Post Script: A Morbid Habit – Annie Hauxwell

A Morbid Habit

A Catherine Berlin Novel

Annie Hauxwell

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143799665

 

Description:

Christmas is looming, and investigator Catherine Berlin is out of a job. Broke, and with a drug habit that’s only just under control, she quickly agrees when an old friend offers her work. It’s a simple investigation with a generous fee, looking into the dealings of a small-time entrepreneur. The only catch? It’s in Russia.

 

But when Berlin arrives in Moscow, things are not so straightforward. Shadowy figures stalk her through the frozen streets. She’s kicked out of her hotel, her all-important medication confiscated by police. Strung out and alone, Berlin turns to her interpreter, an eccentric Brit named Charlie. But Charlie’s past is as murky as Berlin’s own, and when the subject of the investigation disappears, Berlin realises Charlie may be part of the web. The only way out is to hunt down the truth, even if it kills her.

 

 

My View:

Morbid Habit is a contemporary mystery/crime novel that is liberally laced with scenarios that could feasibly occur in today’s political and social climate. Deception, political manoeuvring, phone hacking, elements of “big brother” and the very popular “legally correct” process of being seen to be acting with “due diligence” (forgive my cynicism, it has been earned over time), these aspects are cleverly woven into this novel, all exist in the landscape of the modern world that we live in today; Hauxwell has established a setting that is both real and possible and this potential adds an extra layer of tension to the narrative.

 

And settings are what this book revels in! The cold, the sense of isolation and hopelessness is finely drawn. The bleakness, the greyness of London and Russia is demonstrated with fine brush strokes. The tough existence for those on/below the poverty line is painful to read, the solidarity expressed by those in similar circumstances is uplifting, Hauxwell writes as if she has experienced these worlds.

 

The plot is complicated and interesting – you are never really sure who side anyone is on or what the truth is. The truth is… unpalatable.

 

Hauxwell’s characters are tough, corrupt, flawed. The protagonist however is strong, principled and carries the scars of many battles. Her life has not been easy, I hope there is some reprieve for her down the track.

Post Script: Lost & Found – Brooke Davis

Tantalisingly honest and thought provoking. The voice of Just Millie is enchanting and engaging and will break and then mend your heart. 

Lost & Found

Brooke Davis

Hachette Australia

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632754

Description:

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house – or spoken to another human being – since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.

A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life.

 

My View:

What an incredible debut novel – this narrative is sad, sweet, funny, enchanting, engaging and tackles life’s big questions without fear, with honesty and store mannequin called Manny! The main characters in this story share so much about what makes them human – warts, strengths, wrinkles and all. In this book we discover that old age is not the same as death… that we are all going to die one day…why don’t we talk openly and honestly about the future, about life and death and how we cope with loss– these experiences are inevitable and will affect those around us and ourselves of course, one day…and yet these events/experiences are so much a mystery, a taboo, we could all do with a little Just Millie aka Captain Funeral inside us prompting us to ask the awkward or uncomfortable, seeking honesty not platitudes.

 

I loved this narrative. I loved the main characters; gum booted Just Millie, Agatha Pantha and Karl the Typist, such fun and outrageous personalities, I loved reading their coming of age stories.  The voice of Just Millie charmed and engaged me and made me shed a tear. This author writes with such wonderful insights, this is a charm to read.

 

 

 

Post Script: Billabong Bend – Jennifer Scoullar

Jennifer, If I was an artist I would be able to paint landscapes based on your words they are so visual!

 Billabong Bend

Jennifer Scoullar

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781921901935

 

 

Description:

For Nina Moore, the rare marshland flanking the beautiful Bunyip River is the most precious place on earth. Her dream is to buy Billabong Bend and protect it forever, but she’s not the only one with designs on the land. When her childhood sweetheart Ric returns home, old feelings are rekindled, and Nina dares to dream of a future for both of them on the river. But a tragic death divides loyalties and threatens to tear apart their fledgling romance.

 

This star-crossed rural romance sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course, amid the beauty of northern NSW.

 

My View:

 This is the first book I have read that is written by Jennifer Scoullar and I can understand why her books are so popular; Jennifer’s love of the Australian bush and wildlife is obvious, her passion for conservation is contagious and her narrative flows easily and with characters that are empathetic and likeable.

 

I was intrigued by the voice of Freeman and his stories of the river – told so beautifully and meaningfully, I could listen to more.  I learned more about Australian flora and fauna then I did in high school biology and absorbed it so much more easily than sitting in a classroom. Jennifer Scoullar has found a wonderful way to share her passions with the wider community in such an absorbing story that holds life lessons for all to learn.  A relaxed and easy read, poetic and visual – beautifully written, the landscape vivid and alive.

 

This star-crossed rural romance sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course, amid the beauty of northern NSW.