Review: Other Peoples Houses – Kelli Hawkins

Other People’s Houses

Kelli Hawkins

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460759226

 

Description:

A stunningly tense, page-turning debut for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

 

Kate Webb still grieves for her young son, ten years after his loss. She spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney’s wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

 

Then Kate visits the Harding house – the perfect house with, it seems, the perfect family. A photograph captures a kind-looking man, a beautiful woman she once knew from university days, and a boy – a boy that for one heartbreaking moment she believes is her own son.

 

When her curiosity turns to obsession, she uncovers the cracks that lie beneath a glossy facade of perfection, sordid truths she could never have imagined.

 

 

My View:

I don’t think I have come across such a unique narrator and unique plot; a mostly functioning alcoholic whose life is coloured with the raw grief of loss. Kate Webb is the most unreliable narrator I have come across yet her world is credible, the self-destructive behaviours understandable as her grief transcends her weak desire to function and exist in the world.

 

But this is not just a book about alcoholism and grief. Without giving away too much, this is a book about domestic violence in its worse form, its is about murders and psychopaths, about control, about relationships, about the glimmer of hope that just might sustain; it is a read where the nothing is as it seems.

 

And it is a read that will keep you up all night until you have discovered the truths. This is a compelling read and I will admit to shedding a silent tear as I finished this.

 

 

Review: Crackenback – Lee Christine

Crackenback

Lee Christine

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760878900

RRP $ 29.99

 

Description:

A thrilling tale of snow-bound crime and suspense, from the bestselling author of Charlotte Pass.

Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is on the hunt for notorious fugitive Gavin Hutton.

After months of dead-ends, the breakthrough Ryder has been hoping for leads him back to the New South Wales Snowy Mountains on the trail of the suspected killer.

Meanwhile, when an injured man bursts into the remote Thredbo lodge managed by Eva Bell, her first instinct is to protect her daughter, Poppy. The terrifying arrival of Jack Walker turns Eva’s world upside down as the consequences of Jack’s presence become clear.

With a killer on the loose, Jack Walker and Ryder are tangled in the same treacherous web – spun across the perilously beautiful Crackenback Range.

 

My View:

Superb reading!

I feel like my reading year has really started well, this is another 5-star read and a book I will be recommending to all my crime fiction reading friends. How did I miss book one, “Charlotte Pass”? Luckily it is not essential to have read book one before you read book 2, the author does a great job of recounting many salient points so that you will not be lost.  I will definitely keep a look out for book 3 and put this author on my “Must Read” list.

 

I did enjoy this one; empathetic characters, wonderful settings (I will visit the areas mentioned in the book – one day), and a gripping narrative that had me staying up way past a reasonable bed time just so I could finish this…such a great read this was.

 

I highly recommend this read to all lovers of great, character based, crime fiction. Lee Christine, I look forward to book 3.

#FridayFreebie: The Paris Affair – Pip Drysdale

The Paris Affair

Pip Drysdale 

Simon & Schuster

 

https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/The-Paris-Affair/Pip-Drysdale/9781760854324 

She thinks love can kill you. It turns out she might be right. The dark and sexy new thriller from the bestselling author of The Sunday Girl and The Strangers We Know.

Harper Brown is an expert at picking locks, breaking her way out of car boots, talking her way out of trouble and she could run a masterclass on escaping relationships – her record for losing a guy is three minutes flat. She’s addicted to true crime podcasts and is the genius behind a micro-column called ‘How to not get murdered’.

After having her heart broken helping her ex follow his dreams, Harper has moved to Paris to fulfill hers. She’s talked her way into a job as an arts journalist, a stepping stone to her dream role as an investigative journalist. All she has to do is whatever it takes to get there. But then one night she meets the artist Noah X, and everything she thinks she knows is turned upside down.

Soon Harper finds herself entangled in a web of lies, hot on the trail of a murderer and the scoop of a lifetime. This is the story that could make her career – if the killer doesn’t catch her first.

*** I have one copy of the fabulous The Paris Affair  to give away – for your chance to win simply  leave a comment on this post with the title of another book written by Pip Drysdale. How easy is that? Entries open to Australian residents only, entries close  28th February 2021.  Thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster and to the author for providing  this giveaway. ***

Review: The Paris Affair – Pip Drysdale

The Paris Affair

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781760854331

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

She thinks love can kill you. It turns out she might be right.

Meet Harper Brown…

Occupation: Arts journalist

Dream job: Hard-hitting news reporter

Location: Paris

Loves: True crime podcasts, art galleries, coffee, whiskey

Does not love: fake people, toxic positivity, being told how to live her life by smug workmates who have no life (that’s you, Stan), her narcissistic ex

Favourite book: 1984

Favourite artist: Noah X. Sometimes.

Favourite painting: Klimt’s Schubert at the Piano

Special skills: breaking out of car boots, picking locks and escaping relationships.

Superpower: She can lose any guy in three minutes flat. Ask her how.

Secret: She’s hot on the trail of a murderer – and the scoop of a lifetime.

 

That’s if the killer doesn’t catch her first.

 

My View:

I loved this sassy, modern, exciting, captivating mystery. Set in Paris, this read makes you feels like you are in the city, at the art gallery, in the office, walking along the streets…the settings are brilliant. And the characters are just as well written. Visit the office and recognise some of the character traits Drysdale has instilled in Harper’s colleagues, you will recognise them.  Examine the friendships, the relationships are credible and some familiar.

Flawed yet resilient and strong, the protagonist Harper Brown is gutsy and likeable in a sometimes cringeworthy way. But you will like her. And a bonus – she has a great knowledge of art (or if not, she certainly talks the talk) 😊. And Noah X is …worth reading about.

The murders/mystery elements will keep you guessing.  There are so many well-placed red herrings you will not guess who did.

 

A great read.

 

Review My Best Friend’s Murder – Polly Phillips

My Best Friend’s Murder

Polly Phillips

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781761100178

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide.

 

If I squint, you could be playing Sleeping Bunnies. Or maybe Twister.

 

I wish I could tell you how the blood pooling around your head looks like a halo.

 

But you’re past listening.

 

I need to let the paramedics in. And then I have to be careful.

 

Because as the energy trickles out of your body it’s pumping into mine.

 

And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me.

*

Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They’ve been through a lot together – the death of Bec’s mother, the birth of Izzy’s daughter, Bec’s engagement.

But there’s a darker side to their friendship, too – and Bec is about to reach breaking point.

Then Izzy is found broken and bloodied at the bottom of the stairs.

It could have been an accident – perhaps she fell – but if the police decide to look for a killer, then Bec is sure to be their prime suspect.

*

This is The Rumour meets The Holiday, a compulsive thriller with a toxic but layered friendship at its heart that keeps you in the dark until the final few breathless pages . . .

 

My View:

This is a really interesting read on a few levels. It is a genre I like – crime/mystery/domestic noir, and it has an plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep you guessing – in fact I didn’t work out the culprit – and was surprised when this was revealed (no spoilers). But for me this has been a significant read/discussion about relationships and has left me considering the toxicity of some of those relationships in my life.

 

For me this is a narrative about the stories we tell our self; of memory and how it is influenced by our own desires and need to fit, to belong, to be acknowledged. Reflection  sat heavily with me long after I finished reading this book. Thank Holly Phillips for creating a world that has shone a torch on my own relationships, toxic relationships are hiding within plain sight 😊 Now what to do about them…I don’t have stairs in my house😊 😊

 

PS Polly is a Perth writer – another reason t celebrate this read 😊

 

 

 

Best Crime Fiction Reads of 2020

2020 was a year of unprecedented events and changes. For me I became more involved in my art than in reading but still read around eighty books. There were some stand outs which I will share with you over the next few days.

In no particular order – all great reads.

 

Please See Us: Caitlin Mullen

 

 

Long Bright River: Liz Moore 

 

 

The Janes: Louisa Luna

 

The Silent Wife – Karin Slaughter 

Summerwater: Sarah Moss 

The Good Turn  – Dervla McTiernan 

The Familiar Dark  – Amy Engel 

Red Dirt Country – Fleur McDonald

Trust – Chris Hammer 

House of Correction – Nicci French   

 

 

##Friday Freebie: The Shearer’s Wife – Fleur McDonald

 

Thanks to the fabulous people at Allen & Unwin I have 2 copies of this excellent book to give away.  I f you have never read a Fleur McDonald book here is your opportunity to win a copy and see for yourself why I love this series so much.

In the comments simply tell me the name of the protagonist in this series. **This giveaway is open to Australian residents only. 2 randomly selected winners will be drawn on  3/12/020**

Review: Fortune and Glory – Janet Evanovich

 

Fortune and Glory

Stephanie Plum #27

Janet Evanovich

ISBN: 9781472246196

Headline Review

Hachette Australia

 

Description:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

 

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

 

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

 

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

 

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

 

My View:

Another entertaining, fun and at times, salacious read. Stephanie Plum falls, drops out of windows, headbutts the bad guy, runs through rat infested tunnels and generally attracts chaos and mayhem where ever she goes.  This is a fun light read that is guaranteed to make you smile and think about Ranger (or Morelli  or both) 😊

 

 

Review: The Shearer’s Wife – Fleur McDonald

The Shearer’s Wife

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760876814

RRP$29.99

 

Description:

2020: When the Australian Federal Police swoop unheralded into Barker and make a shocking arrest for possession of narcotics, Detective Dave Burrows is certain there is more to the story than meets the eye. But the Feds insist that Dave is too invested in the town and its people to see the truth of what is happening there.

 

1980: Rose and Ian Kelly arrive in Barker for supplies before they begin shearing at Jacksonville Station, a couple of hundred kilometres out of town. Rose, heavily pregnant with their first babies, worries that despite Ian’s impending fatherhood he remains a drifter who dreams of the open road.

 

The twins arrive early and while Rose recuperates in town after a complicated birth, Ian stays at the Station to finish the shearing. When Ian turns up at job’s end ready to collect them all and move on, Rose is adamant that she and the twins need the support of the community in Barker. Impatiently, Ian sets off alone, leaving Rose and the children behind.

 

2020: After many months of grief over her brother’s illness and death, journalist Zara Ellison is finally ready to begin a new chapter of her life and make a commitment to her boyfriend, Senior Constable Jack Higgins. But when she’s assigned to investigating the Barker arrest, Jack begins to believe that Zara is working against him.

 

It takes a series of unconnected incidents in Zara’s digging to reveal an almost forgotten thread of mystery as to how these two events, forty years apart, could be connected.

 

 

My View:

I wish I had “discovered” Fleur McDonald’s Detective Dave Burrows series a long time ago -unfortunately I judged the books by its cover and hastily disregarded these as “romance”. How wrong was I? Fleur McDonald writes rural crime fiction with a sensitivity and knowledge that makes her narratives believable and her characters empathetic and credible. Fleur McDonald knows small Australian towns.

 

I particular enjoy reading about her protagonist Detective Dave Burrows. Burrows is a knowledgeable cop who has good instincts about people and their intentions, is community minded and liked by most; I’d like to see him come to life on the small screen – I think he would have a big fan following.

 

The Shearer’s Wife is a poignant read. With a dual story time line and a mystery or two, there are so many moments that will cause you to reflect on how difficult life was/is for women in remote locations, whether they be small towns, farms or businesses. This is another intelligent, poignant, engaging mystery from this great writer of small town Australian mysteries. Detective Dave Burrows is my hero 😊

 

Release Day Giveaway: The Law Of Innocence – Michael Connelly

 

The Law of Innocence

Michael Connelly

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760878917

RRP$32.99

 

Description:

It has been seven years since we have had a new Lincoln Lawyer thriller from Michael Connelly. In The Law of Innocence Defence attorney Mickey Haller is pulled
over by police, who find the body of a client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is charged with murder and can’t make the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge. Mickey elects to defend himself and must strategize and build his defence from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles, all the while looking over his shoulder. As an officer of the court, he is an instant target. Mickey knows he has been framed. Now, with the help of his trusted team, he must figure out who has plotted to destroy his life and why. Then he has to go before a judge and jury and prove his innocence.

In his highest stakes case yet, Mickey Haller fights for his life and shows why he is ‘a worthy colleague of Atticus Finch … in the front of the pack in the legal thriller game’ (Los Angeles Times).

 

About Michael Connelly:
A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Connelly is the international bestselling author of the Harry Bosch thriller series and the legal thriller series featuring Mickey Haller, as well as several stand-alone bestsellers. His most recent #1
bestseller is Fair Warning. Michael is the bestselling author of thirty-five novels and one
work of non-fiction. With over seventy-four million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theatres worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent #1 New York Times bestsellers include Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds of Truth, The Late Show, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, The Crossing, The Burning Room, The Gods of Guilt,
and The Black Box. Michael’s crime fiction career was honoured with the Diamond Dagger from the CWA in 2018. Connelly is also the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch.

 

My View:

Another outstanding legal procedural/mystery from this talented writer. 

Once upon a time I used to eagerly await opening my  Christmas presents – there would always be a new Connelly wrapped and under the tree.  I would then devour the book.

These days I cannot wait till Christmas! I acquire as soon as released and then devour! Nom Nom! 

 ***3 lucky Australian residents have a chance to win a copy of this new release simply by listing another book that the Lincoln Layers appears in, in the comments. Winners will be randomly selected 17/11/020 – just in time for the postie to get this to you so you can wrap and put under your tree – if you can resist the temptation to read immediately:) **