Review: Every Time He Dies – Tara East

 

Every Time He Dies

Tara East

Tara East – self published

ISBN: 9780648581512

 

Description:

Daphne Lawrence is haunted. Two years ago, her fiancé died in a terrible accident, her mother passed away from cancer and she stopped speaking to her father. As an embalmer, Daff is used to the company of dead people, but she isn’t used to them talking back. In fact, Daff isn’t used to anything that could be considered woo-woo including, but not limited to: psychics, crystal, meditation, tarot cards, vision quests and coincidences. Too bad that’s everything she’s experiencing.

 

Daff is forced to confront her own long ignored grief when she discovers a haunted watch buried in the sand at Golden Beach. The problem is, her ghost has no memory of his former life or how he died.

 

As Daff seeks to discover the spectre’s identity, dangerous truths and hidden secrets are revealed. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of an on-going homicide investigation led by Detective Sergeant Jon Lawrence, her father. A story about grief, time and identity, Every Time He Dies will leave you wondering whether our dearly beloveds ever really depart.

 

My View:

A brilliant debut!

 

This is a multilayered, deeply moving narrative of redemption, forgiveness, identity, moving on, grieving, bikies, lies, mysteries and ghosts. What a fabulous read and oh so satisfying.

 

Tara East is a very visual storyteller; I watched this story play out in technicolour 3D in my head, the locations, very Australian, (is it coincidence that the most readable speculative fiction I have come across are based in/around Brisbane, Queensland?), the characters so vibrant (I love you Daff and Liam, well mostly Liam but Daff you are a very engaging protagonist) and the mysteries, intriguing.

 

I do hope that this is the start of a series, I can’t wait to read more about Daff’s adventures as she assist the newly dead on their quests.

 

Review: The Cottage at Rosella Cove – Sandie Docker

The Cottage at Rosella Cove

Sandie Docker

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789215

 

Description:

Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?

 

LOST

Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the

first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.

 

FOUND

Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.

 

FORGOTTEN

Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

 

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.

 

 

My View:

Isn’t it great when you discover a new author to add to your “authors you must read” list?

 

Sandie Docker writes with a subtleness that is poignant and encompasses many contemporary social issues without shouting her message loudly in your face.  There are many threads to this narrative – domestic violence – DV does not always include physical violence; it can be a deliberate isolation from friends and family, a slow erosion of self and self-confidence, financial dependence/control…the psychological assault is oh so manipulative and dire…Docker weaves this thread into the narrative with a deceptive charm – blink and you will miss the signs – just as the victim does. But this is more than a narrative of DV, it is a charming story of friendships, new and old, about redemption, rebuilding  –  I liked the analogy for rebuilding life/rebuilding cottage – by allowing friendship in and opening  up your heart to possibilities and hope.

 

I loved the device – the reading of old letters – to fill in gaps, to tell a personal history and a world history, to add depth to characters, and to provide optimism and resolution.

 

This is a deceptively simple narrative that encompasses so much life. A great read.

 

 

 

Post Script: And Fire Came Down – Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down

And Fire Came Down

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

Bonnier

ISBN: 9781760402945

 

Description:

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic is used to meeting life head-on. Now, he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.

 

But when a young woman is killed, after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. The trail leads Caleb back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert, and simmering with racial tensions. As Caleb delves deeper, he uncovers secrets that could ruin any chance of reuniting with Kat, and even threaten his life. Driven by his own demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

 

‘I love the world that Emma Viskic has created, in all its complexity and in all its truth’ – Christos Tsiolkas

 

‘Emma Viskic is a terrific, gutsy writer with great insight into the murkiness of both criminal and heroic motivations’ – Emily Maguire

 

The second Caleb Zelic thriller from the author of Resurrection Bay – Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and Davitt Awards for Best Novel, Best Debut and Reader’s Choice.

 

 

My View:

The continuing narrative of the chaotic life of Caleb Zelic, private investigator, is filled with suspense, mystery, anger, social commentary wit, humour and many exquisite moments. This is a portrait of a fractured love, a fractured life with many references to Picasso’s Guernica; violence, chaos, war, flames…the suffering of innocents.

 

The writing is evocative and fast paced. Themes of family, drug reliance, race and identity intersect and explode in small town contemporary Australia. This narrative is fraught with regrets and what ifs, there are many stories left unfinished, many moments of heartache and pain yet there is a glimpse of potential, of a brighter future, of redemption (for some)…book three will be amazing!

 

“Not together, not apart, still caught between breaths.” P.151 Exquisite and powerful writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Tell The Truth Shame The Devil – Melina Marchetta

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil

Tell the Truth Shame the Devil

Melina Marchetta

Viking

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780670079100

 

Description:

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

 

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

 

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.

 

 

My View:

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

Deftly created empathetic characters; a strong female cast, women supporting women, family – in all shapes and sizes is a major element in this mystery. Complex – so many contemporary issues are addressed in this novel yet it is not verbose or pretentious or patronising. Heart felt scenarios – I dare you not to have a tear in your eye as you encounter the last few pages of the book – not tears of sadness but of relief, thankfulness, gratitude…tears for the potential you can visualise.

 

Don’t mistake my commendations as a sign this is a “chick lit” style book – it isn’t! This is an incredibly well written contemporary mystery/thriller with such well-developed characters you feel like you know them! Redemption, forgiveness, hope…its all here. I can’t praise this read highly enough. Add this to your book buying list now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Try Not To Breathe – Holly Seddon

Try Not To Breathe

Try Not To Breathe

Holly Seddon

Allen & Unwin

Corvus

ISBN: 9781782396680

 

Description:

A woman’s search for the truth about a brutal attack on a teenage girl puts her in danger in this tense, emotionally-charged psychological thriller: perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train or The Book of You.

 

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

 

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park not far from her house. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

 

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

 

 

My view:

This is a narrative that sparkles on so many fronts! This is a remarkable debut novel – though to be fair, Holly Seddon has been writing since she stepped out of college and into the freelance world at least fifteen years ago, this however is her first novel. You cannot tell – the writing her is succinct, polished and oh so addictive. I loved this read.

 

Try Not to Breathe is a book that is written mostly from the view point of Alex – a woman who is addicted to alcohol, a compulsion that dictates and ruins her life (mostly). This is a very confronting look at addiction – it is not however at all despondent or a self-indulgent look at this world – it is a matter of fact, almost clinical in description and Alex has almost accepted that this is her life until she stumbles across Amy and her story. Amy has been hospitalised and in an unresponsive state since she suffered a horrendous physical attack. She cannot communicate with the outside world. Another impressive revelation of life as we could not possibly imagine it – but there is hope. This “personal” story is mind blowing!

 

Two very personal revealing narrative threads, three if you consider Jacob’s story which is also very much integral to the overall story arc.

And then we have a mystery – who attacked Amy? A cold case reopened. Redemption and hope and justice eventuate. Brilliantly written, engaging, eye opening, tragic but with a sense of optimism…just loved it! I can’t wait to read what Holly Seddon comes up with next.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Woman Before Me: Ruth Dugdall

The Woman Before Me

Ruth Dugdall

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781909593619

Description:

Winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and the Luke Bitmead Bursary

Shortlisted for The New Angle Book Prize, The People’s Book Prize and the Brit Writer’s Novel Award.

 

‘They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.’

Rose Wilks’ life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her is Emma Hatcher, who’s just given birth to Luke. Joel dies and Luke is thriving, until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke’s death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.

Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so… by what means?

My View:

This is a haunting story of obsession, birth and murder and the consequences of said behaviours. This is the type of book that once you have read it; it sits with you, teasing your memories, challenging your ethics, ideals and questions “what would you do in this position?”

This is an interesting narrative; before we have even turned the first page we know that 1 baby dies in hospital and one has died in a tragedy, that Rose Wilks has been charged and found guilty of the death of baby Luke and that she is in gaol awaiting possible release on parole. Here we meet probation officer Cate who has the unenviable task of determining if Rose is suitable for early release.  And this is where our story actually starts.

This is a story of the everyday, by that I mean the language is simple, cleanly written, neat and precise. The story sits quietly on the page, daringly revealing the truth word by word, entry by entry in Rose’s diary. In this narrative we have the alternating perspectives of Cate and Rose to guide the reader.

Dugdall is excellent in creating mood and setting. I found the prison settings, inmates and guards disquieting. I did not however find any of the characters particularly inviting or endearing. I did find the story particularly sad and the twist in the tail will surprise many.  I wonder what Ms Dugdall will come with in her next book?

Post Script: My Dearest Jonah – Matthew Crow

In words hide secrets…

My Dearest Jonah

Matthew Crow

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781908248251

 

Description:

Like you I’ve been feeling forlorn of late. I don’t know how long you have to be somewhere before it begins to feel normal, before you start to feel as though you belong… And so all I have is you. Your letters and the thought that somewhere, something good exists in my life. For now that seems enough to get by on.’

Introduced via a pen-pal scheme, Verity and Jonah write their lives, hopes and dreams to one another without ever having met.

Verity is a fragile beauty. When a dangerous sequence of events is set in motion, she tries to explain to Jonah what led her to unravel so spectacularly. Jonah has been released after years of imprisonment and embarks upon the quiet life he’s always wanted. But then a dark reminder shatters his world, one that’s keen to make history repeat itself.

Offering the sole strand of stability in two progressively elaborate lives, Verity and Jonah develop a deep and delicate love, a love that becomes clouded and threatened by increasingly dark forces.

My View:

This is superbly crafted and elegantly written narrative that uses the device of letter writing to explore the lives and perspectives of the two main characters – Verity and Jonah. Verity and Jonah have never physically met yet share a camaraderie and friendship based on loneliness and their individual strange circumstances; a supportive alliance is formed, perhaps even love?

I loved that the letter writing device maintained and disclosed the details two very different lives. The reader dangles on the hook, lusting for more details of the main characters lives as the tension is built. And what interesting characters they both are – I felt a sense of admiration for Jonah and the apparent efforts he was making to live a good life – silly me! How I was conned. (But no spoilers here) Verity was not quite as endearing, perhaps a little distant and not quite so engaging but as a character she allowed me a glimpse of a life that was strong, passionate, independent and courageous. She dared to live! She dared to dream, she was honest about herself, her life and her lifestyle. This character was quite a remarkable woman.

I found the writing itself almost lyrical, elegant and often caught myself almost reading the letters out loud – I think this would really be a wonderful experience – a stage /radio show perhaps? The language itself was interesting – often contradicting the academic and socio economic levels of the characters – again I found this deliberate playing with language attractive and entertaining.

Throughout this narrative Matthew Crow displays an uncanny power of observation and understanding of the world and how it revolves. The writing is powerful and sensitive; the almost formal style of letter writing is particular engaging; the reader is often caught unawares when an expletive or action emerges that shocks as it does not fit this formal, genteel approach which is the style of the bulk of the letters. Perhaps this is Crow hinting that all is perhaps not quite as it seems on paper, hinting that we should be more observant and less reliant of the written word?  I admire Crow’s use of language and the spectacular way the story unravels and turns the narrative on its head. This was a delight to read.