Caravaning Company

Travel = husband, dog, 5th wheeler caravan, beautiful scenery,  wild dolphins and books:)

Augusta-2017 Garry & Bob

Bob the Dog enjoying the sites and smells of holidays.

Dolphins

Dolphins playing in the river – you had to be there to appreciate it 🙂

The Animators

The Animators – Five star reading

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – a fabulous read.

The Unfortunate Victim

The Unfortunate Victim – a great Australian historical crime fiction read.

What more could you want?

 

Top Five Crime Fiction Reads for July 2015

I have written a guest post on Kees2Review – Top Five Crime Fiction Reads for July – check it out

Kees2Review

A warm welcome to reviewer, Carol from Reading, Writing and Riesling! Carol will be popping in from time to time to present her top five picks for the month.

This month has seen a plethora of fantastic crime fiction releases find their way to my bookshelves. Here is a selection of 5 star reads I hope you will find as enthralling as I did ~ Carol

In no particular order:

View original post

Post Script: The Bones of You – Debbie Howells

 The perfect example of domestic noir.

Description:
I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.
Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.

 

My View:
The perfect example of domestic noir.

After I finished reading this book I sat back and went WOW and then went to bed exhausted, it was after all past 1.30am but I could not put this down till I had read every single last word. I devoured this book. I savoured the words. This intimate portrait of manipulation and domestic violence – physical, emotional and psychological, is intense and accurate and is handled superbly and gently – which I think is a very effective way to treat the power imbalances here (I have worked in women’s refugees in a past life and know of how destructive these kinds of control/behaviours are and how realistic these examples are). In this novel we mostly we learn of these “truths” after the events, some almost a lifetime after…the voice from the grave is very effective; haunting, poignant, powerful.

I loved hearing Rosie’s voice, her memories. Her observations are powerful, painful and mostly joyless and so so sad, never have flash backs worked so evocatively. The anecdote regarding a pink TV is just heart breaking. (No spoilers here.)

Rosie’s story begins like this “It’s true, what they say about when you die. In the final, terrible seconds of my life, eighteen years flash before my eyes.” Yet this is not a dreary, weepy melodrama, the truths delivered via Rosie’s voice from the grave are relayed matter-of-factly, merely observations of a past life, made without judgement, what a great device. As Rosie recounts her life story the author allows the reader to make their own judgements and as I sat reading I clenched my teeth with rage at the harshness and injustices here and for all victims of family violence.

The theme that leapt out from the pages to me was about the power of truth. Truth can hurt, can see you free, truth can be harsh and hard to accept, and even harder to identify. Howells comments “…we can use all out skills, our experience, observe body language, read between as many lines as we choose, but we see mostly what we want to see. And if someone wants to hide the truth we may never know.” All we have is our own interpretation and understanding of the world and people. Intuition is something that should not be discarded.

This is a tightly plotted, very well executed, multiple viewpoint narrative that explores some very dark topics that are handled with a sensitivity that doesn’t beat the reader into a particular position – rather it allows the reader to form their own views and make their own guesses as to who is responsible for causing so much sorrow and pain in this narrative. As I delved deeper into the novel I made several unsuccessful guesses and only in the last few chapters did I understand who had murdered Rosie and their motives. This is an excellent example domestic noir.

Domestic Noir- Is It For You?

Domestic Noir banner Hachette Aus

Are you a fan of domestic noir? I am – most definitely, so much so I will be setting up a separate page to list and identify novels that I have read that fit into this genre. Stay tuned.

Will you like this sub genre ? I think you will or already are – there have been some great examples of this sub genre making headlines lately; Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Under Your Skin, The Bones of You (review scheduled, this one is fantastic!) …  to name a few. Well the lovely people at Hachette Australia recently circulated this very relevant explanation and have given me permission to  post it here:

“What is domestic noir, I hear you ask, and why would I want to read it?

Well, if you’ve read Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, Under your Skin, What Lies Within or The Girl on the Train, you’ve already dipped your toe in to the thrilling, murky pool of what we here at Hachette Australia have dubbed Domestic Noir. It’s always gripping, sometimes gritty, with scenery that could be your home and scenarios you hope you never find yourself in.

We asked Gone Girl publisher Kirsty Dunsheath why we’re so fascinated by this nail-biting genre: ‘I think we’ve long known that some of the most dramatic situations can be domestic – what takes place at home, behind closed doors. Within the intimacy of family life, of partnerships, we share our innermost thoughts and feelings, we lay ourselves bare and in doing so, we also reveal our weakest points. It is a truism that those we love the most have the greatest power to hurt us, because they know exactly what makes us angry, or disappointed, or frustrated, also what drives us and makes us feel content or fulfilled.’

Kirsty goes on to say that ‘It is that dynamic, where passions are the strongest and most keenly felt, that provides such rich territory for writers. What if we explore all those simmering tensions and take them to extremes?  What if, after several years of being together, we were to wake up one day and no longer recognise the person lying next to us?… I think readers identify with this, they are aware of the way couples can manipulate each other, the little power plays – often unintentional and without malice – within a close relationship. It is simply that we know what makes each other tick.’ ”

 

What novels have you read and loved that fall into this category? I am starting a wish list.

Post Script: Where They Found Her – Kimberly McCreight

It’s not you, it’s me 🙂

Where they Found Her

Where They Found Her

Kimberly McCreight

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471111327

 

Description:

An idyllic suburban town. A devastating discovery. Shocking revelations that will change three lives forever.

At the end of a long winter in well-to-do Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of a newborn is found in the woods fringing the campus of the town’s prestigious university. No one knows the identity of the baby, what ended her very short life, or how she wound up among the fallen leaves. But among the residents of Ridgedale, there is no shortage of opinions.

When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the disturbing news for the Ridgedale Reader—the town’s local paper—she has good reason to hesitate. A severe depression followed the loss of her own baby, and this assignment could unearth memories she has tried so hard to bury. But the history Molly uncovers is not her own. Her investigation unravels a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind Ridgedale’s white picket fences.

Told from the perspectives of three Ridgedale women, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth behind the tragedy, revealing that these women have far more in common than they could have ever known. That the very worst crimes are committed against those we love. And that—sooner or later—the past catches up to all of us.

 

My View: 

For me this book was a very slow burn, a lot of time is devoted to setting up the scene of Molly’s despair and depression, a little too much time I thought. Then when more elements were added to the narrative I found the multiple point of views and time frames a little confusing – in fact at one point I could not get my head around why a woman, a mother of a teenager was hanging around a high school (I imagined a course for adults to complete their basic education?) but why did she have crush on a teenage boy – further into the story and the blinkers were mercifully pulled away from my eyes – I realised the mother/high school/teenage boy crush plot line were all reflections of the woman’s past…finally it all made sense and from that point on I was riveted.

 

Suddenly the action was flowing, the drama increased and I started to feel empathy for a couple of the main characters. There is a phrase that is repeated in the narrative – a conversation between Molly and her husband that I feel is very powerful and accurate and provides some shining optimism; “Not everything about where your headed Molly, has to be about where you have been.” (p.76). This line of conversation illuminates the potential of change, of growth, speaks to the possibilities life offers and gives hope and is relevant to so many of the characters in this book.

 

This is a book that tackles so many issues that have occurred in the main protagonists past – depression, still birth, dysfunctional families, sexual abuse, drug use, bullying, sexual harassment… it is good to see some of the characters take steps to a more positive future as the mysteries in this novel are resolved.

 

After I finished reading this book and thought about writing my review I felt very conflicted – the prologue is intriguing and heart wrenching but maybe off putting to some readers, (no spoilers here), however the next considerable part of the book slows down and at times the multiple point of views and time jumps were confusing, then transmission becomes clear and I became immersed in the story – what a dilemma, how do I review and rate this book? …. I peaked at what a few other readers have said and discovered mostly I was in the minority – most people loved this book. So Kimberley McCreight – it’s not you, it must be me J I really wish I had liked this more.

 

 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.

 

 

Post Script: If She Did It aka Lacy Eye – Jessica Treadway

If She Did It

 

If She Did It aka Lacy Eye

Jessica Treadway

Sphere

Little, Brown

Hachette

ISBN: 9780751555240

 

Description:

What if you began to suspect your child of an unspeakable crime?

 

When Dawn introduces her family to her new boyfriend, Rud, they hide their unsettled feelings because they’re glad that Dawn, always an awkward child, seems to have finally blossomed.

 

Then Dawn’s parents are savagely beaten in their own bed, and though Hanna survives, Rud stands trial for Joe’s murder. Claiming her boyfriend’s innocence, Dawn initially estranges herself from everyone she knows, but when Rud wins an appeal, Dawn returns home saying she wants to support her mother.

 

Hanna knows that if she could only remember the details of that traumatic night, she could ensure her husband’s murderer remains in jail. But Hanna hadn’t realised that those memories may cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter…

 

My View:

A great premise and hook– did she (in this case the daughter) or didn’t she, if she did what does that say about my life? The title sets the tone of foreboding, as you read, in your mind you are already starting to question the narrators ( mother/Hanna’s) perception of the brutal events that happened three years earlier, events her mind has protected her from remembering. As you read further and Hanna starts to question her vague memories, you say to Hanna, “Listen to your instincts” but you are also complicit in your willingness to believe that in this loving relationship – and Hanna really loves her family, Dawn must be innocent, that there must be an explanation for the incidents that are starting to seem a little strange or do not quite add up. Eventually the reader is provided with enough evidence to challenge the narrators view but the story does not end there…now we want to know why. And the tension increases as we realise the imminent danger that Hanna is in.

 

The beauty of this read is how the tension just keeps ratcheting up. The characters stand out- for their ordinariness and perhaps, for their oddness too – for their beliefs that stifle, control and place pressure on the individuals of the family. But the family is not made up of brutes or monsters – the parents are loving and want the best for their children (don’t we all?), they are not abusive to each other or to their children but they are rigid in their beliefs . The children…almost ordinary but with hints that something is not quite right with Dawn. It is the hints that keep you turning the pages…

 

In all a great evocative and page tuning read with a very satisfying ending.

 

PS this book has also been released as Lacy Eye – a title that I could not understand the meaning of until I read the book – Lacy Eye- this family’s euphemism for hearing what you want to hear….

Post Script: The Crooked House – Christobel Kent

I can see this psychological drama unfolding on the big screen!

The Crooked House

The Crooked House

Christobel Kent

Sphere

Little,Brown

Hachette UK

ISBN: 9780751556971

 

Description:

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She’s a nobody; she has no-one and that’s how she wants it.

 

But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.

 

Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realise that if she’s to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since.

 

My View:

This is a great read – atmospheric, moody, and loaded with tension and anticipation of events to come or to be revealed. The setting is perfect – isolated, remote, rural…a village where life is suffocating and the locals take care things their way –they are judge and jury and don’t take very well to “outsiders “ or police. You can almost hear the Duelling Banjo theme being played in the background – very creepy.

 

In this narrative you are never quite sure what is truth, what is fiction. The conclusion will astound you, you will not have expected this twist. This read is perfectly sinister. This narrative is made for the big screen.

 

 

 

Post Script: The Lost Girls – Wendy James

The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls

Wendy James

Michael Joseph

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781921901058

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.

Curl Curl, Sydney, January 1978.

Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly . . .

Jane worships her older cousin Angie. She spends her summer vying for Angie’s attention. Then Angie is murdered. Jane and her family are shattered. They withdraw into themselves, casting a veil of silence over Angie’s death.

Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. Jane is relieved to finally talk about her adored cousin. And so is her family. But whose version of Angie’s story – whose version of Angie herself – is the real one? And can past wrongs ever be made right?

The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing – not the past or even the present – is as she once imagined.

My View:

What an incredible talent this author has that she can take you back thirty odd years, to a time of innocence, to a time of discovery, a time of burgeoning sexual awakening that is the adolescent in the ‘70s.    With a stroke of a pen we are in that small country town, it is school holidays, we are watching TV; Sounds Unlimited, The Road Runner, Elvis re runs… going to the corner shop for mum and dad, happy to spend the change on lollies, listening to the radio, buying records of our favourite artists with Christmas money/pocket money, following our best friend and older cousin around, happy to be on the periphery of her golden aura.

But Angie is not content with hanging round with her younger cousin. She wants more; more admiration, more excitement, more experiences.  Life suddenly changes when Angie goes missing. Her death haunts her family for the next thirty odd years. Innocence is buried with Angie at the cemetery. Life is never the same.

This is a complex narrative that straddles the two time frames with ease – the settings and the stories of the past, 1978, the year Angie died and the present 2010 when the family are forced to relive, remember and recount the days surrounding the disappearance and the discovery of Angie’s dead body a few days later.  This is a story about memories, about families, about relationships, about how death and separation affects us and about the burden of secrets and lies that emotionally cripple a family until the truth is revealed. And a huge reveal it is.

James teases out the story using interviews, transcripts, multiple perspectives and recollections/memories – great devices to reveal the bigger picture.  Wendy James creates characters that are warm, that are flawed, that are passionate, that are real; I can recognise people I know in her characters. James asks the question – how far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Brilliant settings, engaging characters, a murder and a thirty year old mystery and wonderful storytelling this book has it all.