Book review: How to Play Dead by Jacqueline Ward

Thursday, December 19, 2019 Permalink

I read and enjoyed Jacqueline Ward’s The Perfect Ten last year. It was Ward’s debut novel and I notice, in my review, I talk about my enthusiasm to read whatever she would next publish.

Thankfully I’ve now had the opportunity to do that and both books are similarly themed – domestic noir. Men behaving badly, though (at the same time) not bastardising all men; and a reminder of the strength women can find when needed.

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three-half-stars

Book review: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Saturday, November 30, 2019 Permalink

I only requested this book for review recently, though it was released earlier this year. I’ve read two books by Peter Swanson and still remember the beguiling title of his debut… The Girl With a Clock for a Heart.

His novels are satisfyingly twisty with complex characters, usually with frailties and there’s often moral or ethical challenge at the heart of the book. His latest is no different.

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four-stars

Book review: Starting from Now by Fleur McDonald

Sunday, November 3, 2019 Permalink

I’m really enjoying this (interrelated) series by Fleur McDonald. It really doesn’t matter where you enter because each of the books works easily as a standalone. Detective Dave Burrows is the link between books, but each introduces new characters whose stories are central to the plot.

There’s usually a smidge of romance and a crime or two and they’re all set in rural or regional Australia. Given her own farming background, McDonald effortlessly conveys a real sense of the lives our characters lead and she always manages to reflect on topical issues. Here she touches on both new technology being introduced to farming communities as well as the inadvertent impact protestors can have on the animals / communities / subject matter they believe they’re protecting.

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four-stars

Book review: The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Monday, October 21, 2019 Permalink

I was very excited when Michael Connelly started pairing long-time fan favourite Harry Bosch with newcomer Renee Ballard. It is interesting though as I think Ballard’s character is sufficiently strong and charismatic enough to carry a series on her own. Having said that the pair are perfect foils for each other. Partners but not partners. Officially, anyway. And I like there’s a recognition of what it is the other does well (or not) and a mutual respect continuing to grow between the pair.

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four-stars

Book review: Bruny by Heather Rose

Monday, October 7, 2019 Permalink

I’m fairly sure I should be ashamed of the fact that I only heard of Bruny Island recently so had some vague idea where it was. I’d been contemplating attending a writing festival in Tasmania in Huon Valley and discovered that (nearby) Bruny Island is a popular tourist destination.

So… I’d thankfully I had some idea of the context of the setting of this excellent new novel by Australian author Heather Rose which takes place in the not-too-distant future.

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four-stars

Book review: Silver by Chris Hammer

Monday, September 30, 2019 Permalink

Journalist Chris Hammer’s Scrublands – featuring an investigative journalist looking into the seemingly incomprehensible mass shooting by a priest in a small Australian town – was one of my favourite novels of 2018.

It was (is) beautifully written. I still remember the opening paragraphs and pages and how well Hammer transplants we readers into the small town of Riversend.

I was reminded of that in the opening paragraphs and pages of his latest novel, Silver, as he does that very same thing again. We’re there, with Martin as he returns to his childhood hometown and to his memories.

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four-stars

Book review: Snake Island by Ben Hobson

Thursday, August 29, 2019 Permalink

I was on a bit of a reading hiatus when Snake Island by Ben Hobson was published. I wasn’t exactly sure it was the sort of book I’d enjoy… not specifically being crime fiction or a psychological thriller. However, upon reading, it reminded me a bit of Trent Dalton’s excellent Boy Swallows Universe, though traverses less time and the events probably more tragic and futile.

I’ve read a lot of books set in small Australian towns and am very much looking forward to a session I’m attending at BAD Crime Writer’s Festival in Sydney called Country Noir because there’s something about stories set in rural and regional Australia that effortlessly reflect darkness or foreboding (am thinking of Emily O’Grady, Sofie Laguna and Jane Harper, for example). Generally there’s also a sense of community though here readers are left with a sense of some of the characters living in isolation and despair.

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four-stars

Book review: The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante

Monday, August 19, 2019 Permalink

It wasn’t until after I read this book (that) it occurred to me we can’t be that far from the Jane Tennison we eventually meet in the Prime Suspect series. Though I guess a decade is a lifetime in Jane’s world.

In the last book in this series Murder Mile, I commented that there seemed to be less sexist crap (misogynist bullshit I think I said) than in previous novels, but sadly her entry into the all-male Flying Squad, sees Jane yet again struggling with prejudice despite ‘integration’ seven years earlier.

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four-stars

Book review: Where The Dead Go by Sarah Bailey

Monday, August 5, 2019 Permalink

I’ve really been enjoying Sarah Bailey’s crime fiction series featuring Gemma Woodstock. The first novel, The Dark Lake was set in Gemma’s rural hometown of Smithson. The second (which I enjoyed more), Into The Night leapt forward a few years and was set in Melbourne.

And in this latest novel Gemma is on leave when she takes a case in Fairhaven, near Byron Bay. It’s another small Australian town but one characterised by beaches, tourists and caravan parks – offering up a quintessential Aussie coastal town, that’s a little different.

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four-stars