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.

Review: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone – Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143795650

Description:
Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle meet Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club in this fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.

Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.

The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common- we’ve all killed someone.

My brother.
My step-sister
My wife
My father
My mother
My sister-in-law
My uncle
My stepfather
My aunt
Me

My View:
This book got me at …”Call me a reliable narrator. Everything I tell you will be the truth ,or, at least the truth as I knew it to be at the time. Hold me to that….I am both Watson and Detective in this book, where I play both writer and sleuth, and so am obliged to to both light up clues and not conceal my thoughts. In short: play fair…Actually I will prove it. If you are just here for the gory details, deaths in this book happen or are reported to have happened on p14, and page 46, and page…..” p2

And in a blink I am hooked! I loved the style, Golden Age cross…modern mystery?? the voice, the “writer” talking to the reader, the jokes, self depreciation , the mystery…the thrilling end.

A great read I hope you enjoy it too.

** Margot this is one you must read! **

Review: The Torrent – Dinuka McKenzie

The Torrent

Dinuka McKenzie

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460760192

RRP $32.99

Description:

A loving husband lost to devastating summer floods. A teenage girl injured during a robbery. Two seemingly unconnected cases that will push a detective to the brink.


An atmospheric, compelling new voice in Australian crime fiction.


In Northern New South Wales, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is exhausted and counting down the days. But a violent hold-up at a local fast-food restaurant with unsettling connections to her own past, means that her final days will be anything but straightforward.

When a second case is dumped on her lap, the closed case of man drowned in recent summer floods, what begins as a simple informal review quickly grows into something more complicated. Kate can either write the report that’s expected of her or investigate the case the way she wants to.

As secrets and betrayals pile up, and the needs of her own family intervene, how far is Kate prepared to push to discover the truth? 

My View:

Dinuka McKenzie is the 2020 winner of the Banjo Prize for fiction. This debut work introduces us to the main characters, the locations, the culture, and nuances of daily life for the protagonist and her family. This is a very “human” look at policing in regional areas, of women’s lives ( it was pertinent that I read this around the marking of International Women’s Day) for I believe this is also a feminist novel. If I was still in uni I would say this could easily be a required read – looking at the intersection of gender, culture and power in Australia but I am not, I have my degree, so I will just say this; this is a book that has worked hard to get the reader to “know” the characters and the landscape of this book of crime fiction. Once we have fully immersed ourselves in this “space”, the pace picks up and the intrigue deepens. What once once a slow burn hisses and spits, the temperature hot hot hot!

A very satisfying read, a very human perspective of life , of crimes committed and their consequences, of looking deeper at situations, of what if’s and what now? I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I do love a character lead book of crime fiction.

Review: Blind Date – Brenda Chapman

Blind Date

Hunter and Tate #1

Brenda Chapman

Kindle

ASIN: B09PNWW5GK

Description:

Nobody’s safe when a killer has you in their sights.

True crime podcaster Ella Tate is shaken to her core by the horrific assault and murder of Josie Wheatly, a teacher she has never met … because not only had Josie moved into Ella’s vacated apartment three months earlier, but her Facebook photos reveal a striking resemblance between the two women.

Within days, two people close to Ella are harmed, and she fears that she’s become the target of twisted revenge from her crime-reporting days. Reluctantly teaming up with her neighbour Tony, a hairdresser who loves the finer things in life, and Liam Hunter, the persistent detective assigned to the cases, Ella struggles to stay one step ahead before she becomes the target of the final kill.

My View:

It is no secret that I have been a long time fan of Brenda Chapman’s,  The Stonechild and Rouleau police procedurals. After I finished the last in that series, I did wonder what we might expect next from this accomplished author, I was so pleased to discover Blind Date.,

In Blind Date Chapman has created another very followable partnership of crime investigators- Ella – true crime pod caster/journalist and Hunter, cop. I like this this team. We learn a lot about Ella in this read, her past, her family, her trauma, her resilience. Hunter’s role in this book, whilst important, was not the focus and I am sure that in the next book in the series we will get to know Hunter a lot better.

Character lead crime fiction is one of my favourite genres and if its one you love you will not go wrong picking up a copy of this just released book. I cant wait to read more about Ella Tate and Liam Hunter

Review: Wild Dogs – Michael Trant

Wild Dogs

Michael Trant

Bantam Australia

ISBN:9781761046773

RRP $32.99

Description:

Wild Dogs is a page-turning action thriller set in the WA outback, introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher

‘Tough, fast and hard – my kind of book.’ -Lee Child

In the drought-ridden rangelands of Western Australia, Gabe Ahern makes his living trapping wild dogs for local station owners.

Still coming to terms with his wife’s death – and the part he played in it – the old bushman leads a solitary life. Until one morning, when he rescues a young Afghan man, Amin, from certain execution.

Now, with a gang of people smugglers on his tail and the lives of Amin’s family on the line, Gabe is drawn into a ruthless game of cat and mouse. His main opponent is Chase Fowler, a kangaroo hunter with bush skills as wily and sharp as his own.

As the old dogger and roo-shooter go head to head, Gabe will need all his cunning to come out of this alive…


Wild Dogs is a just-one-more-chapter thriller that kept me up long after lights out.’ -Jack Heath 

My View:

Firstly I would like to disagree with the statement” ….introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher“. This book is so much more interesting, complex, taut, gutsy, and raw; so much better than any Jack Reacher (apologies Lee Child, nothing personal).

WOW!!! That about sums up my reaction to this book. Read it, I think you will agree with me. 🙂