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. 🙂

Review: Notes on an Execution, Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Execution

Danya Kukaefka

Hachette Australia

Phoenix

ISBN:9781474625968

Description:

In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life—from the bestselling author of Girl in Snow.

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.

Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.

My View:

I finished reading this book last night and it is still siting with me, nudging me to think, reminding me of the subtleties exposed, the many “what if’s”, the many ways violence is perpetrated against women.

One of the most interesting questions this book raises is why do we continually look for excuses for bad behavior and then accept the behaviour? I love how this question has been woven into the text; the excuse of bad parenting/poor role models, nature versus nurture, low socio economic influences, a hint of a head injury, needing a chance, “it’s not his fault”… the list goes on.

This book begins with a horrific story of domestic abuse; the grooming, the social isolation, the financial control, control of resources – including food… this in itself is a shocking but accurate portrait of abuse. Into this situation a serial killer is born. Once this part of the narrative is unlocked, we then see the world mostly through the eyes of the women in the orbit of this killer, who is now on death row.

This is an intelligently written discourse on violence against women, the excuses we make to ourselves, the excuses society seems keen to seek out, and a serial killer narrative all at the same time – what a feat to capture so much in one book! Taught, at times ugly, very sad, thought provoking, engaging…

5 Stars.

Review: Exit .45 – Ben Sanders

Exit .45

Ben Sanders

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781761065590

RRP 29.99

Description:

Marshall Grade returns in an action-packed thrillride through the New York underworld.

When a former NYPD colleague is shot dead in front of him, private investigator Marshall Grade discovers there’s far more to the killing than meets the eye.

Ray Vialoux is in trouble. Big trouble. And he needs Marshall Grade’s help.

Reluctantly, Grade agrees to meet. Over dinner in a Brooklyn restaurant, he learns that his former NYPD colleague owes money – a lot of money – to the wrong people. But the conversation is cut short by gunfire, and suddenly Ray is lying dead on the restaurant floor.

As Marshall investigates the circumstances leading up to the murder, tracking down the drug dealers, bag men, bent cops and mob players within Ray’s orbit, it becomes clear there’s far more to the killing than a gambling debt. Just who is responsible for Vialoux’s death . . . and why? What secrets are his family hiding? And can Marshall find the answers before his own history marks him as the prime suspect?

‘It’s easy to see what the fuss is about. Sanders’ prose is sharper than a switchblade . . . It’s like Raymond Chandler, Lee Child and Elmore Leonard rolled into one.’ – Sydney Morning Herald on American Blood

My View:

If you are a fan of crime fiction, if you love a great procedural, if you turn over the last page and sigh and mutter “oh…”under your breath in disappointment that you have reached the end of an excellent, engaging, tension packed read, then this book is for you 🙂

5 stars. Encore.

Guest Review: Canticle Creek – Adrian Hyland

Canticle Creek

Adrian Hyland

Ultimo Press

ISBN: 9781761150036

Description:

When Adam Lawson’s wrecked car is found a kilometre from Daisy Baker’s body, the whole town assumes it’s an open and shut case. But Jesse Redpath isn’t from Canticle Creek. Where she comes from, the truth often hides in plain sight, but only if you know where to look.

When Jesse starts to ask awkward questions, she uncovers a town full of contradictions and a cast of characters with dark pasts, secrets to hide and even more to lose.

As the temperature soars, and the ground bakes, the wilderness surrounding Canticle Creek becomes a powderkeg waiting to explode.

All it needs is one spark.

Brenda’s View:

Jesse Redpath was a police officer in the small town of Kulara in the Northern Territory where she saw more than most and controlled more than most. Since Jesse took over, crime had greatly lessened in the area. When young Adam Lawson went up before the magistrate once again, Jesse persuaded him to allow Adam to live with her father Ben, and work at the local pub, to work his hours out. If he absconded, he would be arrested and thrown in jail. Adam managed quite some time with Ben Redpath – both of them artists and Ben directed Adam, gave him some pointers. But Adam had itchy feet, apologizing to his mentor and taking off down south.

When Jesse heard through her boss that Adam had been found not far from Melbourne in Victoria, she wasn’t prepared to hear he was dead. She also wasn’t prepared to hear he’d murdered a woman and had crashed a stolen car into a tree while fleeing the town. Jesse was certain the Adam she knew wouldn’t have a bar of killing, so she and her dad headed for Melbourne, then a small town about an hour north-east of there, called Canticle Creek, to unofficially look into the deaths.

Canticle Creek was a hot bed of secrets amid the soaring heat of the summer sun. As Jesse made herself known to the local cops, she made some friends – and enemies – while investigating. Possum, a sixteen-year-old young woman who had more smarts than some adults Jesse had met, was intelligent and helpful. But what would they find in the small town of Canticle Creek?

Canticle Creek is the first book in 10 years from Aussie author Adrian Hyland and it was well worth waiting for! A tension filled, suspenseful crime novel set in the ravaging heat of the Northern Territory and Victoria, where bushfires kept the locals on edge, and the heat baked everything in its path. I’ve read each of Mr Hyland’s books and loved them all; Canticle Creek, with its captivating cover, is one I recommend highly.

With thanks to Ultimo Press AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

**Love the cover art work. This book has so much appeal**

Review: Game On – Tempting Twenty-Eight – Janet Evanovich

Game On

Janet Evanovich

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781398510135

Description:

Stephanie Plum returns to hunt down a master cyber-criminal operating out of Trenton in the 28th book in the wildly popular series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

When Stephanie Plum is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of footsteps in her apartment, she wishes she didn’t keep her gun in the cookie jar in her kitchen. And when she finds out the intruder is fellow apprehension agent Diesel, six feet of hard muscle and bad attitude whom she hasn’t seen in more than two years, she still thinks the gun might come in handy.

Turns out Diesel and Stephanie are on the trail of the same fugitive: Oswald Wednesday, an international computer hacker as brilliant as he is ruthless. Stephanie may not be the most technologically savvy sleuth, but she more than makes up for that with her dogged determination, her understanding of human nature, and her willingness to do just about anything to bring a fugitive to justice. Unsure if Diesel is her partner or her competition in this case, she’ll need to watch her back every step of the way as she sets the stage to draw Wednesday out from behind his computer and into the real world.

My View:

Very possibly the best book in this wacky and entertaining series! This is escapism at it very best – I love this series and look forward to the new Recovery Agent series that will be published early next year – this one looks like my type of read (at the end of Game on is a sneak peek of the first chapter in the new series).

Game on is a fabulous, light, entertaining, romantic ( this is how I like to read romance 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) slapstick read. Perfect to end this tumultuous year on.

Guest Review:Deception Creek – Fleur McDonald

Deception Creek

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 9781760878825

Description:
A returned criminal, a cult-like family and cybercrime all clash against the backdrop of the Flinders Ranges in this thrilling new rural suspense novel from the best-selling Voice of the Outback.

Emma Cameron, a recently divorced farmer and a local in Barker, runs Deception Creek, the farm that three generations of her family have owned before her. Every day Emma pushes herself hard on the land, hoping to make ten-year-old memories of a terrible car accident disappear. And now there are more recent nightmares of an ex-husband who refuses to understand how much the farm means to Emma.

When criminal Joel Hammond is released from jail and heads home to Barker, Detective Dave Burrows and his officer Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins are on high alert. Joel has a long and sorry history with many of the townsfolk and they are not keen to see him home to stay.

Not all of the Barker locals want to see Joel run out of town though. Some even harbour doubts about Joel’s conviction. The town finds itself split down the middle, families pitted against each other with devastating outcomes.

Brenda’s View:
When Joel Hammond returned to Barker, to his hometown and the home his parents had left him when they died, he’d known it wouldn’t be easy. But he hadn’t expected the anger and hate directed at him by a prominent family in town. Joel had been convicted of fraud at his job in Adelaide and went to jail for five years, before adding another four years for assault while inside. He was a changed man, but he just wanted the past behind him.

Emma Cameron owned and ran Deception Creek, the property which had been in her family for generations, and she loved her work. She had farm hand Matt working for her and he’d been reliable and a great support with all his farming knowledge over the six years he’d been working on Deception Creek. Emma had been first on scene to a fatal accident nine years prior and still had nightmares from the memories; now with her recent divorce, she wanted to bury herself in her work on the farm and try to forget her worries.

Detective Dave Burrows and Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins both felt there was something dangerous hovering over their town. With Joel back, unhappy residents, strangers in town, Jack and Dave were both on high alert. What would be the outcome of the uneasy atmosphere in Barker? Would Dave and Jack be able to keep the peace?

Deception Creek is another outstanding, tense suspense novel from Aussie author Fleur McDonald which I absolutely loved. The author is up there on my favourites list – I always look forward to her next book! Well crafted characters, and of course my favourites – Dave Burrows and Jack Higgins – lead the way in this phenomenal read which I highly recommend.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.