What I Am Reading This Week

Banjarwarn

Josh Kemp

UWA Press

ISBN:9781760802141

Description:

Winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

Garreth Hoyle is a true crime writer whose destructive love affair with hallucinogenic drugs has sent him searching for ghosts in the unforgiving mallee desert of Western Australia. Heading north through Kalgoorlie, he attempts to score off old friends from his shearing days on Banjawarn Station. His journey takes an unexpected detour when he discovers an abandoned ten-year-old girl and decides to return her to her estranged father in Leonora, instead of alerting authorities. Together they begin the road trip from hell through the scorched heart of the state’s northern goldfields.

Love, friendship and hope are often found in the strangest places, but forgiveness is never simple, and the past lies buried just beneath the blood red topsoil. The only question is whether Hoyle should uncover it, or run as fast as his legs can take him.

Banjawarn is an unsettling debut from Josh Kemp. Echoing Cormac McCarthy’s haunting border trilogy and narrative vernacular that recalls the sparse lyricism of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton, this is a darkly funny novel that earns its place amongst the stable of Australian gothic literature.

This week ….

This week sees another work by a West Australian author land in my post box. I think this is the year that WA authors will shine. Banjarwarn is the debut novel, winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript written by Josh Kemp, a resident of the South West of Western Australia.

This book is about landscapes both familiar and alien, and sometimes they are both at the same time. 🙂 The red dirt, the remoteness, the regional towns of Kalgoorlie and Leonora are all too familiar, we took a caravan trip through these towns ( and further) last year ( and lots of my recent abstract landscapes were inspired by these areas, their remoteness, their bold colours, their atmosphere). Kemp captures these moody, vast, isolated, locations perfectly.

The landscape of drug abuse – PCP and ‘meth is one I am not so familiar with and Kemp paints a picture that shocks and yet informs and somehow is empathetic.

This book defies being defined as this or that. It is a love story, it has gothic echoes, it is a story of drug abuse, it is a story of compassion and friendship…it is a story of a harsh landscape and ultimately it is a story of hope.

I do hope you get an opportunity to read this one.

PS the cover art perfectly depicts the remote and wild country that the book rests on.

Review: Blind Date – Brenda Chapman

Blind Date

Hunter and Tate #1

Brenda Chapman

Kindle

ASIN: B09PNWW5GK

Description:

Nobody’s safe when a killer has you in their sights.

True crime podcaster Ella Tate is shaken to her core by the horrific assault and murder of Josie Wheatly, a teacher she has never met … because not only had Josie moved into Ella’s vacated apartment three months earlier, but her Facebook photos reveal a striking resemblance between the two women.

Within days, two people close to Ella are harmed, and she fears that she’s become the target of twisted revenge from her crime-reporting days. Reluctantly teaming up with her neighbour Tony, a hairdresser who loves the finer things in life, and Liam Hunter, the persistent detective assigned to the cases, Ella struggles to stay one step ahead before she becomes the target of the final kill.

My View:

It is no secret that I have been a long time fan of Brenda Chapman’s,  The Stonechild and Rouleau police procedurals. After I finished the last in that series, I did wonder what we might expect next from this accomplished author, I was so pleased to discover Blind Date.,

In Blind Date Chapman has created another very followable partnership of crime investigators- Ella – true crime pod caster/journalist and Hunter, cop. I like this this team. We learn a lot about Ella in this read, her past, her family, her trauma, her resilience. Hunter’s role in this book, whilst important, was not the focus and I am sure that in the next book in the series we will get to know Hunter a lot better.

Character lead crime fiction is one of my favourite genres and if its one you love you will not go wrong picking up a copy of this just released book. I cant wait to read more about Ella Tate and Liam Hunter

Review: Notes on an Execution, Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Execution

Danya Kukaefka

Hachette Australia

Phoenix

ISBN:9781474625968

Description:

In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life—from the bestselling author of Girl in Snow.

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.

Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.

My View:

I finished reading this book last night and it is still siting with me, nudging me to think, reminding me of the subtleties exposed, the many “what if’s”, the many ways violence is perpetrated against women.

One of the most interesting questions this book raises is why do we continually look for excuses for bad behavior and then accept the behaviour? I love how this question has been woven into the text; the excuse of bad parenting/poor role models, nature versus nurture, low socio economic influences, a hint of a head injury, needing a chance, “it’s not his fault”… the list goes on.

This book begins with a horrific story of domestic abuse; the grooming, the social isolation, the financial control, control of resources – including food… this in itself is a shocking but accurate portrait of abuse. Into this situation a serial killer is born. Once this part of the narrative is unlocked, we then see the world mostly through the eyes of the women in the orbit of this killer, who is now on death row.

This is an intelligently written discourse on violence against women, the excuses we make to ourselves, the excuses society seems keen to seek out, and a serial killer narrative all at the same time – what a feat to capture so much in one book! Taught, at times ugly, very sad, thought provoking, engaging…

5 Stars.

Friendship…How Well Do You Really Know Someone?

Female friendships  – start a trend and celebrate them on Valentines Day #BFF

To win a copy of this intriguing book – in the comments tell me which WA author praises this read. (Hint – see here) 

the-fifth-letter

The Fifth Letter

Nicola Moriarty

HarperCollins Australia

ISBN: 9781460751312

Description:

How well do you really know your friends?

Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year to reconnect and take a break from the demands of their everyday lives. Now in their thirties, commitments have pulled them in different directions and the closeness they once enjoyed growing up seems increasingly elusive.
This year, determined to revive their intimacy, the four friends each share a secret in an anonymous letter to be read out during the holiday. But instead of bringing them closer, the revelations seem to drive them apart.
Then a fifth letter is discovered, and it becomes clear that one of the friends is hiding something sinister. Suddenly it seems that one of the women is in serious danger. But who was the author? And which of them should be worried?
The Fifth Letter examines the often complex nature of women’s friendships, the loyalty and honesty that they demand, and the battle to hold onto relationships that once seemed essential but are now outgrown.

****This giveaway is open to Australian resident only. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia  for generously supporting this giveaway. Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.