Judgement Day by Mali Waugh is essentially a police procedural but we dip enough into the world of the judiciary that it equally qualifies as a legal procedural. Either way it’s an excellent debut by Waugh and gives us a twisty crime to solve and infuses just enough of the non-investigative stuff to offer up characters of substance I’d like to meet again.
The Resemblance is a debut novel by former professor Lauren Nossett and she certainly writes what she knows as this is set on a University campus and delves into the culture of fraternities as well as the camaraderie that goes along with those in their late teens or early twenties thrown together – often by chance… and privilege.
I enjoyed most of the novel but felt a little let-down by the end. I think it’s possible to guess what is going to happen but I expected a bit more of a twist, hoping Nossett would take the book in a different direction. It was, I think, a lost opportunity to add another layer without convoluting the why and whodunnit.
Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor won several awards before it was even published, taking out the Kill Your Darlings (literary magazine) Unpublished Manuscript Award and being shortlisted for Penguin’s Literary Prize. And it’s certainly worthy of those accolades, in addition to the glowing reviews I’ve been seeing on social media.
Scrivenor’s writing is stunning and her character development and story arc (here) perfectly paced. She manages to offer readers both a sense of urgency – in the search for a missing girl – but also recreate that small-town (claustrophobic) laconic pace so you can feel the town, its occupants and secrets, dragging you down.
I’ve actually just written an assignment for my Masters about Australian crime fiction and mentioned Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry and the rise and rise of rural or outback noir. Released in 2016 The Dry won much acclaim and a lotta love. It’s since been adapted for television and will hit our screens in 2021. And though I’m looking forward to it, I much preferred Harper’s 2019 standalone novel, The Lost Man.
Although her fourth book, The Survivors, has a different feel to Harper’s previous books, it occurred to me there’s a strong theme underpinning all of her novels (including the two Aaron Falk ‘detective-based’ books). It’s one of families, of childhood and long-past legacies, and the impact they continue to have many years later.
I’ve mentioned it a zillion times so you may be aware I don’t read non-fiction. I had heard however, a lot of good things about first, we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson. And given everything happening at the moment, it seemed like a good time to dive into the beast-infested waters.
Wilson is of course known best for her I Quit Sugar initiative, program and books. For some reason I’d thought she’d separated herself from that movement but it’s mentioned a bit here. Although this book was first released in 2017.
I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t get the title reference until I was writing this review. It should be obvious, I mean the book opens with our delightful narrator Allegra explaining that her superpower is splitting in two… offering one half of herself to each of her beloved grandmothers, before mentioning her father’s presence, but in my defence I read the book when my brain was weary, so….
Having said that, I did initially take it into the bathtub for a ‘short’ read before organising my dinner and so forth, but was still there until I closed the last page nearly three hours later.
Sally Hepworth’s books seem to be getting better and better… or more likely, they were always good and perhaps my taste is changing or evolving.
I usually prefer mysteries or thrillers and The Mother-in-Law isn’t quite that. I mean, it is about a death – a potential murder and the lead-up to it… so there’s an element of suspense, but it’s so much more. In many ways it’s a complex study of relationships: those between husband and wife or lovers; between parents and children; between siblings; between colleagues and friends; and (of course) those with our in-laws.
I enjoyed The Dry and Force of Nature, and felt both were complex / multilayered mysteries (more robust than most) and think Harper does an amazing job of placing readers in the harsh Aussie outback, but I’ve not been as frantic a fan as many.
Although there’s a vague reference to her former novels (via the locale of The Dry) The Lost Man by Jane Harper is seemingly a standalone. It’s a mystery, but not in the traditional sense and it’s actually my favourite book of hers so far.
I started reading this new release by the ever-popular Liane Moriarty after a dinner out with friends during which I spoke about a health retreat I’d been to in 2000. I’d planned four weeks in Italy (which is where I’ll be FINALLY when this review goes live) but at the time I was living in East Timor (in my previous life as a diplomat) and stressed out of my little brain; so instead blew the same amount of money on three weeks at a health retreat in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, called The Golden Door (which has now closed).
The experience was life-changing. At the time.
So it was very freaky when I lolled in the bath at 10pm after the dinner to make a start on Nine Perfect Strangers (not remembering anything about the blurb or the book) to discover it is – in fact – centred around the lives of nine (not-so-perfect) strangers who attend a health retreat. WAAAAAY freaky!