Review: Big Sky – Kate Atkinson

Big Sky: A Jackson Brodie Novel

Kate Atkinson


Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780857526113



Jackson Brodie makes a highly anticipated return!

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an ageing Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back across the path of someone from his past. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.


My View:

Superbly plotted, complex in themes and design, mysterious and heart breaking, it was amazing to discover the intersection of characters’ lives, landscapes and crimes (committed against and by whom.)  Past and present worlds collide in a mystery where valour and doing the right thing are triumphant. Justice is well served, the law is not.


I love a character lead narrative in the crime fiction/literary crime read. The details wash the canvas in grey not emphatic black and white. Life is complex, messy, sometimes our perspective of the outside does not match the inside view, and sometimes there is hope and compassion where you least expect to find it. This contemporary read is perfect!


Enough said – go out and order/purchase this one now. You will not regret it.



Post Script: I am Death – Chris Carter

Violent and sadistic.

Cover I Am Death

I Am Death

Chris Carter

Simon & Schuster Australia

Simon & Schuster UK

ISBN: 9781471132247




AN EVIL MIND was Chris Carters’s most acclaimed novel to date, described by the Daily mail as: ‘A chilling, compulsive portrait of a psychopath, and proves that Carter is now in the Jeffrey Deaver class.’ It spent three weeks in the Sunday Times top ten and received brillant reviews and sales.


This terrifying new standalone thriller reunites Hunter and Garcia in their most explosive case to date.



My View:

There has been much fanfare surrounding the books written by this author and so I thought I had better check this one out (this book is part of the Hunter and Garcia series but is touted as a standalone read). With a bit of trepidation I started reading (I had heard/read that this author’s work is extremely violent), rumour was not wrong! I have read Pierre LaMaitre’s Camille Verhœven series and thought the violence here, was, at times extreme – however the characters were likable, the writing superb and I was able to empathise with the Commandant – his personal pain and grief and empathy for the victims of the crimes.


This was not my experience with I am Death. I found Hunter and Garcia bland and one dimensional, I did not connect at all with the protagonists and didn’t feel that these two cops had much of a personal connection either; the attempt at humour in the first few chapters did not work for Hunter and likewise did not work me either; as a device it failed to show any real rapport between the two cops. The humour feel flat and felt stilted and staged – the opposite of the affect the writer was intending. As I continued on I really did not warm to any of the characters; we knew very little about the victims, mostly superficial information and although their deaths by torture were vile, they did not affect me as they should have; once they were in the hands of the villain we heard little more from them except the details of their horrific wounds and violent deaths. A part of me is pleased that no more details were forth coming, details were “told “ not “shown” their death had little impact on me, their lives as their deaths, had little impact on me and Hunter and Garcia remained as they first appeared; bland and did not connect with me as a reader at all. I think you do need to read the earlier books in the series to connect and invest yourself in the books, to perhaps grow to like Hunter and Garcia, to get to know them and share their experiences, feel some empathy…


But my main concern with this book was the level of what I experienced as gratuitous violence – fodder for the violence seeking voyeur. The details were beyond grim and sadistic – without giving away too much detail – murder by an electric disc sander (with a deliberate choice of “low grade” disc – so that more than one disc was needed and therefore the pain dragged out, the torture excruciating, before death was realised), grinding off the victims face was extreme and just one example of the horror that lies within.


Lastly I felt that the author did not “show” me the narrative, he spent too much time “telling” me the book. ‘While “telling” can be useful, even necessary, most people don’t realize how vital “showing” is to an effective story…. Showing allows the reader to follow the author into the moment, to see and feel and experience what the author has experienced. Using the proper balance of showing and telling will make your writing more interesting and effective.’ I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment, the imbalance in style here left me with a “disconnect” that I could not shift. And I realised who the murderer actually was, not his alias, but his real identity.


Sadly, this not a book or author for me but maybe for you.

Post Script: Life or Death – Michael Robotham

Outstanding, seductive and intriguing!

Life or Death

Michael Robotham

Hachette Australia


ISBN: 9780751552898


The chilling new psychological thriller from one of the most brilliant crime authors of today.

Why would a man escape from prison the day before he’s due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by fellow inmates and prison guards, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he’s due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he’s not running. Instead he’s trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.



My View:

Michael Robotham hits another home run! This narrative is so brilliant it shines like a beacon calling you to read, except… I couldn’t; I was seduced by the story and the character of Audie Plamer and I could not bear to read that yet another disaster had knocked him down to his knees. Instead of reading in one night as I would normally do for such an intriguing narrative, I had to force myself to keep reading, I was so entrenched in Audie’s world and the belief in his innocence and seduced by this character’s serene voice that each time corruption and conspiracy of the highest levels attacked him and I could not see a way out, I feared for Audie and I had to stop reading. I couldn’t see a positive conclusion, just more hurt. It took me days to read…I didn’t want it to end.


This is a brilliant narrative, with meaningful dialogue, characterisations and settings that are authentic and a plot that twists and turns with conspiracies a plenty (and did I mention a beautiful love story?) Robotham writes masterfully and seductively. His passion for his craft is obvious in the execution of his work – intriguing, enchanting and fast paced and action packed, his words never tired or dreary or forced. Another brilliant standalone from the master of the psychological thriller.


Post Script: The Butcher – Jennifer Hillier

The Butcher

Jennifer Hillier

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

Gallery Books

ISBN: 9781476734217



From the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Creep and Freak and whom Jeffery Deaver has praised as a “top of the line thriller writer,” The Butcher is a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.


A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.


Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.


Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.


A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.


My View:

A love hate relationship with this book:

I have been ruminating over my opinion about this novel for several days and I am still unsure how I feel about this narrative; I loved the premise, I enjoyed some of the characters – I think that the character of The Butcher was a true and vile picture of evilness and horror, (I thought the reveal re the wife’s death early in the piece was dynamic and so unexpected) this character was so well done, yet some of the other characters I thought were a little stereotyped and flat.


There were elements the narrative that was compelling and then a lot that wasn’t. And the biggest let down was I guessed (no reveals here) about Lucy and the final reveal involving Matt and that was disappointing; I like to be surprised and unaware of such things until the very end of a story.  Maybe I had too high an expectation of this novel, consequently I have mixed feelings, and maybe the best way to sum this up the writing is inconsistent with a brilliant characterisation of evilness.


Post Script: Cop Town – Karin Slaughter

Cop Town

Cop Town

Karin Slaughter


Random House

ISBN: 9781780890012



Karin Slaughter, author of the New York Times bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.


Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.


Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.


Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.



My View:

How can I do justice to this work of the crime writing super star that is Karin Slaughter? Once again Ms Slaughter has provided the reader with an entrée, main course and dessert in the one sitting – if you have not eaten your fill of cordon blue crime fiction at the end of this novel I suggest you…are jesting.


This is another brilliantly written, evocative, deeply moving and exceptional read from the master of crime fiction – she is so good at her craft she makes writing and reading this seem easy. Well-developed empathetic protagonists and, bad guys – there are many – which you simply abhor. Slaughter captures the flavour of the 70’s and reduces it down to a piquant stock that flavours the entire narrative. The 70’s are a transforming time – not just in Atlanta but all over the world and Slaughter captures it so well.

This is a brilliant standalone novel or perhaps the start of another series? I could easily read more of the Lawson’s story or Kate’s story. Devote an evening to Ms Slaughter’s fare – you will not be sorry.















Post Script: A Dark And Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton

A Dark and Twisted Tide

Lacey Flint Series, Book 4

Sharon Bolton

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593069189



Something’s in the water… The twisty, chilling new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Like This, For Ever.


Former detective Lacey Flint quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thought.


Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone.


When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?


Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely.


Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick . . .



*Sharon Bolton (previously S. J. Bolton) is the author of six critically acclaimed novels: this is her seventh novel and features the popular DC Lacey Flint and DI Mark Joesbury.


She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Dagger in the Library.


Sharon lives near Oxford with her husband and young son. For more information about her and her books, or to check out her addictive blog, visit


You can also join her on Facebook at


My View:

I am very pleased to have made the acquaintance of Lacey Flint and Sharon Bolton; this crime fiction novel is very well executed with a mix of myth, suspense, contemporary issues and of course some disturbing crimes. I have a vivid picture in my head of sheer type fabric swirling loosely, fluidly, poetically, in murky water, beckoning me whenever I think of this book…I cannot get that image out of my head! Bolton excels at setting the scene and providing an abundance of realistic and engaging characters.


I really enjoyed getting to know Lacey Flint and wish I had read the earlier book in this series – though the not having read them did not stop my enjoyment of this narrative, I just want to know the main characters better and follow them on their journeys. I look forward to reading more by this author in the near future.


Post Script: Eeny Meeny – M J Arlidge

A pulse racing read!

Eeny Meeny

Eeny Meeny

At first, nobody believed her…

M.J. Arlidge

Penguin Books Australia


ISBN: 9781405914888




The girl emerged from the woods.  Traumatised and emaciated; close to death, but alive.  Her story seemed too terrible to be true.  But it was.  Every dreadful word of it.

When, days later, another desperate survivor is found, a pattern becomes clear.  Pairs of victims are being taken; then forced to make an unthinkable decision.

And for DCI Helen Grace there is now an unseen killer to be hunted down.

Haunted by her own past, Grace has faced down her own demons to rise to the top of her profession.  She has coping mechanisms.  Now though, there’s a new monster to confront.  And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die.

But worse, some will survive, and have to live with the choice that they made . . .


My View:

I really enjoyed this fast paced, action packed, murder filled police procedural. The narrative is twisted, bizarre and compelling. The subplot is horrific and disturbing. The protagonist is a strong, feisty and a flawed woman; a mystery to all those around her. Interesting characters, a unique plot, bold and disturbing crimes, what more could you ask for?

This is a book that once you start you CANNOT put down.  I can see this on the big screen soon.

Post Script: Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart – Christopher Fowler

Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart

Christopher Fowler

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers


ISBN: 9780857522030



It’s a fresh start for the Met’s oddest investigation team, the Peculiar Crimes Unit.


Their first case involves two teenagers who see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park. And if that’s not alarming enough, one of them is killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the moments between when he was last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed his shirt…


Much to his frustration, Arthur Bryant is not allowed to investigate. Instead, he has been tasked with finding out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. All seven birds have vanished from one of the most secure fortresses in the city. And, as the legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls…


Soon it seems death is all around and Bryant and May must confront a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, explore an eerie funeral parlour and unearth the gruesome legend of Bleeding Heart Yard. More graves are desecrated, further deaths occur, and the symbol of the Bleeding Heart seems to turn up everywhere – it’s even discovered hidden in the PCU’s offices. And when Bryant is blindfolded and taken to the headquarters of a secret society, he realises that this case is more complex than even he had imagined, and that everyone is hiding something. The Grim Reaper walks abroad and seems to be stalking him, playing on his fears of premature burial.


Rich in strange characters and steeped in London’s true history, this is Bryant & May’s most peculiar and disturbing case of all.



My View:

Considering that this is the 11th book in the series I had no problem at all in picking up this novel and quickly becoming involved and engaged with the characters and the narrative; and this read was fun! As Fowler says on his website;

“I’m certainly no fan of kitchen sink drama I like stories that soar into strangeness rather than ones that faithfully replicate the ordinariness of life,” and this novel certainly dips into the ‘strangeness’ jar coating the characters in quirky,  spreading ‘unusual’

across a swathe of bizarre crimes (disinterred bodies, a death by sewage, ghostly happenings, evil mad  magical conspirators, missing birds…the list goes on.


I read somewhere (sorry the source has escaped me) that Fowler continues to add to this series because writing it is fun – and the reader gets a real sense of this in the narrative; the whimsy, the oddball, the eccentric…the quirky, all mixed with a good dose of social commentary and of course crimes as they progress through this novel.

This is good solid enjoyable crime read somewhat reminiscent of  the style of the Golden Age of Crime – at the least, the protagonists are of that golden age  🙂


Post Script: The Burning – Jane Casey

The Burning

Jane Casey

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250006608



In this first in Casey’s thrilling, romantic mystery series for adults, meet Detective Constables Maeve Kerrigan and Rob Langton


The Burning Man. It’s the name the media has given a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London’s parks. And now there’s a fifth.


Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve’s empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice. But how do you catch a killer no one has seen when so much of the evidence has gone up in smoke?


Maeve’s frenetic hunt for a killer in Jane Casey’s gripping series debut will entrance even the most jaded suspense readers.


My View:

A first rate police procedural with a strong female cast- loved it!


This is the first book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and is a great introduction to the very likable main characters, the location and the fluent effortless writing style that is Jane Casey. I loved that the characters were fully developed; we get viewpoints from Maeve, Louise and Rob, and Casey uses the ploy of researching/interviewing associates from an earlier crime to further provide more background on our victim, suspects and on Kerrigan herself.


I like strong character based police procedurals.   I like the feeling of knowing our protagonist, of hearing her thoughts, her reasoning and following her actions. Kerrigan is just an average cop – with a determination to do her job well. I like the subplot of a new romance in Kerrigan’s life, again it adds to her “normalness” without cluttering the main storyline or tuning this into a cosy crime.


Without giving too much away – I liked the strong calculating, manipulative villain; a great character!


This was a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to reading more by this author.