Review: Big Sky – Kate Atkinson

Big Sky: A Jackson Brodie Novel

Kate Atkinson

Doubleday

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780857526113

 

Description:

Jackson Brodie makes a highly anticipated return!

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an ageing Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back across the path of someone from his past. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

 

My View:

Superbly plotted, complex in themes and design, mysterious and heart breaking, it was amazing to discover the intersection of characters’ lives, landscapes and crimes (committed against and by whom.)  Past and present worlds collide in a mystery where valour and doing the right thing are triumphant. Justice is well served, the law is not.

 

I love a character lead narrative in the crime fiction/literary crime read. The details wash the canvas in grey not emphatic black and white. Life is complex, messy, sometimes our perspective of the outside does not match the inside view, and sometimes there is hope and compassion where you least expect to find it. This contemporary read is perfect!

 

Enough said – go out and order/purchase this one now. You will not regret it.

 

 

Review: The Accusation – Wendy James

The Accusation

Wendy James

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460752388

 

Description:

A bizarre abduction. A body of damning evidence. A world of betrayal.

 

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, clad only in ill-fitting pyjamas. Her story of kidnap and escape quickly enthrals the nation: a middle-aged woman with a crazy old mother has held Ellie in a basement, chained her to a bed and given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup. But who was this woman and what did she want with Ellie? And what other secrets might she hide?

When the accusation is levelled at local teacher Suzannah Wells, no one seems more bewildered than Suzannah herself … to start with. The preposterous charge becomes manifestly more real as she loses her job and her friends. And the evidence is strong: a dementia-affected mother, a house with a basement, a sippy cup that belonged to her long-dead daughter. And Ellie Canning’s DNA everywhere. As stories about Susannah’s past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt she’s innocent.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

 

A powerful exploration of the fragility of trust, and the power of suggestion, from the author of The Golden Child and The Mistake.

 

Praise for the Golden Child:

‘The novel is cleverly constructed, the characters are extremely well-drawn, the use of social media as a plot device is very sophisticated, and the resolution is a genuine surprise’ Judges’ report, Ned Kelly Crime Awards, 2017.

 

 

My View:

Credible!  Readable!  Powerful!

What a fantastic read!!!

 

This is a fabulous read that kept me up till the early hours trying to work out the knots and twists in this plot. Like a skillful magician, Wendy James directs our attention to view the scenarios in a particular way, provides glimpses, hints, clues then redirects our attention to other possibilities.

I do love an unreliable narrator.  A fast paced read with some surprising reveals, I predict an award or two for this novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Cottage at Rosella Cove – Sandie Docker

The Cottage at Rosella Cove

Sandie Docker

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789215

 

Description:

Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?

 

LOST

Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the

first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.

 

FOUND

Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.

 

FORGOTTEN

Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

 

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.

 

 

My View:

Isn’t it great when you discover a new author to add to your “authors you must read” list?

 

Sandie Docker writes with a subtleness that is poignant and encompasses many contemporary social issues without shouting her message loudly in your face.  There are many threads to this narrative – domestic violence – DV does not always include physical violence; it can be a deliberate isolation from friends and family, a slow erosion of self and self-confidence, financial dependence/control…the psychological assault is oh so manipulative and dire…Docker weaves this thread into the narrative with a deceptive charm – blink and you will miss the signs – just as the victim does. But this is more than a narrative of DV, it is a charming story of friendships, new and old, about redemption, rebuilding  –  I liked the analogy for rebuilding life/rebuilding cottage – by allowing friendship in and opening  up your heart to possibilities and hope.

 

I loved the device – the reading of old letters – to fill in gaps, to tell a personal history and a world history, to add depth to characters, and to provide optimism and resolution.

 

This is a deceptively simple narrative that encompasses so much life. A great read.

 

 

 

Review: Hush Hush – James Patterson and Candice Fox

Hush Hush

Detective Harriet Blue #4

James Patterson and Candice Fox

 ISBN: 9780143793021

 

Description:

The blistering new novel in James Patterson’s #1 bestselling series set in Australia.

Harriet Blue used to be a detective. Now she’s inmate 3329.

Prison is a dangerous place for a former cop – as Harriet is learning on a daily basis.

So, following a fight for her life and a prison-wide lockdown, the last person she wants to see is Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Woods. The man who put her inside.

But Woods is not there to gloat. His daughter Tonya and her two-year-old child have gone missing.

He’s ready to offer Harriet a deal: find his family to buy her freedom …

 

My View:

Perhaps because we now are now very familiar with the characters and situations /ongoing narrative in this series, perhaps because of the somewhat optimistic resolution of this book, perhaps because we get a glimpse of the gentler more compassionate side of most of the protagonists here, their secrets/past revealed, I declare this the best read in the series.

 

Hang your suspension of belief on the hat stand as you enter and don’t forget to pick it up as you leave, this read is fast paced, full of personal revelations and gives us a little hope that Harriet Blue’s life might be changing for the better. Optimism is the theme in this read and we readers cling to this tangible thread fiercely.  Don’t get me wrong – this read still has the hallmark themes of corruption, violence, revenge and fear characteristic of the series but the subtle personal revelations raise this book above the others in the series.

 

Is this the last in the series? It did feel like that to me but who knows?

 

 

 

Review: Their Little Secret – Mark Billingham

Their Little Secret

Tom Thorne #16

Mark Billingham

Little Brown

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780751566987

 

Description:

When DI Tom Thorne is called to conduct a routine assessment at the site of a suicide, he expects to be in and out in no time. But when he arrives at the metro station, where a woman named Philippa Goodwin threw herself in front of an underground train, Thorne inexplicably senses something awry and feels compelled to dig deeper. He soon discovers that she was the victim of a callous con-man whose deception plunged Philippa to her end. Enraged that one man’s trickery caused an innocent death, Thorne enlists DI Nicola Tanner to help him track down the swindler and bring him to justice. But the detective duo gets more than they bargained for when a young man’s lifeless, bludgeoned body turns up on the shore of a nearby seaside town: it appears that very con artist they’re searching for is connected to the murder. Brilliantly plotted with a shocking psychological bent, Their Little Secret is another masterful thriller from one of Britain’s most beloved crime writers. With twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the final page, this is Mark Billingham’s most chilling novel yet.

 

My View:

Brilliant!

 

If you love a good police procedural with empathetic protagonists, twists and more twists and crime that will shock with its audacity, then this book is for you!  So many secrets, so many lies…

 

I think what I loved most about this book (and there is a lot to love) is the reveal that I did not see coming, the secrets that are being kept on both sides of the law, the reference to Elvis Costello’s lyrics for “I Want You”:

I want you,

The truth can’t hurt you, it’s just like the dark,

It scares you witless,

But in time you see thing clear and stark.

I want you,

Go on and hurt me, then we’ll let it drop,

I want you,

I’m afraid I won’t know where to stop….

Perfect pairing for this read!

 

And then there is Jamie… (You will have to read to learn about Jamie) this character adds a real psychological punch to the narrative and almost has you feeling sorry for his mother, almost.

 

And the perpetrators – just like the crimes, not what you expect, surprise and after surprise.

 

And if you scan the code on the inside cover flap you can hear Mark Billingham reading chapter one of “Their Little secret” audio book.

 

So much to love!

 

 

Review: Love Song – Sasha Wasley

Love Song

Daughters of the Outback #3

Sasha Wasley

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784562

 

Description:

There was something about Charlie. Something about the way he questioned and teased her, brought her outside of herself … the way he’d made her crash headlong into love just by singing to her.

 

At age seventeen, Beth Paterson was determined to study medicine at university, despite the heartache of losing her mother. Tutoring Charlie Campbell worked well with her plan – but falling in love with him sure didn’t, and neither did getting her heart broken when he abruptly left town.

 

Now Charlie is a big star on the alternative rock scene, while Beth is a respected doctor in her hometown. When Charlie comes back to fight for the tiny community where he was raised, neither one of them can ignore the resurgence of wild attraction they once shared.

 

Beth swore no man would ever hurt her again – least of all this man. But some love songs can never be forgotten, especially when they were written for you …

 

From the author of Dear Banjo comes a book to make your heart sing and your spirits soar.

 

 

My View:

A poignant work of rural fiction, I can feel the author’s passion for her craft, her characters and this series on the pages as I read.

 

This is a fast paced read with complex social issues, engaging characters, passion, romance and optimism.

 

It was fitting that I read this on the remote, dusty land of Hutt River Province, Western Australia, (we are on holidays).

 

A great read that nicely connects the other books and characters of the series and ends with an abundance of optimism and good will.