• 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: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

    Monday, September 20, 2021 Permalink

    Beth O’Leary’s 2019 novel, The Flatshare, was one of my favourite books that year. I also enjoyed 2020’s The Switch.

    The Road Trip didn’t seem to arrive with the fanfare of its predecessors but is still an enjoyable read. It unfolds in in two timelines. The present (which involves the very long and fraught road trip) and a period of a year or two in the recent past.

    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 Five Year Plan by Jodi Gibson

    Tuesday, September 14, 2021 Permalink

    The Five Year Plan is the second book I’ve read by Jodi Gibson, who I know virtually through our shared love of reading and writing. Although this and her previous novel The Memories We Hide, ┬áveer a little more towards romance than my usual reading fodder I enjoyed both. They’re quintessential summer reads. They’re comforting…. offering some reassurance that all will be well in/with the world.

    In some ways you can predict how things will ultimately end up but it’s the getting-there that I very much enjoyed here, particularly as Gibson predominantly sets this in Bari, in Italy’s Puglia region. I’ve never been but (very) coincidentally was in Italy this time three years ago.

    three-half-stars
  • Book review: Freckles by Cecilia Ahern

    Monday, September 6, 2021 Permalink

    I hated my freckles as a kid. I used to joke about joining them together, like a dot-to-dot drawing. Unfortunately I didn’t have a cute smattering across my nose, rather they were clumped together in splotches. Of course in retrospect I realise I was far more conscious of them than anyone else around me.

    The lead character of Cecilia Ahern’s latest novel is given the nickname Freckles for obvious reasons. Allegra doesn’t mind though. She loves her freckles and as a teenager drew links from one to another, mapping constellations.

    four-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