Review: Devestation Road – Joanna Baker

Devastation Road: (Beechworth Trilogy #1)
Joanna Baker
Soren Press
ISBN: 9781925786026

Description:
“An outstanding first novel” The Age

“Intelligent and sensitive.” Sisters in Crime

Winner of the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award

They should have seen who killed Debbie. The clues were in front of them the whole time. But sometimes the biggest mystery lies in the hearts of those closest to you.

Yackandandah, Victoria. A small and close-knit town where everyone knows their neighbour. Life here is dull, and safe. But eight years ago, out along Station Road, things started catching fire. Then a girl was killed, and someone got smart with the name.

Now it’s happening again. There’s a fire. Matt Tingle and Chess Febey find a friend, drowned in a pond.

Chess isn’t Matt’s friend. She’s one of those people you get stuck with – well meaning, total liability. But she knows how to answer questions, and there are plenty of those: Why are Tara and Wando afraid? What is the meaning of the amber necklace? How can a car be blue and white at the same time?

Before they can find the truth, Matt and Chess have to put themselves in danger, they have to look deep into themselves, and they have to reveal things about the past …

Other people’s secrets …
… and the truth about what happened all those years ago, on Devastation Road.

My View:
This New Year has brought forth a swag of excellent crime fiction/mystery, suspense reads and this read belongs in that swag!

What I Loved:
√  Interesting well-developed characters and settings.

  Great plotting and outcomes I didn’t expect.

   A build of tension and drama.

   Exciting introduction

Left me wanting more!!

Review: The Dilemma – B A Paris

The Dilemma
B A Paris
HQ
ISBN: 9780008287047

Description:
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My View:
I don’t know why but I was expecting this read to be edgy, perhaps more suspenseful, more of a crime fiction type read. Why? I don’t know, it certainly surprised me – in a good kind of way. What I got was a very nuanced discussion about families, relationships, what ifs and lots of moral dilemmas.

The characters are credible, relatable and interesting. The scenarios will make you think. This read is full of emotions and ultimately, is heartbreaking. I like how the author pushes on and allows the characters to work through some of the most painful experiences that any one could face.

A great read.

Review: Nine Elms – Robert Bryndza

Nine Elms
Robert Bryndza
Hachette Australia
Sphere
ISBN: 9780751572711

Description:
Robert Bryndza is ready to take the world by bestselling storm again with the introduction of Kate Marshall, a woman with a dark secret and a powerful sense of justice.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

My View:
The read started with a sensational attention-grabbing introduction – chapter five is pulse raising. However after that point I struggled to suspend my disbelief – I questioned the resources that this ex police officer turned investigator seemed conjure up, her ability to walk into a crime scene virtually unchallenged, to view an autopsy, to have confidential information handed over to her so readily…it just didn’t feel right. The criminals in this also seemed to be able to defy reason, their escapades – and that’s what there were, ramped up “adventures” of the killing kind were just a little over the top.

And I really did not want to discover the protagonist was just another ex-cop with a drinking problem – albeit one attending the Program (but I didn’t want to hear about that either).

However, I can see why many might like the thrills and blood letting in this, at times, tense read. I can also see the potential for this series to develop into a more substantial and believable read (or one where I can at least leave my disbelief at the door way before I enter the book). I really am at odds with myself trying to decide if I liked this read or not…almost but not quite…

Review: Long Bright River – Liz Moore

Long Bright River
Liz Moore
Penguin Random House Australia
Hutchinson London
ISBN:9781786331632

Description:
KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA:

THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX.
THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER.

Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.

When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.
_____________________________________
‘A remarkable, profoundly moving novel about the ties that bind and the irrevocable wounds of childhood. It’s also a riveting mystery, perfectly paced. I loved every page of it.’ DENNIS LEHANE

My View:
I predict awards, awards, awards for this book! This is an amazing read, this is what you discover when literary fiction collides with crime fiction – a full on, unstoppable narrative that is poignant, simultaneously heartbreaking yet uplifting, engaging; writing that is brilliantly constructed, complex not complicated, AND then there is the slow building tension of the unsolved crimes that escalates into a teeth clenching, heart racing conclusion. What a read!

I have been reviewing books/blogging my reviews since 2013 and I cannot think of any other read that comes close to this. This book is already in my “best of 2020 reads”, possibly my BEST read, ever.

I think you should read this book.

Guest Review: House of Wishes – Jenn J McLeod

The House of Wishes

Jenn J. McLeod

Wild Myrtle Press

ISBN: 9780648570806

 

Description:

A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons: about the choices we make, the connections that matter, the secrets we keep, and the power of wishes.

Dandelion House is ready to reveal its secrets.

Dandelion House, 1974

Two teenage girls—strangers—make a pact to never tell their secret.

Calingarry Crossing, 2014

For forty years, Beth and her mum have been everything to each other, but Beth is blind-sided when her mother dies, and her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a small-town cemetery.

On the outskirts of Calingarry Crossing, Beth comes across Dandelion House Retreat. With her stage career waning, and struggling to see a future without her mum, her marriage, and her child, Beth really hopes it’s a place where she can begin to heal.

After her fateful encounter with a local landowner, Tom, Beth is intrigued by his stories of the cursed, century-old river house that was once a swank summer residence for arty eccentrics and a maternity home for unmarried mothers. The more Beth learns about the place and the reclusive owner, Gypsy—whose mother, Maeve was a fortune-teller in a travelling carnival—the more she questions her mother’s wishes.

Tom has the answers, but will the truth help Beth?

Or should Dandelion House keep its last, long-held secret?

 

 

Brenda’s Review:

Beth had never heard of Calingarry Crossing but here she was, driving the long journey from Sydney to a tiny bush town in NSW, not far from the border of Queensland, to fulfil her beloved mother’s last wish. The spreading of her ashes in a particular section of Calingarry Crossing’s cemetery puzzled Beth, but she would do as her Mum wanted then leave once again…

After an inauspicious introduction to the town, Beth found herself in front of a sign which read Dandelion House Retreat – but it wasn’t the relaxing B&B she’d hoped for. The intriguing old place on the river would be central to Beth’s healing, although she didn’t know it yet. The meeting of a local farmer, Tom Dawson found Beth laughing more than she had in some time; but also Beth was fascinated in his stories about Dandelion House and its owner Gypsy.

Beth found herself confused; she didn’t understand her mother’s wishes – but would she find the answers she sought in this small out of the way place? There were secrets long buried; a story that began in 1974. Beth was grieving, lost and lonely – what was the truth to her past?

I thoroughly enjoyed House of Wishes by Aussie author Jenn J. McLeod with its loose links to two of her previous books, House for all Seasons and Simmering Season. Dandelion House has a life and heart of its own, and the author brings it to life as it wraps itself around those living there. Great characters fill House of Wishes; my particular favourite is Don. An emotional, heartfelt novel that kept me involved from start to finish, House of Wishes is one I highly recommend. I must mention the beautiful cover too. 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Mr Nobody – Catherine Steadman

Mr Nobody
Catherine Steadman
Simon & Schuster Australia
ISBN: 9781471192265
RRP $29.99

Description:
A psychiatrist treating a man with no memory discovers that her patient knows far more about her past than his own in a gripping psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water.

Who is Mr. Nobody?

When a man is found on a British beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him, to international medical experts who are baffled by him, to the national press who call him Mr. Nobody, everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?

Some memories are best forgotten.

Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient in a small town deep in the English countryside. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for, and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same town fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.

Places aren’t haunted . . . people are.

But now something—or someone—is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes that he knows the one thing about her that nobody is supposed to know.

 

My View:
A captivating read!

The tension was exquisite! I really enjoyed this read – the pace, the characters, the settings…and the twisty narrative.

Written in a style the gives voice to many of the main characters, you really get involved and try to unravel this twisty tale. There were times when I was urging the protagonist to re think her next move, to be more cautious, to look out…she didn’t listen 😊 She too had to realise – you can’t change people, people have to change themselves.

Guest Review: Cotter – Richard Begbie

Cotter

Richard Begbie

Longhand Press

ISBN: 9780975232958

 

Description:

Early in 1822 an illiterate nineteen year-old peasant in County Cork took part in a ‘Whiteboy’ action in the hope of fairer rent and more land for his struggling family. Instead, he was transported to NSW for life.

The story that follows will subvert popular notions of the convict experience. Cotter’s alliance with a fierce Aboriginal leader conspired with his second ‘crime’ to introduce him to a world understood by few Europeans.

The novel points to a haunting moment in Australia’s story, when white humility and aboriginal knowledge might have combined to produce a kinder stewardship across the ancient land. Few invaders experienced that fleeting possibility as intimately as Garrett Cotter.

This is a story of power and exploitation, of betrayal and uncertain redemption. It offers a vivid reimagining of real events in the far wilds of a high country ‘beyond the limits’.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Irishman Garrett Cotter was only nineteen years old in 1822 when he was caught with a group of “Whiteboy” rebels (so called because of the white shirts they all wore when protesting) and although initially sentenced to hanging, it was changed to transportation to New South Wales for the duration of his natural life. His journey with other male prisoners on the “Mangles” was long and arduous, but because of a kindly doctor who oversaw the men, they were reasonably healthy on their arrival in Sydney Cove.

After a period of a few years with a farmer near Parramatta, Cotter was then moved to new land on Weereewa (Lake George) where the land was lush with plenty of feed for the cattle. It was there that Cotter proved himself a hard worker and a dab hand with animals, especially horses. And it was also where he had his first encounter with the Aboriginal leader Onyong. Cotter and Onyong formed an alliance – at first uneasy – that would last many, many years, with Onyong helping Cotter find fertile land for cattle; their friendship meant he also met Onyong’s family and learned many Aboriginal ways.

Cotter received his ticket of leave, which was then revoked after an incident. His days with the darkness inside fortunately were less than the contented and happy days. His life wasn’t easy, but he was a well respected and liked man – by most. His use of land which Onyong referred to as “my country” was a privilege that Cotter appreciated; the men who didn’t understand the Aboriginal people were many and it saddened Cotter.

Cotter by Aussie author Richard Begbie is outstanding – up there with my favourite books for 2019. Although a fictional recounting, it’s heavily based on fact and with the Cotter Dam and Cotter River in Canberra, and many places mentioned in the book – Queanbeyan, Murrumbidgee River (the lifeblood of the country), Yass, Goulburn and many others – it felt familiar and was easy to visualize. The harshness of those early days in the colony was well told; the hatred by some whites of the Aboriginals; the exploitation and betrayal by many – Cotter was a likeable Irishman, smart and compassionate (he loved his dog Jimmy), and Cotter is a book well worth reading. And I wouldn’t have found it, let alone read it, if I hadn’t needed one for a challenge, which was set in Australia’s capital. A great win for me! Highly recommended. 5 stars.