Review: The Next Girl – Pip Drysdale

The Next Girl

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781761106644

Description;

Promising Young Woman meets High Fidelity in the dark and twisty new thriller from the bestselling author of The Sunday Girl, The Strangers We Know and The Paris Affair.

A bad day at work. A drunken night. A rogue Instagram follow. That’s all it takes to ruin a life …

The question is, whose life will be ruined? When Billie wakes up in a strange guy’s bed, her first thought is: what happened last night? She can’t even remember meeting him. And how the hell did she get to Coney Island?

Then reality bites and the memories flood in – the reason she was in that bar, drinking to start with: today she’s going to get fired. Because yesterday her law firm lost a big case: Samuel Grange v Jane Delaney. And it looked like it was her fault.

It wasn’t. Yet now Samuel Grange is free to drive off into the sunset in his stupid Porsche and do it all again to another woman. And all Billie can think is: What about the next girl? And the one after that? But there is nothing she can do to stop him.

Unless … She could expose the truth about him on her own. Then everyone would see what he was really like. And he wouldn’t be able to do it again.

The problem is, the only way to protect the next girl is to become the next girl. And, well, that could be a little risky … even deadly.

Praise for The Next Girl

‘Original. Breathtaking. Dangerous. The Next Girl is compulsory reading from an author at the top of her game.’ Loraine Peck, author of The Second Son

‘It hooked me in and left me breathless. Set aside your weekend because you won’t be able to put it down.’ Petronella McGovern, author of The Liars

‘Fierce, smart and packed with tension, The Next Girl grabbed me from the first page.’ Ashley Kalagian Blunt, author of Dark Mode

‘Pip Drysdale is one of the brightest new stars in the realm of first-person psychological suspense … Romantic suspense for the Netflix generation.’ Canberra Times

‘A twisty, suspenseful thriller with a heroine who makes doing bad things seem right.’ Tim Ayliffe, author of The Enemy Within

368 pages, Paperback

Published November 30, 2022

Dear Pip

Yesterday I had a massage – I had kinks and knots and aches and pains. The remedial massage was an hour of bliss (mostly ) Last night I continued to read your book, The Next Girl. I was reading curled up on the lounge, I could feel the tension in my neck budling…being “posture aware” I moved my reading to the kitchen table, I sat straight for all of 2 minutes and then the tension, almost like panic, fear, anticipation…came back. I was “in that room” with your protagonist. I tore through the final chapters, finished the book and exhaled. My muscles relaxed.

You owe me, one remedial massage 🙂

Review: Wake – Shelley Burr

Wake

Shelley Burr

Hachette Australia

ISBN:9780733647826

Description:

EVERYBODY THINKS THEY KNOW MINA McCREERY.
EVERYONE HAS A THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED TO HER SISTER.
NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH…

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

Superbly written, taut and compassionate, Wake looks at what can happen when people’s private tragedies become public property, and the ripples of trauma that follow violent crimes. Wake won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019

My View:

Without doubt THE BEST crime fiction read of the year, in fact I could say the best I’ve read in may years!!! I don’t think I need to say anymore, do your self a favour, reignite your thirst for books, read this.

5 STARS *****

Review: Double Lives – Kate Mc Caffrey

Double Lives

Kate McCaffrey

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760687564

RRP $29.99

Description:

This established WA-based writer examines notions of truth, gender, identity and acceptance in a compelling novel about a cold-case podcast.

Truth is like a lens we apply to everything we see, it is malleable and transformative, we can bend it, mould it, shape it, vanish it. We do this to present the versions of ourselves we want the world to see, and to hide the versions we can’t bear to reveal.

Newly returned to Western Australia, journalist Amy Rhinehart pitches a crime podcast to increase her radio station’s ratings. Her idea: to use the listeners of the show as its co-creators, with live-time calls and suggestion boards. The case: Jonah Scott, charged and imprisoned for life for the murder of his girlfriend, transgender woman Casey Williams. Jonah went to great lengths to hide the body – but when arrested, confessed immediately and pleaded guilty, negating the need for a trial. Amy believes there is something darker at the heart of this case and sets about finding the truth, investigating a world of drugs, sex, gender identity and religious cults.

Threaded through the main narrative, the podcast transcripts represent a story-within-a-story, exploring the characters of Jonah and Casey and the relationship between them, interwoven with Amy’s investigation into the cult run by Jonah’s family and its potential involvement in Casey’s murder.

My View:

A captivating read. I really enjoyed this style of writing – the mix of “script/podcast” style of narration, of interviews, the investigative aspects, and the thought provoking, cotemporary issues surrounding gender and identity that are sensitively woven into the mystery.

This read also has a great sense of place. I can easily picture the the fruit picking regions, the cult, the farms, the rural isolated towns, the city radio stations and the competitive nature of the presenters time slots, it all has an authentic feel.

McCaffrey seamlessly weaves in many thought provoking movements in what is presented as an investigation into a murder, it is a search for the why not the who (or is it?), as we already have a self confessed, perpetrator in prison for the crime (to me this has a feel of a docu/mockumentary), I like this style. The protagonist is determined to discover the “truth”, and again we are drawn into a discussion about truth and how it presented, how we want to read it… how our opinions can be swayed.

I applaud the author, she does not shy away from presenting an ending that will be uncomfortable and maybe unexpected (it was for me) , an ending that doesnt neatly and mundanely tie the narration up into what we presume is going to be the outcome (no spoilers here) … it is too easy to give the reader an expected conclusion.

A great topical and contemporary read with more than a few surprises.

Review: The Butcher and The Wren – Alaina Urquhart

The Butcher and The Wren

Alaina Urquhart

Michael Joseph

Penguin Random House

ISBN:9780241610602

Description:

From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the duelling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads…

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve.

Until now.

Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day…

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

My View:

I took a little time to warm up to the style of the writing here but then I was hooked. It has been a long time since a book has demanded I stay up and read to the very end. This read is at times uncomfortable – the violence and torture ( though its not dwelled upon it is a feature of the killers modus operandi), its a read with one hand over you eyes type of book 🙂

This is a fast paced read, modern, engaging and quick read. I haven’t heard the podcast that the author co hosts but if you are a fan of any crime podcasts you will be a fan of the writing here.

Review – Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney

Daisy Darker

Alice Feeney

Macmillan

ISBN:9781529089813

Description:

The New York Times bestselling Queen of Twists returns…with a family reunion that leads to murder.

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

My View:

Love the cover art. Love the writing; evocative, some really beautiful prose, full of surprising revelations.

This is a very cleverly plotted and written book; there are plenty of surprises, some reflections on the meaning of “family” and lots of exploration of family dynamics in general.

Daisy Darker pays homage to 2 well known narratives ( no spoilers see if you can pick them) this was a clever device, but for me it took a little of the gloss of the reveal away. If you like a “locked in” mystery, like a twisty plot, then this book is for you.

If you have read this what did you think?

I think its time I read her previous acclaimed book, Rock Paper Scissors.

#FridayFreebie: Criminals – James O’Loghlin

Criminals

James O’Loghlin

Bonnier Echo

ISBN: 9781760687465

Description:

What makes a criminal? One May 2019 morning, two masked gunmen rob Blacktown Leagues Club. What happens next will change the lives of three people. Twenty-three-year-old Dean Acton is a heroin addict trying to get off the break and enter treadmill by pulling one big job. Sarah Hamilton, also twenty-three, is a police officer on stress leave, working behind the bar, trying to forget the mistake she made that caused the death of her fiancée. Mary Wallace, a forty-five-year-old ex-schoolteacher who lives and drinks alone, feels that her life is already over, and has made plans to formalise that arrangement.

When Sarah realises there is something familiar about one of the gunmen, she is drawn back to the thrill of investigating, and can identify Dean. Dean is overjoyed at his $12,000 haul, but before he can decide whether to spend it on a new start in Queensland or a few months’ worth of heroin, he’s arrested, and in Long Bay jail everyone wants to find out where he’s stashed the cash.

Mary is inspired by the robbery. Pottery and French classes haven’t jolted her out of her depression, but perhaps embarking on a life of crime will. She starts small, and then ups the ante. When she, too, is arrested and her lawyer tries to discover why a respectable middle-class woman would steal constipation medication, will she be able to reveal what caused her to give up on teaching and everything else?
Dean learns that the only person who identified him at the robbery was Sarah and is tempted by a plan that will ensure she won’t ever be able to give evidence against him. But is he prepared to go that far? And if he does, will he ever come back?

As Dean’s trial approaches, Mary, Dean and Sarah must work out why they have become who they are, and whether they have the courage to change

The Book:

I am currently reading this one, what I love about this one is that it continues to surprise me. It is a book about a crime but it is more than that – it is about people; the façades we present to the world, the complicated route we take to end up in a particular place in life, a destination we can move on from – or not, the choices we make.

Each time I think I know where this book is going, it changes, little revelations here and there make for an engaging read.

If you want an opportunity to read this book I have one copy to give away thanks to the lovely people at Dmcprmedia and Echo Bonnier. It’s easy – in the comments let me know what other work James O’Loghlin is known for? Look closely I am sure many of you will recognise him 🙂 Giveaway open to Australian residents only and winner drawn on the 22nd of July 2022

James O’Loghlin

Review: Stone Town – Margaret Hickey

Stone Town

Margaret Hickey

Bantam

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143777274

Description:

Stone Town is captivating new rural crime drama from the author of the bestselling Cutters End.

With its gold rush history long in the past, Stone Town has definitely seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons . . .

When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a local property developer, whose controversial plans to buy up Stone Town land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However his gruesome murder is overshadowed by the mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsted.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook’ Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

But following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game . . .

My View:

William McInnes, opps sorry Mark Ariti is back in another rural crime drama – and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Once again I could see this narrative playing out as if watching the show on TV; the landscape is familiar, the characters well developed, though only the protagonist has a face I recognise, Australian actor William McInnes, the rest are yet to be cast 🙂

I am now waiting for the next episode of this series…there must be another mustn’t there??

A 5 star read.

Review – Cutters End – Margaret Hickey

Cutters End

Margaret Hickey

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9781761044151

Description:

A scintillating crime thriller, set in the South Australian outback town of Cutters End. A mysterious death on New Year’s Eve 1989 leads to a shocking murder investigation 32 years later…

A desert highway. A remote town. A murder that won’t stay hidden.

New Year’s Eve, 1989. Eighteen-year-old Ingrid Mathers is hitchhiking her way to Alice Springs. Bored, hungover and separated from her friend Joanne, she accepts a lift to the remote town of Cutters End.

July 2021. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is seconded to a recently reopened case, one in which he has a personal connection. Three decades ago, a burnt and broken body was discovered in scrub off the Stuart Highway, 300km south of Cutters End. Though ultimately ruled an accidental death, many people – including a high-profile celebrity – are convinced it was murder.

When Mark’s interviews with the witnesses in the old case files go nowhere, he has no choice but to make the long journey up the highway to Cutters End.

And with the help of local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur, he soon learns that this death isn’t the only unsolved case that hangs over the town…

My View:

As I am reading I see William McInnes as Mark … I see the film play out… the red dust, the gravel roads, isolation… small country towns and… violence. I am glad we are travelling (in caravan ) with our dog 🙂

This narrative poses a lot of questions regarding violence and misogynist attitudes…and asks how much have times changed? The biggest question, “once seen/heard” what do you do with that information?(No spoilers)

A great work of rural crime fiction, I cant wait to read the next in this series “Stone Town”.

Guest Review: The Woman in the Library – Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library

Sulari Gentill

Ultimo Press

ISBN: 9881761151033

Description:
In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Brenda’s View:
This is spectacular! Literary genius!
The best-selling author within our book, Hannah Tigone, is writing her book from her home in Australia, set in Boston in the US. The only time Hannah is mentioned is at the end of each chapter when she is emailed by her beta reader, Leo, who lives in the US. The beginning of the book is set in the Boston Public Library, where four strangers are brought together by a piercing scream. While security searched for the origin of the scream, but initially found nothing, the four strangers became acquaintances and then friends.

Freddie (Winifred) is the narrator of the story, and also a writer. She won an award in Australia which brought her to Boston to write her crime novel. Her meeting in the library with Cain (another author), Whit (a student trying to fail law) and Marigold (fixated on Whit) felt right. Freddie couldn’t believe how quickly the four became friends. When the body of a young woman was found in the library, it was just the start of their nightmare.

With the police focusing on the four friends, Freddie and Cain did their best to follow leads to find the killer. When another murder occurred, one of the four was in the frame. Strange text messages were sent to Freddie, odd happenings which were freaking her out – was the killer amongst them? Could Freddie identify the deranged murderer before anyone else died?

The Woman in the Library by Aussie author Sulari Gentill is so incredibly clever – I’ve never read anything like it! I loved the way it was done, loved the intricate juggling the characters perfected, and found the twists delicious! Ms Gentill has always had my admiration for her historical mystery series – Rowland Sinclair – and The Woman in the Library has cemented her place at the top of my favourite authors. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Also Ultimo Press AU for my ARC which I devoured!! 

Review: One of Us-Kylie Kaden

One of Us

Kylie Kaden

Panterra Press Aus

ISBN:9780648677093

Description:

Behind the tall hedges of the affluent, gated community of Apple Tree Creek, not all is as it seems …

Out of the blue, Gertie’s husband decides they need a break and he’s leaving her with their three children. Two streets east and three gardens down, successful businesswoman Rachael discovers her husband has cheated on her – again – even though she’s pregnant with his third child. Thrown together by a chance encounter, the two women bond over the shared disaster that is their marriages.

But did one husband push his wife too far?

When the ambulance sirens cut through the serenity of Apple Tree Creek, the small community is shocked at the violence that’s played out in their midst. CCTV reveals no outsiders visited the estate that night, confirming that the assailant must have been one of their own. Is the culprit still living among them? And why didn’t any of the cameras, designed to keep them all safe, catch anything?

As the web of neighbourly relationships unravels and the workings of their inner lives are exposed, questions will be asked, but not everyone wants to learn the answers.

You can only push people so far.

My View:

A dramatic opening scene – a body…police, traumatised family close by. Who did it? And so the story begins.

We look back to reveal the culprit. We learn about the daily lives and grind of the families living in a gated, secure community. So many secrets. You really cannot judge people by their appearances, who knows what is going on behind the public facade. And can I say upfront – the death- couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person 🙂 I really disliked all the male characters in this book.

For me this had a touch of the Stepford Wives, I dont really know why I felt this commonality, perhaps the neat and tidy outer appearances, the messy reality behind the scenes? Its a “feeling” that has lingered with me long since I read this book.

If you are looking for a character driven mystery with a touch of “fly on the wall” knowledge of the lives behind the gates, then this one if for you. And I bet you wont guess “who dunnit” 🙂 I didn’t.