Book review: Here Goes Nothing by Steve Tolz

Sunday, May 8, 2022 Permalink

I don’t read much satire. I like humorous books, but usually tend to gravitate to those written in first person by someone who’s self-deprecating or where the narrative voice is snarky or sarcastic. Here Goes Nothing by Steve Tolz was a different kind of read for me. If pressed I’d describe the humour as ‘arch’ rather than funny, though note others have found it hilarious.

In fact… I’m not sure I enjoyed it. (As such.) But I must concede it’s good nonetheless. (And yes, I do think it’s possible to know/think a book is good without liking it.) It’s exceedingly clever and confronting. In terms of social commentary it reminded me of some of my recent reads by Inga Simpson, Sarah Foster and Mitch Albom.

four-stars

Book review: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Saturday, April 2, 2022 Permalink

In naming his third novel Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, I think Benjamin Stevenson might have been attempting to rival Adrian McKinty’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly. When it comes to book title length I mean!

I’ve very much enjoyed Stevenson’s previous novels, Greenlight and Either Side of Midnight. They both featured a crime documentary-maker and were set in TV land. The lengthily named Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is a departure, but almost certainly my favourite (of his) to date and I can’t imagine it not being one of my favourite books of the year. And that’s all because of its telling.

four-half-stars

Book review: The Match by Harlan Coben

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 Permalink

The Match by Harlan Coben is billed as Wilde #2. I was a smidge confused by this as I could not recall a ‘Wilde’ #1. I then realised I’d missed The Boy From the Woods so came into this without any backstory. And it didn’t matter at all.

Initially I thought it was going to be reminiscent of Linwood Barclay’s Find You First, which featured someone picking off family members with related DNA (discovered through an ancestry match type place). Happily however the DNA matches aren’t really the tipping point here, rather what brings Wilde into the mix.

four-stars

Book review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Sunday, October 10, 2021 Permalink

I ADORED The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, released in 2020. I loved the comfort and familiarity of his characters and writing.

The Man Who Died Twice is the second in the series but it doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the first. Other than having met the characters before, there’s no backstory really required to pick things up with the residents of Coopers Chase community known as the Thursday Murder Club… a quartet that revisits cold cases from the comfort of the restaurant of their retirement village, usually with a few bottles of wine to lubricate their minds.

four-half-stars

Book review: 2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Friday, October 1, 2021 Permalink

2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson and Candice Fox is the sixth collaboration between the prolific US author and Aussie crime fiction writer Fox. I very much enjoyed their Harriet Blue detective series as well as The Inn, which I’d hoped may become part of a series as I liked some of the characters it introduced.

I always wonder how they manage the paired writing (though a friend and I are attempting to also do just that) but most of the books reflect both styles… Patterson’s short sharp chapters that keep you turning the pages, and Fox’s eccentric characters and smart blunt prose.

four-stars

Book review: The Raffles Affair by Vicki Virtue

Thursday, September 23, 2021 Permalink

Who knew that Raffles Hotel in Singapore offered a residency program? Well, it does and New Zealand-born Vicki Virtue spent her Writer-in-Residence stint there on The Raffles Affair, featuring ex-MI6 agent Victoria West, now working independently for governments-in-need. Here however, Victoria is attending her close friend’s wedding in Singapore and called upon to do some old school sleuthing.

three-half-stars

Book review: Cutters End by Margaret Hickey

Monday, August 23, 2021 Permalink

Critically acclaimed and popular novels by the likes of Jane Harper and Chris Hammer have seen the rise of outback noir on bookstores’ shelves – both in Australia and overseas. It’s so weird to admit this now but until about 2014/15 I didn’t read Australian novels. Particularly not crime fiction or thrillers. I used to say it was because I read to escape and I didn’t want to read about baddies running around the streets of my state capital, Brisbane or back alleys in inner-city Sydney or Melbourne.

That changed at some point (I probably should check when and why) and now I read A LOT of Australian authors, whether their work is set overseas or here in Australia.

Cutters End is Margaret Hickey’s debut novel and is set in South Australia. Its sense of place and the gritty and parched feel of the outback is central to the tone of the novel and is something Hickey manages to sustain throughout.

four-stars

Book review: Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

Saturday, August 7, 2021 Permalink

I’m a fan of US author Charlie Donlea. I’ve very much enjoyed some of his recent books including The Suicide House and The Woman in Darkness. They all feature past crimes and long-kept secrets and have leveraged popular culture, including podcasts, true crime documentaries (or similar); uncovering missed clues and injustice. Donlea maintains the intrigue and twistiness in his latest, Twenty Years Later.

four-stars

Book review: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 Permalink

Many of the books I read unfold in dual timelines. Quite often decades apart. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell offers three separate narratives, though only a year apart. It means secrets and lies haven’t had time to fester, but it means wounds are still fresh and grief is still palpable. Of course it may also mean the story is not yet over.

four-half-stars