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Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care.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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Review: The French Photographer – Natasha Lester

The French Photographer

Natasha Lester

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733640025

 

Description:

Inspired by the incredible true story of Lee Miller, Vogue model turned one of the first female war photojournalists, the new novel by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress

Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.

France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer — and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.

Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Jessica May’s modelling career stalled when she headed for Europe as a photojournalist in 1942. She was only allowed to the hospital camps – women couldn’t go near the front line – and while the male journalists had their own areas to send copy from, Jess and her friend Martha Gellhorn had to do the best they could. It would be the meeting by Jess of Dan Hallworth, paratrooper in charge of many men and well respected by those same men, that would change Jess’ ability within those pages of war, and the stories and pictures that would make a difference.

When Jess first met Victorine, a sweet little girl who was being cared for at one of the field hospitals, she soon grew to love her. The daily horrors and cruelty that surrounded them all were eased just slightly as she held Victorine in her arms. Other women photojournalists joined Jess and Martha, among them Lee Miller – their work essential, and what the censors didn’t cut out, made it to publication.

When Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrived at the chateau in France in 2005 to collate the photographs of an unknown photographer, she had no idea the shattering changes which were about to overtake her life. Her disbelief when she saw a photo of her own mother in among the relics of the past had her doubting everything she’d known of her life. D’Arcy couldn’t understand the connection of her mother to this long ago past – and she wasn’t sure if she was brave enough to pursue it either…

The French Photographer is the latest by Aussie author Natasha Lester and it’s absolutely heartbreakingly brilliant! I can’t believe this author can continue to improve her books, time and again – but this one, in my opinion, is her best yet! Based on fact, the descriptions of the war years, the different characters which grew on me – Jennings was a sweetheart; Victorine a delight – and the others who were despicable but so well drawn. But the three main characters – Jess, Dan and Victorine – were so very special. The French Photographer is a wonderful historical fiction novel by an author who is right on top of her game – and I highly recommend it. 5 stars

With thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Without A Doubt – Fleur McDonald

Without A Doubt

Without a Doubt

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760633158

 

Description:

‘The entrance to Nundrew was like any country town Dave had ever been to. He revved the engine of the bike and upped his speed. That should get the attention of a few people as he flew down the main street.’

Detective Dave Burrows had never even heard of Nundrew in Queensland before. He’d certainly never have guessed that this was where he’d be risking his life.

In Barrabine, as Dave’s workload skyrockets, Melinda, Dave’s wife, is unhappy about being left alone so much to raise their eighteen-month-old daughter. It’s not how Dave wants it either, but crimes still have to be investigated – it’s what he joined the force for – and he’s the only one able to do it.

Melinda’s interfering father isn’t helping. He’s never thought that Dave is right for his daughter and he’s not shy about telling Dave what he’s doing wrong. When things come to a head at home, Dave’s policing mate, Spencer, comes up with a plan.

In the most dangerous mission of his life, Dave knows what he’s risking. If he’s found out, he’ll never see Melinda or Bec again. Of that he’s sure.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Detective Dave Burrows was settled into his life in Barrabine in Western Australia with his offsider Spencer having shown him the ropes. He loved the rural lifestyle, helping the locals and keeping law and order. The trouble was, his young wife was unhappy. Melinda hadn’t long had their daughter Bec, and although she was now eighteen months old, Melinda continued to be unsettled and restless about her life. Making it worse was the fact that her family lived in Perth and her father continued to put Dave down, insisting Melinda return to Perth with Bec to live with them. She was torn.

The day Spencer devised a way for Dave to get into the harsh realities of police work – even though it meant a move to Queensland – Dave knew it was the answer; temporarily at least. What he didn’t know was the very real danger he would put himself in. Nundrew was a small rural town in the Queensland outback. The force there was having some trouble – Dave was their answer. But could he find the trouble makers? Or would it be the last – and most dangerous – case he ever worked on?

Without a Doubt is another fabulous romantic suspense – high on the suspense – novel by Aussie author Fleur McDonald. I really enjoy Dave’s character; he’s a normal, down to earth guy, strong, tough and caring. He’s not shy in showing his love for his wife and little daughter, and prepared to do what it takes to fix his family problem. I hope the author doesn’t stop writing Detective Dave Burrows’ story any time soon! Highly recommended. 5 stars.

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

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.

 

Book Bingo – Book Set In An Exotic Location: Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox

Gone by Midnight

Gone by Midnight

Crimson Lake #3

Candice Fox

Penguin Books

Bantam Australia

ISBN: 9780143789154

Description:

Ex-cop Ted Conkaffey is slowing rebuilding his life in Crimson Lake, and getting to know his three-year-old daughter, Lillian. But when he and his PI partner Amanda take on the case of a boy who seems to have literally disappeared into thin air, his job once again threatens everything . . .

 

Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .

 

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.

 

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.

 

For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

 

Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril . . .

 

 

My View:

An outstanding work of crime fiction/mystery!

 

This is an excellent read, this series just gets better and better. I think this has to be my favourite Candice Fox read thus far. Candice has provided the reader with exciting plot lines, some great empathetic characters, wonderful eerie settings (crocodiles and swamps are a spine chilling combination), some great twists and turns and a conclusion that is spiked with hope.

 

I love this series! More please.

 

 

 

Book Bingo: Written By An Australian Woman – Painting in the Shadows – Katherine Kovacic

Painting in the Shadows

Painting the Shadows

Katherine Kovacic

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760685775

 

Description:

Deadly paintings, mysterious colours and hidden works…

*

Art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter are thrilled to be previewing the Melbourne International Museum of Art’s (MIMA) newest exhibition, until they witness a museum worker collapse and badly damage a reportedly cursed painting.

 

Belief in the curse is strengthened when MIMA’s senior conservator Meredith Buchanan dies less than twenty-four hours later while repairing the work. But Alex and John are convinced there is a decidedly human element at work in the museum.

 

The evidence sets them on the trail of a mysterious painting that could hold a key to Meredith’s death, and the stakes are raised higher when Alex is offered her dream job at MIMA. Damaging the museum’s reputation will jeopardise her professional future.

 

The friends soon realise they are facing an adversary far more ruthless than they had anticipated, and there is much more at risk than Alex’s career.

 

 

My View:

Painting The Shadows in a book that provides the reader with an interesting glimpse into the world of art, galleries and art conservation. This view is fascinating and even prompted me to do some internet research on some of the artists that are mentioned in the narrative.

 

This is book 2 in the Alex Clayton Art Mystery series and for me this had quite a different emphasis than the first book (drama, mystery); this read provided more character development and backstories interwoven into a cozy type mystery. A perfect read for the plane or train.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Hunter – Timothy Blake #2 – Jack Heath

Hunter

Hunter

Timothy Blake #2

Jack Heath

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760527082

 

Description:

Timothy Blake, ex-consultant for the FBI, now works in body-disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn’t supposed to find and is forced to hide it. When the FBI calls Blake in to investigate a missing university professor, Blake recognises him as the dead man in his freezer.

 

Then another man goes missing. And another.

 

There’s a serial killer in Houston, Texas, and Blake is running out of time to solve the case. His investigation takes him to a sex doll factory, a sprawling landfill in Louisiana and a secret cabin in the woods.

 

As they hunt the killer together, FBI agent Reese Thistle starts to warm to Blake – but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his terrible secret.

 

Can Blake uncover the killer, without being exposed himself?

 

A confounding, intriguing and wildly suspenseful thriller from the bestselling and acclaimed author of Hangman.

 

 

My View:

Book 2 in the Timothy Blake series is much more palatable J 

 

This narrative showcases the author’s ability to engage and entertain with witty dark humour, mysteries that intrigue, with the anti hero  now showing signs of empathy and thoughtfulness…and love… with occasional break outs of gruesome gore.

 

I like how Jack Heath has turned the whole woman rescued by prince charming thing on its head.  Reese Thistle is the emotional rescuer here.  Reese Thistle is the smart, proactive, impulsive and fast acting hero in this piece.

 

I think Heath’s feminist side is exposed in this episode and I like it. Gangsters can be women, women can be cruel, capable of abhorrent dead’s but also ultimately, resourceful, determining their own destiny (no matter how warped that may or may not be eg Hope, Sindy).  There was only disappointment for me in this aspect of the narrative (no spoilers) was a character who is the victim of abuse who conspiratorially defends the abuser, this, however, is not so much a fault of the writer it is more a reflection of a behaviour often encountered in this type of abusive situation.

 

Looking forward to book 3 in the series.