by Chris Hammer
The opening chapter of The Tilt by Chris Hammer is prefaced by a map and a family tree. Now, I know many people LOVE a good map but I’m spatially challenged so tend to avoid them at all costs. And the family tree had me worried that there were so many players we’d need help remembering who was who. But thankfully it’s not the case at all. Instead it gives us context and a reminder how complex lives can be in small communities.
Interestingly I also realised that you sometimes assume there can be no secrets in small towns of intertwined communities and families, but instead it can mean they’re often so well hidden or buried they’re left to fester for years.
Book review: The Paris Mystery by Kirsty Manning
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.
Book review: Wildflowers by Peggy Frew
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.
Book review: The Liars by Petronella McGovern
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.
Book review: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis
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.