Book review: One for Sorrow by Joanne Tracey

Saturday, April 13, 2024 Permalink

I mentioned on Facebook when One for Sorrow by Joanne Tracey was released that it was kinda bittersweet as Jo and I were going to co-write this series. Though at the time it was going to be themed and titled around astrology with the murder or murderer each time reflecting a zodiac sign*. It didn’t pan out for a myriad of reasons, but mainly because Jo’s an excellent and prolific writer, whereas I’m lucky to keep up with reviews on this website. 

The fact that this book is dedicated to me (I know!!!) AND I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements will probably mean you’ll assume this review will be very biased. You’d be wrong but given reviewing (how we respond to / perceive anything) is subjective it doesn’t matter… but I bloody loved this book. It’s easily my favourite of Jo’s books. Some of that MAY be because I felt a kindredness with Clementine Carter (I was there for her birth, after all) but also because I liked the cast of characters surrounding her and the ‘mystery’ at the heart of this book was just the perfect mix of clue-following-and-secret-discovering. 

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four-half-stars

Book review: Philly Barker Is On The Case by Joanne Tracey

Saturday, November 11, 2023 Permalink

Philly Barker Is On The Case by Joanne Tracey is the second in the series featuring antiques dealer (and ex-cop) Philly. We were introduced to her in Philly Barker Investigates, along with her ex-husband Stewart, her quirky friends and colleagues selling their wares at Chipwell Barn Antiques and almost-retired cop DI Robbie Dawkins with whom Philly’s established a friendship, but nothing more… at this stage anyway.

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four-stars

Book review: For Reasons of their Own by Chris Stuart

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 Permalink

I met New Zealand author Chris Stuart at the Theakston Crime Writing Festival. We were introduced by crime fiction guru (and big promotor of antipodean crime fiction) Craig Sisterson (pic of we three below).

Chris, he told me, had won New Zealand’s Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel for her debut, For Reasons of their Own in 2021. We hung out while at the festival and she handed me a copy of her second book, The Glasgow Smile. Very weirdly we had similar backgrounds, as we’d both worked in international aid and development overseas and – at different times – worked with the same Australian project management company in the Pacific. Small world. We also both seemed to be wearing bright clothing, so we stood out in the dull England drizzle.

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four-stars

Book review: The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 Permalink

I’d heard a lot of good things about The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie and now that I’ve read it, am happy it’s tagged on Goodreads as Detective Kate Miles #1 meaning there are more to come. Of course my finely honed deductive skills also noted the inclusion of a preview of book number two at the end of The Torrent, so….

McKenzie’s introduced us to an engaging lead in Kate and I liked the support cast we’d expect to see again – her husband, her work partner, her boss and her father. There’s a bit of backstory and baggage in relation to her father’s past but it doesn’t overwhelm the story unfolding here in any way which also includes a nice balance of the crime/s-at-hand and the usual personal stuff impacting on work lives – particularly that of cops’.

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four-stars

Book review: When We Fall by Aoife Clifford

Monday, April 18, 2022 Permalink

I loved Aoife Clifford’s first two books, All These Perfect Strangers and Second Sight so am not entirely sure why it took me so long to get to her latest release, When We Fall. I didn’t receive it for review but reading her books are no-brainers for me so I finally dragged myself to the store to get a copy… and I wasn’t disappointed.

Like Second Sight, it’s an atmospheric read and Clifford captures small seaside living well. And… the book opens with a bang, grabbing our attention with a macabre discovery. If I knew more about fishing I’d make some clever analogy about hooking we readers and reeling us in, given the fishing-village-like setting, but sadly I got nuthin…

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four-stars

Book review: The Little Cafe by the Lake by Joanne Tracey

Thursday, November 11, 2021 Permalink

The Little Cafe by the Lake by Joanne Tracey is the latest in a series of interlinked books – set across Australia, New Zealand and England.

These books and Tracey’s strength continues to be the relatability of her characters and the ease of her storytelling. I also appreciate that she paints players in shades of grey. Here there’s an unwelcome visitor and – though it’d be tempting to paint them in a cast them as completely villainous – she resists the urge, which has been the case in her previous books. And it’s surprising to find ourselves feeling sympathy or empathy for those responsible for others’ pain.

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four-stars

Book review: Escape to Curlew Cottage by Joanne Tracey

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Permalink

I’m always nervous when I read a book by someone I know. Let alone someone I see as a friend. Thankfully every time I read one of Joanne Tracey’s books I come away a little agog – that someone I know could create something like this. Something magical. Something that makes me care. And something that makes me cry.

Escape to Curlew Cottage is loosely linked to Wish You Were Here, which I read in 2016. I spent much of last year in my self-absorbed little bubble so missed two books Tracey released in 2020, but her warm style of writing, her development of very real and likeable characters and yarn-spinning ability was exactly as I remembered. Although I didn’t remember that until I started reading…. if you know what I mean.

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four-stars

Book review: Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic

Tuesday, December 29, 2020 Permalink

Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic is the second in her Alex Clayton Art series. I met Katherine at the BAD Sydney Crime Writers’ Festival in September 2019 and she’d been nominated for a prestigious Ned Kelly Award for the first in that series, The Portrait of Molly Dean.

I bought that book soon after and very much enjoyed it. The Shifting Landscape was released in early 2020 and I assumed it was the sequel, forgetting about the time lag involved in award nominations. It wasn’t until I started that book I realised it was the third in the series and I’d missed one in between. That’s now been rectified and I’m glad I’ve read Painting in the Shadows as it’s probably my favourite in the series to date.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 Permalink

I met Melbourne author Katherine Kovacic at the BAD Crime Writers’ Festival in early September. She was speaking at some sessions and also a finalist at the Ned Kelly Awards, for her debut novel, The Portrait of Molly Dean.

I’d heard of the book but – a bit like The Killing of Louisa by Janet Lee – thought it was non-fiction. And anyone who knows anything about me knows I do not read non-fiction. (Or historical fiction, or fantasy, romance, science fiction etc…) Except on those occasions when I ‘accidentally’ do.

I discovered of course The Portrait of Molly Dean is a fictionalised account of the actual murder of teacher/writer/muse Molly Dean in Melbourne in 1930. And my interest was piqued after I heard Katherine speak about it and how she became intrigued by the unsolved crime and rather cynical accounts of the victim.

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four-stars