Review: The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson

The Forbidden Place

The Forbidden Place

Susanne Jansson

Translated by Rachel Wilson-Broyles

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books

Hodder

ISBN: 9781473668553

RRP $ 29.99

 

Description:

In the North Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

 

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

 

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

 

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.

 

 

My View:

My very first impression of this book was created by the wonderful cover art; it succinctly conveys the almost Gothic like chilliness that pervades the landscape, there is an almost palpable sense of mystery, unease and intrigue. Fog, mist, swamp, peat bogs, isolation… the landscape is such a huge character in this book.

 

Moody with finely drawn characters, spiced with a little history, sadness and spooky folk tales, these are the elements that provide the skeleton for this chilling narrative to build on. A great read and a wonderful debut, I look forward to reading more books by this author.

 

PS This is brilliantly and appears effortlessly, translated.

 

 

Review: Broken Ground -Val McDermid

Broken Ground

Broken Ground

Karen Pirie #5

Val McDermid

Little, Brown

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781408709368

 

Description:

Number one bestseller and queen of crime Val McDermid returns with her most breathtakingly atmospheric and exhilarating novel yet.

 

‘Somebody has been here before us. And he’s still here . . .’

 

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

 

It’s not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however – a shocking crime she thought she’d already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own . . .

 

‘Another stellar read from McDermid, and further evidence that her “Queen of Crime” status will not be challenged’ Scotsman

 

‘There is nothing more gratifying than watching a master craftswoman at work, and she is on fine form here’ Observer

 

‘A compulsively readable tale’ Irish Times

 

 

My View:

Markie wondered how Pirie had survived in the job as long as she had. The woman seemed to have no understanding of how relationships with colleagues were built. How had she been allowed to spiral so far out of control? Closing cases was all well and good, but in the modern police service, being a team player involved more than a team of two. Clearly Pirie couldn’t be brought to heel. She had to be replaced…” (p. 117)

 

Another great episode in DCI Karen Pirie series that weaves a peat bog murder, a serial rapist cold case, domestic violence, a new love interest and a boss who is actively trying to find the grounds to remove Karen Pirie from her job and you have an engaging, exciting and satisfying read.

 

And as DCI Karen Pirie ponders at the end of this episode (p.412) “Like an arrest, this too was only the end of the beginning.”  And I can’t wait to discover what happens next…

 

   

Review: Greenlight- Benjamin Stevenson

Greenlight

Greenlight

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789871

 

Description:

Four years ago Eliza Dacey was brutally murdered.

Within hours, her killer was caught.

Wasn’t he?

 

So reads the opening titles of Jack Quick’s new true-crime documentary.

 

A skilled producer, Jack knows that the bigger the conspiracy, the higher the ratings. Curtis Wade, convicted of Eliza’s murder on circumstantial evidence and victim of a biased police force, is the perfect subject. Millions of viewers agree.

 

Just before the finale, Jack uncovers a minor detail that may prove Curtis guilty after all. Convinced it will ruin his show, Jack disposes of the evidence and delivers the finale unedited: proposing that Curtis is innocent.

 

But when Curtis is released, and a new victim is found bearing horrifying similarities to the original murder, Jack realises that he may have helped a guilty man out of jail. And, as the only one who knows the real evidence of the case, he is the only one who can send him back …

 

 

My View:

About Benjamin Stevenson (https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/benjamin-stevenson):

 

Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. He has sold out shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has appeared on ABCTV, Channel 10, and The Comedy Channel. Off-stage, Benjamin has worked for publishing houses and literary agencies in Australia and the USA. He currently works with some of Australia’s best-loved authors at Curtis Brown Australia. Greenlight is his first novel.

 

I have just finished reading Greenlight and wanted to know a little bit about the author as I was very impressed with this debut.  What a surprise – a comedian? There is no comedy in Greenlight.  Works in the publishing industry, I was sure I was going to find but didn’t – works in the film industry, specifically on documentaries, his protagonist Jack has an authentic documentary maker voice.  I loved this aspect of the book.

 

Back to the book – this is a brutal, dark and intriguing crime fiction narrative.

 

I like how Stevenson has turned the stereotype regarding eating disorders on its head; a sad yet refreshing and honest approach here.

 

Consequences, guilt, redemption and acceptance are themes that are sited in small town prejudices. Tension, tension, tension. And the ending – no spoilers here. Think you have it worked out? Think again.

 

A great read.

 

Review: Careless Love – Peter Robinson

Careless Love

Careless Love

Peter Robinson

Hachette Australia

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN:  9781444786989

 

Description:

A young local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why?

 

Meanwhile a man in his sixties is found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland. He is wearing an expensive suit and carrying no identification. Post-mortem findings indicate he died from injuries sustained during the fall. But what was he doing up there? And why are there no signs of a car in the vicinity?

 

As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants – and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.

 

 

My View:

I am a little ambivalent about this particular DI Banks read. Contemporary themes and an intriguing crime were not enough to demand my complete attention to this read. I drifted, put the book down and read over several days.  I was annoyed by frequent musical references which seemed to stymie the flow of the narration and were a little pretentious. Why didn’t I feel this way about the last book? I don’t even recall there being such a heavy burden of musical references in pasts reads… maybe I felt uncomfortable with them in this episode because I wasn’t immersed in the narrative this time?

 

Despite these misgiving, by the end of the book I actually was keen to discover Zelda’s secrets/ news.  In the very last few lines of the book Zelda seeks out DI Banks, she obviously has an important story to share.  I was disappointed the book finished here, to be continued I do believe.

 

 

 

 

Review: All the Hidden Truths- Claire Askew

All The Hidden Truths

All the Hidden Truths

Claire Askew

Hachette Australia

Hodder & & Stoughton

ISBN: 9781473673038

 

Description:

A wrenching, gripping, unforgettable debut crime novel for fans of Susie Steiner and Kate Atkinson.

 

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

 

But no one can say why.

 

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

 

A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.

 

 

My View:

This book has All the Feels!  Intrigue, mystery, loss, grief, despair, resilience…love. This really is an exploration of what it is to be human when faced with a gut wrenching tragedy.  The spotlight is focussed firmly on the reactions and the responses that reflect the best and the worst in those close to the situation.

 

Despite knowing the who done it from the back cover synopsis and the opening chapters, the sense of urgency and the tensions ricochet off the pages.  There are characters you will love and those who you will despise; you will recognise some of the traits of the characters portrayed here in people you know. Your gut will be tied in knots as you react to the tensions and the mystery that is explored on the pages. Tension, tension, tension – what a wonderful wordsmith Claire Askew is to have created such a powerful narrative.

 

A complex situation is explored in great depth from many perspectives except that of the murderer, which allows you to form your own conclusion about the why of this crime. I loved the clever, surprising and heart-warming conclusion.

 

This is an author to watch out for.

 

 

Review: Liar Liar – James Patterson and Candice Fox

Liar Liar

Liar Liar

James Patterson and Candice Fox

Penguin Random House Australia

Century

ISBN: 9780143787471

 

Description:

Revenge is coming, and her name is Harriet Blue . . .

Detective Harriet Blue is clear about two things. Regan Banks deserves to die. And she’ll be the one to pull the trigger.

 

But Regan – the Georges River Killer and the man responsible for destroying her brother’s life – has gone to ground. And now Harriet needs to disappear too – before her colleagues stop her carrying out an act that could end her career, her freedom, even her life.

 

Suddenly, her phone rings. It’s him. Regan. And he wants to play ‘catch me if you can’.

 

Within hours Harry is following his clues along a path of devastation down the Australian south coast. Town by town, Regan is taking lives, and each one is someone she knows well.

 

With both of them wanted on every newspaper and every television screen, time is running out. Harry needs to stop this killing machine fast before her chance for vengeance slips away . . .

 

 

My View:

A year or so ago I went to a local book launch and met, in person, Candice Fox. I really admire her tenacity, her “writing story”, her enthusiasm and the opportunity she was just beginning to work on – the joint writing efforts with James Patterson.  Bravo Candice! What a fabulous opportunity for you.

 

Candice spoke a little about the process of writing a co-written book – it was intriguing. After I have now read an example of this process

(Harriet Blue #3) the writing, two as one is flawless.  A gritty, tough and very physical narrative, I am sure if you enjoyed Candice’s Archer and Bennett series you will enjoy this read.

 

PS

If you are a crime fiction writer out there in the world of the internet – I would love to try writing chapters of a book with you J

 

Review: Pieces of Her – Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her

Karin Slaughter

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460751756

 

Description:

The electrifying new thriller from international bestseller Karin Slaughter explores the deadly secrets kept between a mother and daughter.

 

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

 

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She’s knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Gullaway Island; she knows she’s never had any more ambition than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

 

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. A side which is a million miles from the quiet, gentle woman who brought her up. And more than that, news coverage of the mall attack puts Laura’s face on every TV screen in the country – and leaves her terrified. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura she was someone completely different. For nearly 30 years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one will ever find her and re-open the wounds left by the terrible events which made it impossible for her ever to go back. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Twenty-four hours later Laura is in hospital, shot by an intruder who’s spent thirty years trying to track her down and discover what she knows. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumbs of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either of them…

 

 

My View:

I don’t know why I am always surprised when I read a Karin Slaughter standalone – by now I should know that it will be a fantastic read, with mystery, intrigue, a great in depth look at the human condition, prose to make you think and a murder or two. This is another such brilliant book – totally different to anything else I have read by this author (which is a good surprise), you could call this a coming of age meets a seasoned manipulator who has never experienced the bonds and sacrifice that is a mother’s love.

 

Another great read from this fabulous author.