Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson is a sequel to the equally lengthily-named Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone (EIMFHKS) – a book I absolutely loved. In fact I’ve really enjoyed all of Stevenson’s books but the narration in EIMFHKS was outstanding. Written conversationally and very VERY cleverly in first person – sometimes second – the narrative is delivered via the droll, witty, exceedingly forthright writer-turned accidental detective (turned novelist) Ernest Cunningham.
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.
The title of Lisa Jewell’s latest book, None of This is True could be seen as offering readers a huge spoiler. And it does and it doesn’t. It – along with the blurb however – warns us that trusting Josie Fair comes with some risks. But Jewell manages to unravel Josie’s story in a way that keeps readers guessing. The book itself unfolds in the present (at the time of [ahem] certain events), and later… when all of the stories have been told and secrets apparently revealed.
Broken Bay is the third book in this very enjoyable series by Margaret Hickey featuring DS Mark Ariti. Each has been named after a place – Cutters End, Stone Town and now Broken Bay where Mark’s taken a short break to do some fishing. There’s a tragic death while he’s there, but it unearths (kinda literally) another body and Mark’s convinced to hang around until more is known about the cause of death.
‘On an icy 5-degree September morning in Orange, New South Wales, four people unknowingly set off a chain of events that would lead to three deaths and a major homicide investigation….’ is the alluring opening paragraph of The Fall Between by Darcy Tindale and it sets the tone for this debut crime fiction novel, which will hopefully become the first in a new series. It goes on to reference the domino effect and what comes next is a reminder that life can be treacherous and being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have dire repercussions.
I Will Find You by Harlan Coben starts by introducing readers to David, a man in prison for murdering his son Matthew. He tells us he didn’t do it but didn’t fight the conviction because he blames himself anyway. David’s a likeable lead and though the book unfolds in first person, it occasionally dips into a second person narrative, as if he’s talking to us… so we know HE also knows most people in prison claim to be innocent.
I assumed Lenny Marks Gets Away With Murder by Kerryn Mayne was going to be cosy crime fiction. Given the title. But it isn’t. It’s actually an at-times funny but also bittersweet story about loss, grief and abandonment as well as friendship, joy and acceptance. The book’s namesake, Lenny (Helena), is an absolute delight in the same way Eleanor Oliphant, Grace Atherton and Susan Green all were.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Aussie writer Candice Fox. Her series (Eden Archer; Crimson Lake; and Harriet Blue) gave us some quirky, often-annoying, but endearing characters I’ll long remember. I enjoyed her 2022 release The Chase but struggled a bit as we were given a number of leads and I didn’t connect as much as usual and my attention (and affection) was diluted. I was pretty much alone in my thinking though as the book won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction.
Fox’s latest, Fire With Fire, delivers on multiple fronts and she’s introduced some fabulous characters I very much hope to meet again. Fox is a great storyteller but I believe the magic in her work comes through the characters she creates and manages to humanise within such a short amount of time… building on that with each outing and offering them a story arc that doesn’t necessarily involve growth and evolution but rather everything from redemption to revenge.
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.