Review: The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries

The Stranger Diaries

Elly Griffiths

Hachette Australia

Quercus

ISBN: 9781786487407

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

 

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

 

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

 

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

 

 

My View:

Why is it when I read this my brain keeps shouting Agatha Christie? Is it because of the emphasis on great writing skills rather than gratuitous violence? Is it because like Christie, Elly Griffiths sprinkles little gems of hidden clues throughout the narrative yet at the end you still don’t know who did it? (Well I didn’t J )  Intelligently and succinctly written, I am again reminded of “Golden Age” type mysteries.

 

This is a great read that will keep you guessing to the very end – once you know the ending, maybe like me, you will look back and discover the clues that are gently hidden in plain sight. I hope you enjoy working out this puzzle – I did.

 

 

 

Review: The Slipping Place – Joanna Baker

The Slipping Place

The Slipping Place

Joanna Baker

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384581

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A stunningly compulsive, darkly suspenseful Australian crime novel that asks how far we would go to protect someone we love.

 

Veronica Cruickshank’s youngest child Roland is her idealistic one – a fighter of lost causes, and the one that always needs protecting, particularly from himself.

 

So when she hears he is back in Hobart helping an old school friend, Treen McShane, Veronica tries to track him down – but all she finds are second hand reports, whispers of horrific abuse, stories of a small child being hurt.

 

Then Roland sends Veronica a text message, asking her to go to the Slipping Place, high on Mount Wellington, a picnic spot known only to their family. Here she discovers Treen’s frozen body.

 

Knowing Roland will be suspected of leaving Treen to die, Veronica resolves to find out what really happened. But as long-buried truths slowly surface, she uncovers a secret that brings the violence closer to home than she could have ever imagined…

 

 

My View:

An evocative read that conjures up the illusion of mania, psychosis and paranoia in a disturbing manner that will compel you to keep reading. I willingly followed Baker as she skilfully leads me away from the actual killer and entangles me in a web of deceit and half-truths.

 

The scene that describes the staircase incident is lyrical and gothic – images of floating fabric, the hysteria…no spoilers but this is a very visual scene.

 

A haunting read centering on the many facets, meanings of “family”.

 

PS – love the cover art.

 

 

 

Review: Take Me In – Sabine Durrant

Take Me In

Take Me In

Sabine Durrant

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books

Hodder

ISBN: 9781473608368

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

The sensational new thriller from the author of the Richard & Judy bestseller Lie With Me.

 

‘Need a reminder of what makes thrillers great? Read this.’ Emerald Street

 

Tessa and Marcus went on holiday to save their marriage.

Instead they nearly lost their son.

 

In that fatal moment of inattention a stranger stepped in. And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.

 

They owe him – they know that – but he seems to want everything. He’s on the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s knocking at their front door…

 

And he’s exposing secrets they would do anything to hide.

 

If they could just go back. Not make that one terrible mistake.

 

But it’s never how it starts that matters. It’s always how it ends.

 

 

My View:

I am a big fan of this author. She never fails to surprise me, to lead me completely and easily away from the essence of truth in the narrative, I am always amazed and sometimes petrified by the end of the story.

 

You will read this in two sittings: there is so much tension, so much anticipation of the worst to come that you will walk away and let the knots unravel in your stomach before you pick this book up again and finish reading. A powerful read.

Review: The Sunday Girl – Pip Drysdale

The Sunday Girl

The Sunday Girl

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925685824

 

Description:

The Girl on the Train meets Before I Go to Sleep with a dash of Bridget Jones in this chilling tale of love gone horribly wrong …

 

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.

 

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge. Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle, he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again. So Taylor consulted The Art of War and made a plan. Then she took the next step – one that would change her life forever.

 

Then things get really out of control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

 

 

My View:

“You always know where your heart belongs when it gets to Sunday and there is only one person in the whole world you want to curl up with on the sofa.” P.59

 

This is a read in one sitting, forget what’s happening in the outside world as you urge the protagonist to safety. Secretly you smile as her plan begins to form – who hasn’t harboured a little grudge against an ex before? You empathise, you become a silent player in this game of cat and mouse. And then…

 

Well you will just have to read this yourself to find out.

 

 

Domestic noir at its pulse racing best!  This is my perfect read. More please!

Flashback Thursday: Review – Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane

Since we Fell

Since we Fell

Denis Lehane

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408708347

 

Description:

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

 

My View:

 WOW!!!!

 I am so sorry that I am late to this party. This book has been sitting on my TBR forever – through no fault of its own it got passed over, left on the shelf, buried by new releases. I am so sorry. Dennis Lehane is a great writer, I was already aware of his fabulous narrative writing skills from a previous read but this standalone takes the rating up a notch or two, it is outstanding.

 

So if you have this book sitting somewhere amongst your To Be Read pile, sitting on a shelf, languishing in the dark – I implore you, set it free, read it, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

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: The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas

The Psychology of Time Travel

The Psychology of Time Travel

Kate Mascarenhas

Harper Collins

Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781788540117

 

Description:

1967: Four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril.

 

2017: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future–a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady.

 

2018: When Odette discovered the body, she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, flesh. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

 

 

My View:

This is a really difficult book to review because it is unique; the cover might look soft and fuzzy but the content is complex, at times brutal and always interesting. It is a mash up of genres- time travel, romance and a family orientated, murder mystery with a serious feminist bent that uses the framework of time travel to reflect on issues relating to power, control, bullying, hazing, racism, workplace harassment, mental health, the justice system and sexual equality (my list is not exhaustive).

 

The characters are all very strong, intelligent, talented, resourceful women. It is so unusual to find a narrative where intelligent women in control of their own futures, shape and dictate the narrative; this is feminism that doesn’t preach its message, it doesn’t “tell” just “shows” without anger or recriminations; it just “is”. And in doing so, is such a refreshing read. Bravo!