Book review: Treasure & Dirt by Chris Hammer

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Permalink

I’ve very much enjoyed all three books in the Martin Scarsden series by Chris Hammer. I’m constantly surprised how easily the former journalist can transition from reporting cold hard facts to articulating the beauty of the landscape or settings of his books. It’s about his ability to string together words I realise. Something hard to explain or define, but when it’s done well… you know it.

His latest book, Treasure & Dirt, doesn’t feature Scarsden but it’s kinda Scarsden-adjacent as it features police officers we’ve met in that series.

four-stars

Book review: Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Friday, September 17, 2021 Permalink

Such a Quiet Place is the fourth of US author, Megan Miranda’s novels I’ve read. It’s about the aftermath of murder in a (kinda) gated community, setting up an intriguing locked room-type mystery. Almost. To the relief of the locals someone was arrested and convicted of the crime. But there’s now the question of whether they were actually guilty.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton

Thursday, September 16, 2021 Permalink

I’ve seen The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton billed as a crime thriller or a gothic mystery. In reality it’s less about a mystery to be solved or any present threat, and more about secrets and pasts that need to be faced up to.

Manton offers a strong and pervasive sense of place here. Lovers of flora, fauna and of nature in general will certainly adore her prose as she so richly describes life in outback Australia.

three-stars

Book review: The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 Permalink

Sarah Bailey is one of my favourite Australian novelists. I’m a fan of her Gemma Woodstock series which may – or may not – have ended after the third instalment last year. She seems to also be a generous person and happily answered questions for a piece I was writing for my Masters last year (about how / when crime writers decide to end a series).

At the time she was focussed on a new novel, The Housemate, released today in Australia. Again she offers up a likeable but flawed female lead and bounces her off several strong personalities that bring out the best, and worst, in her. I know the whole journey analogy is wanky but I very much liked the journey (well, personal development arc!) Bailey takes our lead, Olive (Oli), on here and the way it complements the unfolding mystery.

four-stars

Book review: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Monday, August 30, 2021 Permalink

Zimbabwean-born, London-dwelling author Paula Hawkins is best-known for her debut novel, The Girl on the Train, a book which seemingly paved the way for a slew of unreliable narrators in popular fiction.

A Slow Fire Burning is her third novel and again she offers us strong, flawed and sometimes-unlikeable female characters. In fact there are several on offer here as – like Hawkins’s second book, Into the Water – this unfolds from multiple points of view all offering very different voices, personalities and views on life.

four-stars

Book review: Unholy Murder by Lynda LaPlante

Friday, August 27, 2021 Permalink

Unholy Murder is the seventh in the (young) Jane Tennison series. It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I reflected on how Jane’s changed over the course of the books (ie. her career to date). I’m actually quite sure how LaPlante is pacing these but we’re in the 1980s now and obviously getting closer to the original Prime Suspect books and series time-wise.

This series is also a bit of a study in culture and society as – unlike the earliest books – Jane seems to be readily accepted as a police officer now. Definitely respected by her contemporaries and not viewed as an anomaly by the public.

three-half-stars

Book review: Just Murdered by Katherine Kovacic

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 Permalink

I’ve written a number of times here about my love for Miss Phryne Fisher – 1920s icon, lady detective and adventuress. I wasn’t aware of the delightful character who’s (now) featured in over twenty Kerry Greenwood books before discovering her almost a decade ago via the ABCTV show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

It meant I was excited by the 2019 small screen arrival of Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, featuring Phryne’s niece Peregrine.

four-stars

Book review: Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Friday, June 25, 2021 Permalink

In her latest novel, Dream Girl, Laura Lippman is able to draw on her knowledge and experience of writing and the publishing industry to offer up a fairly blunt insight into the life of an author.

Through her lead character Gerry, she also offers some commentary on ‘cancel culture’. I couldn’t quite decide if she was supportive of society’s current penchant for calling out bad or inappropriate behaviour and prejudices, or slightly cynical about how easily some to use (the notion of) ‘cancel culture’ to dismiss stuff that annoys us or with which we disagree. Either way, Gerry finds himself constantly wondering if he’s able to say something or think something lest he be berated for its inappropriateness. It’s interesting because, as we gain more insight into his character and his background there’s a sense that the ‘he doth protest too much’ thing is actually rather warranted.

three-half-stars

Book review: Snowflake by Louise Nealon

Thursday, June 17, 2021 Permalink

I’d only just hopped in the bath and started to read Snowflake by Louise Nealon when I shared a picture (of the book, not me…) and commented that I didn’t think I was going to be able to put it down until I finished.

Such is the addictive allure of 18 year old Debbie and the world in which she inhabits. Nealon opens by giving us some history into Debbie and her family – her uncle Billy and, to a lesser extent, her mother Maeve. in fact it takes Debbie a while to reflect on childhood events involving her mother and when she does it’s centred around her dreams and her mother’s belief that both she and Debbie have the ability to see other’s dreams.

four-half-stars