Review: The Accusation – Wendy James

The Accusation

Wendy James

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460752388

 

Description:

A bizarre abduction. A body of damning evidence. A world of betrayal.

 

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, clad only in ill-fitting pyjamas. Her story of kidnap and escape quickly enthrals the nation: a middle-aged woman with a crazy old mother has held Ellie in a basement, chained her to a bed and given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup. But who was this woman and what did she want with Ellie? And what other secrets might she hide?

When the accusation is levelled at local teacher Suzannah Wells, no one seems more bewildered than Suzannah herself … to start with. The preposterous charge becomes manifestly more real as she loses her job and her friends. And the evidence is strong: a dementia-affected mother, a house with a basement, a sippy cup that belonged to her long-dead daughter. And Ellie Canning’s DNA everywhere. As stories about Susannah’s past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt she’s innocent.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

 

A powerful exploration of the fragility of trust, and the power of suggestion, from the author of The Golden Child and The Mistake.

 

Praise for the Golden Child:

‘The novel is cleverly constructed, the characters are extremely well-drawn, the use of social media as a plot device is very sophisticated, and the resolution is a genuine surprise’ Judges’ report, Ned Kelly Crime Awards, 2017.

 

 

My View:

Credible!  Readable!  Powerful!

What a fantastic read!!!

 

This is a fabulous read that kept me up till the early hours trying to work out the knots and twists in this plot. Like a skillful magician, Wendy James directs our attention to view the scenarios in a particular way, provides glimpses, hints, clues then redirects our attention to other possibilities.

I do love an unreliable narrator.  A fast paced read with some surprising reveals, I predict an award or two for this novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Rough Diamond (Erica Jewell #1) – Kathryn Ledson

Rough Diamond

Erica Jewell #1

Kathryn Ledson

Pilyara Press

ASIN: B07L3Y6XHV

 

Description:

Funny, romantic and action-packed, Rough Diamond introduces Australia’s unforgettable Erica Jewell.

 

The shock ending to Erica Jewell’s marriage has left a huge hole in her bank balance and a bigger one in her heart. So now this office worker’s goals make a very short list: no surprises, no debt and, definitely, no men. That is, until she finds one bleeding to death in her Melbourne garden one stormy night.

Jack Jones is a man whose emotional wounds are more life-threatening than the bullet in his shoulder. When he recruits Erica to his secret team of vigilantes, Erica suspects her safe, predictable world is about to be inverted.

And she’s absolutely right.

 

My View:

Fun, exciting, mysterious and oh so Australian – I love this read!

Kathryn Ledson has created a wonderful female protagonist, Erica Jewell and in this, the first book in the series, we are introduced to a set of main characters that face adversity head on. This is a thrilling, fast paced mystery that is tempered with humour and a hint of romance.

This series would make fantastic TV! The world is ready to meet Erica Jewell.

 

 

 

 

Review: Under the Midnight Sky – Anna Romer

Under the Midnight Sky

Anna Romer

Simon and Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925184457

 

Description:

Chilling secrets buried deep in wild bushland drive this thrilling new novel from bestseller Anna Romer

 

When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.

 

But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.

 

As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.

 

But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

 

My View

I really enjoyed this darker, haunting, contemporary read from this author who never disappoints. On the surface this is a gritty mystery, dig a little deeper and you will find it is a contemporary exploration of the cycle of violence/trauma and how it can affect the individual and generations.  I loved how this theme was discussed via the dual time line incidents: mysteries in both generations.

Typical of Anna Romer there is her trade mark use of old documents (in this case a diary), an old building with a  Gothic charm- with secrets of its own, mystery and a little romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I hope you will too.

 

 

 

 

Review: Boxed – Richard Anderson

Boxed

Richard Anderson

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925713657

 

Description:

When life delivers you gifts you don’t want.

 

Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about him.

 

And then boxes begin to arrive in the mail: boxes that he didn’t order, but ones that everyone around him seems to want desperately. As he tries to find out the secret of the boxes, Dave is drawn into a crazy world of red herrings and wrong turns, good guys and bad, false friends and true, violence, lust, fear, revenge, and a lot, lot more. It’s not a world he understands, but is it the only one Dave can live in?

 

 

My View:

Last year I read Richard Anderson’s debut Retribution – it was a stunning read – tension filled, evocative…with some thought provoking social commentary set in rural Australia, I loved it. When I was offered an opportunity to read Richard’s latest book “Boxed” I leapt at the chance and I was not disappointed.

 

Boxed is set in another rural small town – mysteries abound and personal tragedies /grief inform the mood of the narrative. (No spoilers here).  I love that contemporary issues are woven into this mystery, that there is hope and a wonderful sense of community, that the characters are richly drawn and empathetic and that the mystery element shines brightly. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

 

Richard Anderson has a talent for storytelling that is mesmerising. I cannot wait to read what he writes next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: 55 – James Delargy

55

James Delargy

Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781471184635

 

Description:

*** There were 54 victims before this. Who is number 55? ***

A thriller with a killer hook, and an ending that will make you gasp!

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

 

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

 

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

 

Heath is a serial killer.

 

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

 

Gabriel is the serial killer.

 

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

 

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer. This novel has been sold in 19 countries so far and has just been optioned for film.

 

 

My View:

I don’t think I have come across a book of crime fiction that has such an interesting theme; suspect or victims, two identical stories. Who is telling the truth?

 

This is a story of family, of connections, of missing people, of the past and how it can shape our future and of course, crime. With a dual time line, we follow the fate of two rookie policeman searching the remote countryside for a missing person. We learn of their individual characters, their empathies, their aspirations as we join the search for the missing man.  The terrain, the isolated, hostile, unforgiving countryside is the largest character in this work. It has a huge impact on all that happens in this narrative.  Don’t underestimate its power.

 

In the current time we again follow the two same cops as they again deal with a missing person – the circumstances are so different, foreboding colouring the search, the echoes of the past never far away,  the landscape still just as harsh, still unforgiving and hiding many secrets.

 

This is an intriguing read however the ending did not bring me any satisfaction; ending on a cliff hanger, so much action and tension in the last few chapters, I wanted more.  Perhaps there is a part two to come?

 

 

Book Bingo – Written by An Author I have Never Read – The Silent Patient: Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient

Alex Michaelides

Hachette Australia

Orion

ISBN: 9781409181620

 

Description:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

 

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

 

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

 

My View:

 

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways. Sigmund Freud”

― Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

 

This is an exceptional debut.

Alex Michaelides “ studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his  MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is his first novel.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17621440.Alex_Michaelides

 

Alex Michaelides writes a terrific psychological thriller that plays like a film in your head; visual, compelling, surprising. A narrative told in two voices – that of Alicia – whose thoughts and actions are explored via her diary (and art), before and after committing the crime that has her incarcerated in a secure unit, and the voice of her therapist.

 

I love the trope of the unreliable narrator – and in this book we are privileged to experience two such narrators! What a powerful tool this is in the hands of such a skilled story teller. And there is a magnificent twist that I didn’t see coming.

 

A great read.

 

 

 

 

Book Bingo- Themes of Justice- The Rip – Mark Brandi

The Rip

The Rip

Mark Brandi

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733641121

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

‘It’s funny how quick it happens and without you really noticing. Anton said once that it’s like walking out into the sea, and you think everything’s fine and the water’s warm, but when you turn back you’re suddenly miles from shore. I’ve never been much of a swimmer, but I get what he means. Like, being caught in a current or something. A rip.’

 

A young woman, living on the street has to keep her wits about her. Or her friends. But when the drugs kick in that can be hard.

 

Anton has been looking out for her. She was safe with him. But then Steve came along.

 

He had something over Anton. Must have. But he had a flat they could crash in. And gear in his pocket. And she can’t stop thinking about it. A good hit makes everything all right.

 

But the flat smells weird.

There’s a lock on Steve’s bedroom door.

And the guy is intense.

 

The problem is, sometimes you just don’t know you are in too deep, until you are drowning.

 

 

My View:

Mark Brandi has a special talent, a super power, he is able to insert poignant, authentic characters into his narratives that tell urban, contemporary stories that have great social impact.  Subtle yet powerful, what an amazing voice he and his characters have.

 

Bravo! Encore!

 

What’s next Mark? I can’t wait to find out.