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?

 

 

Review: Call Me Evie- J P Pomare

call me evie

Call Me Evie

J P Pomare

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733640230

RRP$ 29.99

 

Description:

 In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.

 

For the past two weeks, seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet has lived against her will in an isolated cabin in a remote beach town–brought there by a mysterious man named Bill. Part captor, part benefactor, Bill calls her Evie and tells her he’s hiding her to protect her. That she did something terrible one night back home in Melbourne–something so unspeakable that he had no choice but to take her away. The trouble is, Kate can’t remember the night in question.

 

The fragments of Kate’s shattered memories of her old life seem happy: good friends, a big house in the suburbs, a devoted boyfriend. Bill says he’ll help her fill in the blanks–but his story isn’t adding up. And as she tries to reconcile the girl she thought she’d been with the devastating consequences Bill claims she’s responsible for, Kate will unearth secrets about herself and those closest to her that could change everything.

 

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind, Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth, even from ourselves.

 

 

My View:

This must be the twistiest book I have ever read!

There is no way that I could have guessed any of the reveals, in fact I was totally caught by surprise each time the truth was exposed (and yes there are multiple twists, and no I am not telling)J.

 

If you are a lover of contemporary social issues, the unreliable narrator, and twists, twists and more twists then this book should definitely be on the top of your reading pile. Compulsive reading. What an amazing debut! I predict a film adaptation coming soon.

 

 

 

Review: The Sunday Girl – Pip Drysdale

The Sunday Girl

The Sunday Girl

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925685824

 

Description:

The Girl on the Train meets Before I Go to Sleep with a dash of Bridget Jones in this chilling tale of love gone horribly wrong …

 

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.

 

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge. Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle, he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again. So Taylor consulted The Art of War and made a plan. Then she took the next step – one that would change her life forever.

 

Then things get really out of control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

 

 

My View:

“You always know where your heart belongs when it gets to Sunday and there is only one person in the whole world you want to curl up with on the sofa.” P.59

 

This is a read in one sitting, forget what’s happening in the outside world as you urge the protagonist to safety. Secretly you smile as her plan begins to form – who hasn’t harboured a little grudge against an ex before? You empathise, you become a silent player in this game of cat and mouse. And then…

 

Well you will just have to read this yourself to find out.

 

 

Domestic noir at its pulse racing best!  This is my perfect read. More please!

Review: The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson

The Forbidden Place

The Forbidden Place

Susanne Jansson

Translated by Rachel Wilson-Broyles

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books

Hodder

ISBN: 9781473668553

RRP $ 29.99

 

Description:

In the North Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

 

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

 

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

 

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.

 

 

My View:

My very first impression of this book was created by the wonderful cover art; it succinctly conveys the almost Gothic like chilliness that pervades the landscape, there is an almost palpable sense of mystery, unease and intrigue. Fog, mist, swamp, peat bogs, isolation… the landscape is such a huge character in this book.

 

Moody with finely drawn characters, spiced with a little history, sadness and spooky folk tales, these are the elements that provide the skeleton for this chilling narrative to build on. A great read and a wonderful debut, I look forward to reading more books by this author.

 

PS This is brilliantly and appears effortlessly, translated.

 

 

Review: Scrublands – Chris Hammer

 

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Scrublands

Chris Hammer

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760632984

 

Description:

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.

 

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.

 

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.

 

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

 

A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page.

 

 

My View:

 “The house is yelling now, screaming in its extremity: screeching steel, exploding timber, roaring fire, drowning out the sound of the receding dragon. Martin is soaking inside his overalls but his face feels paper-dry. He looks at the others, their faces red as if sunburnt. He watches as the shutter on the other side of the window begins to smoke and burn, slowly, almost apologetically. Smoke is gushing under the corridor door. Martin begins to cough uncontrollably, his throat raw.” P. 104

 

Can you feel it? Can you see it? Can you smell it? Bush fire engulfing the house… Chris Hammer delivers a crime thriller like no other. The prose is divine, sometimes irreverent which adds a little dose of humour to the read. You will find yourself transported to small rural town Australia, a town fighting to survive, a town and its inhabitants facing pressures from all sides – Mother Nature is not kind, the extreme weather conditions affecting all, the economy is slowly suffocating resilience out of the town.  The misdeeds of the past and the present collide to bring out the best and the worst in people.

 

This is a spectacular whydunnit that asks the big questions re history and the information we assimilate daily. Whose account of history are we hearing? Who benefits from this dialogue?  Whose agenda is behind this? What /where is the gain? Whose truth are we listening to, influenced by?

 

A fabulous 5 star read – a new author to add to your “Must Read” list and one to add to my “Best of 2018” list. I can’t wait to see this on the big screen and to read what is coming next from this author.

 

 

 

Post Script: I, Witness – Niki Mackay

I Witness

I, Witness

Niki Mackay

Orion

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781409174592

 

Description:

They say I’m a murderer.

Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was found holding the body of her best friend; covered in blood, and clutching the knife that killed her.

I plead guilty.

Kate has been in prison ever since, but now her sentence is up. She is being released.

But the truth is, I didn’t do it.

There’s only one person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attalee, the first officer on the scene all those years ago.

 

But there’s someone out there who doesn’t want Kate digging up the past. Someone who is willing to keep the truth buried at any cost.

 

Robert Galbraith meets Susie Steiner in this gripping debut from Niki Mackay.

 

My View:

Gripping, choc full of twists and surprises, every time you think you have it worked out -think again-you don’t.

A flawed (read that as very flawed but good hearted, empathetic, dedicated… ) female Private Investigator ex- cop is a wonderful protagonist that quickly gains the readers respect and admiration. Madison Attalee drives the pace of this drama – fast, frantic and deadly.

There are so many twists, most totally unexpected. And just a little pricking of your social conscience  – enough said, read and let me know what you think.

 

What an amazing year on the crime fiction front – I have read so many exceptional reads, and have been surprised by how many, like this, are debut novels. Amazing! What talent!

 

I am looking forward to the next episode in Madison Attalee’s life.

 

Post Script: The Girl In Kellers Way – Megan Goldin

The Girl In Kellers Way

The Girl In Kellers Way

Megan Goldin

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143785446

 

Description:

When a body is found buried near the desolate forest road of Kellers Way, Detective Melanie Carter must identify the victim if she is to have any chance of finding the killer. That’s no easy task with fragmentary evidence from a crime committed years earlier and a conspiracy of silence from anyone who might have information.

 

The one person who may be able to help is Julie West. In a troubled marriage, Julie often jogs along Kellers Way to clear her mind and escape the confines of her suffocating suburban life. Until one day, something happens there that shakes Julie to the core, making her question everything she ever believed about her life, her marriage and even her sanity . . .

 

 

My View:

Most murders are committed by someone known to the victim. More often than not, it’s an immediate relative. A husband. Or a wife.” (back cover)

 

What a fantastic debut novel! I love domestic noir, and this is a great example of the genre.  As I read I solved the mysteries of this narrative in my head only to have nagging doubts bubble to the surface the more pages I turned.  I did not like the character – Matt – what a well written egocentric, calculating individual he is. Julie is not so likeable either – but her actions are understandable, though her neediness is cloying. Julie’s version of events is unreliable – a great plot device.   Who is the baddie here?

 

What character did I enjoy and want to see more of – Detective Melanie Carter.   I do hope this is the start of a series?  I do want to see more of this empathetic, diligent, intelligent woman in the future. This is a great read with a very uncomfortable ending – you will keep thinking about this book long after the last page has been turned.