Review: Their Little Secret – Mark Billingham

Their Little Secret

Tom Thorne #16

Mark Billingham

Little Brown

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780751566987

 

Description:

When DI Tom Thorne is called to conduct a routine assessment at the site of a suicide, he expects to be in and out in no time. But when he arrives at the metro station, where a woman named Philippa Goodwin threw herself in front of an underground train, Thorne inexplicably senses something awry and feels compelled to dig deeper. He soon discovers that she was the victim of a callous con-man whose deception plunged Philippa to her end. Enraged that one man’s trickery caused an innocent death, Thorne enlists DI Nicola Tanner to help him track down the swindler and bring him to justice. But the detective duo gets more than they bargained for when a young man’s lifeless, bludgeoned body turns up on the shore of a nearby seaside town: it appears that very con artist they’re searching for is connected to the murder. Brilliantly plotted with a shocking psychological bent, Their Little Secret is another masterful thriller from one of Britain’s most beloved crime writers. With twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the final page, this is Mark Billingham’s most chilling novel yet.

 

My View:

Brilliant!

 

If you love a good police procedural with empathetic protagonists, twists and more twists and crime that will shock with its audacity, then this book is for you!  So many secrets, so many lies…

 

I think what I loved most about this book (and there is a lot to love) is the reveal that I did not see coming, the secrets that are being kept on both sides of the law, the reference to Elvis Costello’s lyrics for “I Want You”:

I want you,

The truth can’t hurt you, it’s just like the dark,

It scares you witless,

But in time you see thing clear and stark.

I want you,

Go on and hurt me, then we’ll let it drop,

I want you,

I’m afraid I won’t know where to stop….

Perfect pairing for this read!

 

And then there is Jamie… (You will have to read to learn about Jamie) this character adds a real psychological punch to the narrative and almost has you feeling sorry for his mother, almost.

 

And the perpetrators – just like the crimes, not what you expect, surprise and after surprise.

 

And if you scan the code on the inside cover flap you can hear Mark Billingham reading chapter one of “Their Little secret” audio book.

 

So much to love!

 

 

Review: Allegra in Three Parts – Suzanne Daniel

Allegra in Three Parts

Suzanne Daniel

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760781712

RRP$29.99

 

Description:

From Suzanne Daniel comes an outstanding debut novel, capturing 1970s Australia with warmth, humour and a distinctive voice. I can split myself in two . . . something I have to do because of Joy and Matilde. They are my grandmothers and I love them both and they totally love me but they can’t stand each other. Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different. Matilde works all hours and instils discipline, duty and restraint. She insists that Allegra focus on her studies to become a doctor. Meanwhile free-spirited Joy is full of colour, possibility and emotion, storing all her tears in little glass bottles. She is riding the second wave of the women’s movement in the company of her penny tortoise, Simone de Beauvoir, encouraging Ally to explore broad horizons and live her ‘true essence’.

And then there’s Rick who lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing. He’s trying to be a good father to Al Pal, while grieving the woman who links them all but whose absence tears them apart. Allegra is left to orbit these three worlds wishing they loved her a little less and liked each other a lot more. Until one day the unspoken tragedy that’s created this division explodes within the person they all cherish most. Suzanne Daniel is a journalist and communications consultant who has also worked for ABC TV, the Sydney Morning Herald, the United Nations, BBC (London) and in crisis management and social services. For the past twenty years she has served on community, philanthropic and public company boards. Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband and family. Allegra in Three Parts is her first novel.

 

My View:

I am sitting here in my flares, a recent “op shop” purchase, I love flares, I am searching for the musical references mentioned in this novel; I love the music of the seventies.

At the time (the 70’s) I was too young to appreciate that I was growing up female in the middle of the Women’s movement, the liberation. The movement was happening around me and I largely benefited from the struggles of my peers. Helen Reddy’s powerhouse song “I am Woman” was the anthem we all sang. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rptW7zOPX2E

But I digress. I am meant to be reviewing Allegra in Three Parts – and in a     roundabout way I am.

Allegra in Three Parts has many story arcs – the Women’s Liberation movement being one of them; the setting up of women’s safe houses/refuges from family violence, the challenge of attaining equal pay and conditions, education for women, the harnessing of trade unions to improve work conditions…so much more is introduced to us by the characters of grandmothers Joy and Mathilde. Joy is at the forefront of the movement, with her Liberty Club. Mathilde clearly feels that education and a good job are the key to a woman’s success and independence and she is determined that Allegra will have those opportunities. They both want the best life possible for Allegra.

 

Suzanne Daniel also creates a space here to discuss the role of fathers in family and in particular as role models for their daughters when we are introduced to Rick – Allegra’s father. As the narrative progresses his influence on the family and Allegra increases – in a positive way.

 

The characters of Rick and the grandmothers are great devices to open up discussion surrounding grief, loss and resilience.

 

There are so many more social issues subtly probed in this novel – so gently are they introduced that you hardly are aware of the lessons being shared; on racism, multiculturalism, on being different, of bullying, of class and privilege…

 

More than issues this is a book about growth and healing, forgiveness, families and love and the importance of being loved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omrGB4HgjEg

 

“There’s no formula for happiness that’s guaranteed to work

It all depends on how you treat your friends and how much you’ve been hurt

But it’s a start, when you open up your heart

And try not to hide, what you’re feeling inside

Just open up your heart.”  (p249, ‘Open Up Your Heart’ G W Thomas)

 

I loved this book!

 

 

 

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.