Dark Corners by Megan Goldin features a podcaster. I’ve noticed it’s increasingly common for books to feature podcasters, or true crime web/streaming series and the like, and being able to switch up the narrative with scripts or other text is a useful device for keeping readers’ attention. (Interestingly I wonder how they’ll age. If in 20 years it’ll be the equivalent of us reading about telegrams sent a century ago or radio plays.) Anyhoo, it took me a while to realise this also felt familiar as it is the second in the series featuring Rachel Krall. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not read The Night Swim, as I’d certainly not put the pieces together for much of the novel.
I’ll Leave You With This by Kylie Ladd is the second book I’ve read by the Melbourne-based author and I very much enjoyed 2017’s The Way Back. Ladd brings her experience and expertise as a psychologist in the health system to the table when writing. Here she’s talking about organ donation and legacies of the very tangible kind as well as those less-so.
I sometimes struggle reading books about organ donation as it’s something my family has first-hand experience with, as my father was the recipient of a heart transplant… aged 61 in 2000. I certainly know how someone else’s* generosity benefitted my family – giving my father 11 more years. But am also aware of some of the burden it brings. The guilt, gratitude and fear that can accompany it. And of course I can only imagine the bittersweet impact it has on donors’ families. Seeing ‘part’ of their loved ones’ live on in others.
What a delightful read The One and Only Dolly Jamieson by Lisa Ireland is! I would have read it in a sitting (in the bathtub) had I not had my mother visiting (at the time) and needed to be social and prepare dinner. I was reminded from previous books I’ve read by Ireland, she’s got the ability to create really warm and familiar characters that you feel as if you get to know – and perhaps – befriend, in the few hours you spend with them.
They were a few weeks apart but it bodes well for 2021 that I read two books that I’m rating an easy 4.5 stars – a very rare honour in my world. The first was Linwood Barclay’s new release Find You First and the second, The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor.
This is the third book I’ve read by Tudor but I don’t think it’d appeared in any new release catalogues that I recall so I sent a query after seeing her talk about the book on Twitter. I’d missed her 2020 release, The Other People, but heard great things about it. And thank god I chased for a copy because I freakin’ loved this book. There’s a fabulous twist early and they really don’t stop coming.
The Orphan X (Evan Smoak / Nowhere Man) series by Gregg Hurwitz is a must-read for me. His latest, Prodigal Son, takes readers on a slightly different ‘journey’. Although Evan has supposedly retired from helping the helpless – a promise he made to the US President because of collateral damage from memory – here he gets a request from someone he just can’t refuse.
This is the third novel I’ve read by former journalist Megan Goldin. Her debut The Girl in Kellers Way was published in 2017 and The Escape Room in 2018. Interestingly all three books have felt kinda different. The first was very much domestic noir; the second a suspenseful thriller; and here there’s less of a sense of impending doom. The Night Swim is more about human nature – about people and the things we do. The things we don’t do. For me it also offered a sense of sad wistfulness, a sense of injustice.
Interestingly, though I liked our lead character Rachel, Goldin doesn’t give us a lot of information about her. This book, which I really enjoyed, is very plot driven. And we’re actually offered two mysteries: a rape trial which is the subject of Rachel’s podcast; and a death from 25 years earlier.
The Bluffs is the debut novel by Kyle Perry and a lot of reviewers I know have loved this book. So… my thoughts deviate a little from the norm.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the book. I read it in a sitting and (eventually) turned the pages quickly, keen to learn more.
But it took me a while to get to that point. In fact I almost put it aside (to read later) a few times in the first few chapters.
The structure confused me as did the obvious reference to Picnic at Hanging Rock. I adored Joan Lindsay’s novel but HATED the posthumous final chapter that leapt into the supernatural. So, talk of portals and other realms here almost had me running for the… (ahem) bluffs.
It’s no secret I love this Orphan X series although I’m kinda astounded we’re up to the fifth book already. As each year rolls around and a new adventure appears in my mailbox I have to go back over past reviews to remember exactly what happened in the previous outing. And weirdly, I’m always a book or two out. This time around I’d completely forgotten the plot of book 4 and was thinking we were picking up after book 3. I suspect I’m in denial about the fact this might ultimately come to an end.
Having said that, it really doesn’t matter when you enter this series as Hurwitz does a great job of effortlessly easing new readers into the world of Orphan X. The Nowhere Man.
The backcover blurb is a bit vague so I had no idea going into this book what it was going to be about, so when we get to the…. ummm… secret quite early on, it’s a surprise.
We then cruise along for a while (giving us time to absorb what we’re reading) and towards the end – BAM! – another twist; making this a very strong debut novel by US author, Samantha Downing.