Review: Home Before Night – J.P. Pomare

Home Before Night

J P Pomare

Hachette Australia

ISBN:9780733649547

RRP $32.99

Description:

As the third wave of the virus hits, all inhabitants of Melbourne are given until 8 pm to get to their homes. Wherever they are when the curfew begins, they must live for four weeks and stay within five kilometres of. When Lou’s son, Samuel, doesn’t arrive home by nightfall, she begins to panic.

He doesn’t answer his phone. He doesn’t message. His social media channels are inactive. Lou is out of her mind with worry, but she can’t go to the police, because she has secrets of her own. Secrets that Samuel just can’t find out about. Lou must find her son herself and bring him home.

My View:

I felt this was a book of two parts- the first – I just could not work out what was going on…the unreliable narrator worked exceptionally well but I was confused as to the point. The suddenly the pointy bits struck me! The later part of the book was masterful and made sense of everything else…A quick read…See if you can work it out before the end.

Review: Standing in the Shadows – Peter Robinson

Standing in the Shadows

Peter Robinson

Hodder & Stoughton

Hachette Australia

ISBN:9781529343175

RRP $34.99

Description:

The brilliant new novel in the number one bestselling Alan Banks crime series – by the master of the police procedural.

‘The best mystery-procedural series on the market. Try one and tell me I’m wrong’ STEPHEN KING

Late November, 1980. Student Nick Hartley returns from a lecture to find his house full of police officers. As he discovers that his ex-girlfriend has been found murdered in a nearby park, and her new boyfriend is missing, he realises two things in quick succession: he is undoubtedly a suspect as he has no convincing alibi, and he has own suspicions as to what might have happened . . .

Late November 2019. An dig near Scotch Corner unearths a skeleton that turns out to be far more recent than the Roman remains the archaeologist is looking for. Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called in and, as an investigation into the find begins, the past and the present meet with devastating consequences.

My View:

This duel time line starts slowly, establishing characters and landscape, it kind of has that “Midsomer Murders” vibe, comfortable and well written. The pace quickens towards the end…and a few surprises are shared.

This is a well established series and fan will enjoy another episode of this English police procedural.

Review: Small Mercies – Dennis Lehane

Small Mercies

Dennis Lehane

Abacus Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN:9780349145761

RRP $32.99

Description:

The brilliant new novel from New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane.

Small Mercies is thought provoking, engaging, enraging, and can’t-put-it-down entertainment’ Stephen King

‘A jaw-dropping thriller… a resonant, unflinching story written by a novelist who is simply one of the best around’ Gillian Flynn


New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane returns with a masterpiece to rival Mystic River – an all-consuming tale of revenge, family love, festering hate, and insidious power, set against one of the most tumultuous episodes in Boston’s history.

‘Mrs. Fennessy, please go home.’
‘And do what?’
‘Whatever you do when you’re home.’
‘And then what?’
‘Get up the next day and do it again.’
She shakes her head. ‘That’s not living.’
‘It is if you can find the small blessings.’
She smiles, but her eyes shine with agony. ‘All my small blessings are gone.’

In the summer of 1974 a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessey is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Mary Pat has lived her entire life in the housing projects of ‘Southie’, the Irish American enclave that stubbornly adheres to old tradition and stands proudly apart.

One night Mary Pat’s teenage daughter Jules stays out late and doesn’t come home. That same evening, a young Black man is found dead, struck by a subway train under mysterious circumstances.

The two events seem unconnected. But Mary Pat, propelled by a desperate search for her missing daughter, begins turning over stones best left untouched – asking questions that bother Marty Butler, chieftain of the Irish mob, and the men who work for him, men who don’t take kindly to any threat to their business.

Set against the hot, tumultuous months when the city’s desegregation of its public schools exploded in violence, Small Mercies is a superb thriller, a brutal depiction of criminality and power, and an unflinching portrait of the dark heart of American racism.

My View:

Have you been suffering from a reading slump lately? I have, but this one has shocked me awake! It is brilliant! Touching, engaging, brutal, honest…yet ultimately hopeful. The character Mary Pat is central to unlocking this ray of hope…her love for her children is the standout feature of this read – it is fierce and burns through a lifetime of lies and manipulation allowing Mary Pat and the reader to to understand how an entire neighborhood/city has been manipulated for the personal gain of a few morally bankrupt men. Her love is an erupting volcano – sweeping aside, burning up all that dare stand in her way of finding her child. Holding these men to account is her mission. Despite all her faults we, the reader, cheer her on an enlightened Mary Pat.

Yes I loved this read. Harsh, brutal, violent, yet I loved it and read in one sitting. Dennis Lehane is a brilliant storyteller.

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.