East of Alice by Annie Seaton is the first book I’ve read by the Australian author, not realising she wrote thrillers and crime fiction (thinking she wrote rural romance). And I enjoyed this a lot. Particularly the quintessentially Australian setting. Though it’s a long time since I’ve been to Alice Springs, the organisation I work for has an office there and several projects outside of the town and – having been to the West Kimberley in West Australia this year a couple of times – I could imagine some of the landscape Seaton very vividly describes here.
The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson is the second in the series featuring Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley.
We pick up where we left off after The Jigsaw Man and Henley and her colleagues are still grappling with their lives being put at risk and a killer potentially on the run. We’re straight into the action however as the team picks up the case of a murdered pastor who had no shortage of enemies.
Linwood Barclay opens Look Both Ways with a foreward in which he tells us of his father’s love of cars – one he inherited. As a result, he describes his latest release as a bit of a departure from his usual style. It’s less of a ‘whodunnit’ and more of an action-packed thriller.
It didn’t entirely work for me but (then again) I’m more interested in something plot-driven rather than action-driven. I can certainly imagine this on the big or small screen however; where belief can be suspended and the fast-paced visuals drive the narrative. That said, the pacing (plot-wise) works well in the book as the action doesn’t let up from the opening to the very last page.
Out of Breath by Anna Snoekstra is the second book I’ve read by the Australian author. Interestingly in my review of Only Daughter (from 2016) I commented on the Canberra setting, with which I was familiar, having lived there for a couple of years.
And here, part of the novel is set in Broome in WA and nearby… and I’ve just come back from a few weeks in the West Kimberley, so laughed at the comments about the Broome ‘International’ Airport and could easily picture the stunning vista of palm trees, red dirt and pristine blue ocean.
Most of One Last Secret by Adele Parks unfolds in second person… our narrator Dora talking to us. The readers. Occasionally Parks slips out of the ‘explanatory’ style of prose she kicks off with, into more first person musings, but as a fan of second person narration I liked the intimacy it offers. It’s particularly important here as Dora is an escort and conscious ‘we’ may judge her for that. She doesn’t apologise or even explain her choice of career, rather asks that we accept that without judgement or pity. And it’s easy to do as Dora is likeable and goes about her business as just that… her business. Her job.
The Way from Here by Jane Cockram divided some of my friends. I have one who loved it and one who didn’t really enjoy it at all. Sadly I’m probably closer to the latter. It dragged a little for me. I suspect the fact that the early stages of the plot were a bit all over the place, were supposed to reflect the state of mind of 19 year old Susie… pursuing one guy, then another when that didn’t work.
But it felt a bit scattergun. I wondered if Cockram was a ‘panster’ (writing by the seat of her pants) and letting the book take her where it wanted – unsure what story she wanted to tell or what sort of book it was to be. Things become clearer and the pace picks up, but not really without becoming overly-complex at the same time.
The Game by Scott Kershaw is a thriller that will keep readers pondering not just the ‘who’ but the ‘why’ as well. I had visions of Adrian McKinty’s The Chain when I read the blurb… someone literally playing games with those who don’t understand how they’ve become involved but have no way of escaping other than playing along.
I’d not long watched the movie, The Father, featuring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman (about an ageing father and his daughter) when I read Lily Harford’s Last Request by Joanna Buckley. My own father had dementia and I know the toll it took on my mother as his carer. And as a middle-aged woman myself I’m conscious of my ageing mother’s needs and most of my friends are in similar positions – assisting elderly parents or making decisions about future care and support.
Her latest, Local Woman Missing, is an intriguing read – unfolding in two timeframes. All of the bad stuff – women disappearing – happens 11 years ago, and in the present chickens come home to roost and secrets are uncovered. Or something.