Review: Greenlight- Benjamin Stevenson

Greenlight

Greenlight

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789871

 

Description:

Four years ago Eliza Dacey was brutally murdered.

Within hours, her killer was caught.

Wasn’t he?

 

So reads the opening titles of Jack Quick’s new true-crime documentary.

 

A skilled producer, Jack knows that the bigger the conspiracy, the higher the ratings. Curtis Wade, convicted of Eliza’s murder on circumstantial evidence and victim of a biased police force, is the perfect subject. Millions of viewers agree.

 

Just before the finale, Jack uncovers a minor detail that may prove Curtis guilty after all. Convinced it will ruin his show, Jack disposes of the evidence and delivers the finale unedited: proposing that Curtis is innocent.

 

But when Curtis is released, and a new victim is found bearing horrifying similarities to the original murder, Jack realises that he may have helped a guilty man out of jail. And, as the only one who knows the real evidence of the case, he is the only one who can send him back …

 

 

My View:

About Benjamin Stevenson (https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/benjamin-stevenson):

 

Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. He has sold out shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has appeared on ABCTV, Channel 10, and The Comedy Channel. Off-stage, Benjamin has worked for publishing houses and literary agencies in Australia and the USA. He currently works with some of Australia’s best-loved authors at Curtis Brown Australia. Greenlight is his first novel.

 

I have just finished reading Greenlight and wanted to know a little bit about the author as I was very impressed with this debut.  What a surprise – a comedian? There is no comedy in Greenlight.  Works in the publishing industry, I was sure I was going to find but didn’t – works in the film industry, specifically on documentaries, his protagonist Jack has an authentic documentary maker voice.  I loved this aspect of the book.

 

Back to the book – this is a brutal, dark and intriguing crime fiction narrative.

 

I like how Stevenson has turned the stereotype regarding eating disorders on its head; a sad yet refreshing and honest approach here.

 

Consequences, guilt, redemption and acceptance are themes that are sited in small town prejudices. Tension, tension, tension. And the ending – no spoilers here. Think you have it worked out? Think again.

 

A great read.

 

Sidetracked…

In the mail this week I received a copy of  The Girl Who Takes and Eye For an Eye – David Lagercrantz (continuing the Steig Larsson triology). All good except I then realised  that this is book 5 and I hadn’t read book  4.  A bit of googling and I came across a copy in the local area – quick into the car and was immediately sidetracked by a pop up cellar door – open today only.  We had to stop.  What delightful wines.

 

Pop up cellar door and books

 

 

Apricot and Peach Fruit Wine: Ferment – Holly Davis

Ferment cover

Ferment

Holly Davis

Murdoch Books 

ISBN: 9781743368671

 

Images and recipes from Ferment by Holly Davis (Murdoch Books, RRP $45) Photography by Ben Dearnley.

 

apricot and peach fruit wine
first fermentation

Apricot and Peach Fruit Wine

“Here is a sweet, slightly alcoholic fruit wine ideal for those hot summer days. Choose seasonal, ripe and semi-ripe fruits with some acidity, which will improve the mix. ” p. 84

Makes 3 litres (105 fl oz/12 cups) Ready in 4–6 days

 

660 g (1 lb 7 oz/3 cups) raw sugar

1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) lightly brewed black tea

2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) ripe unblemished peaches, stones removed and quartered

2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) ripe unblemished apricots, stones removed and quartered

2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) filtered water

 

Combine the sugar and strained tea in a non-reactive bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely. Take a wide, deep crock or bowl, which will hold the fruit leaving stirring space, and add the fresh peaches and apricots. Pour the sweet tea over the fruit and stir in the water.

capture Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and leave in a cool spot for 4–5 days. As frequently as possible, during each day (5–6 times or more), stir the liquid using a wooden spoon to create a swirling vortex, then change direction and repeat. (Stirring this way helps to draw air into the liquid and encourages yeast activity.)

At day 3 or 4 the mix should be bubbling, and around day 6 or so it should seriously bubble and froth. Keep stirring and smelling for another couple of days, watching to see when the froth subsides, indicating that fermentation has slowed right down. Trust your nose; if it smells fruity and delectable don’t wait for it to improve, move to the next stage. Strain the mix through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, pressing as much of the liquid from the fruit as possible. Decant the strained fruit wine into swing-top bottles and chill in the fridge.

This is best consumed within 1–2 weeks. Open daily to avoid overly boisterous effervescence.

 

Tomato, Fennel and Salmon Soup: All Day Cafe – Stuart McKenzie

All Day Cafe_CVR

‘Images and recipes from All Day Café by Stuart McKenzie (Murdoch Books). Photography by Armelle Habib. RRP $39.99.’

 

Tomato, fennel and salmon soup with saffron aioli

Serves 4–6

“Inspired by bouillabaisse, this is a hearty and comforting soup, heady with the aroma of saffron. Throw in some mussels and prawns (shrimp) and you have a delicious seafood stew.” p. 204

Bouquet garni

1 orange, zest removed in strips with a potato peeler

1 cinnamon stick

4 star anise

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

6 bay leaves

6 thyme sprigs

 

Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, sliced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine

2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins diced tomatoes

1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) Chicken stock or Vegetable stock  (page 151)

300 g (10 1/2 oz) skinless salmon fillet, diced

a small pinch of saffron threads

 

Saffron aïoli

a pinch of saffron threads

1/2 quantity Aïoli (page 111)

 

Tomato fennel and salmon soup

 

To make the bouquet garni, tie all the ingredients together in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth).

 

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and chilli and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until the onion and fennel are translucent and starting to colour.

 

Add the wine, tomatoes, stock, salmon, saffron
and bouquet garni. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

To make the saffron aioli, put the saffron in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon water and leave to soak for 15–20 minutes, to activate the stamen and release the colour. Drain, discarding the water. Add the saffron to the aïoli and mix well.

 

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of saffron aïoli.

 

 

Bob the Dog Loves …

Lovely to have our Perth based daughter visiting with us this week.  Yesterday she took Bob the Dog (and her mum and dad)  to The Beer Farm  in Metricup (a ten minute drive from our place). What lovely surrounds –  among the farms and vineyards; Margaret River Region is now becoming known for great locally produced beers as well as wines.

The Beer Farm

The best part of the outing, aside from my cider, was the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that Bob the Dog (a very well behaved dog) was welcome to join us.

 

Bob the Dog

 

Post Script: Rose’s Vintage – Kayte Nunn

Rose's Vintage

Rose’s Vintage

Kayte Nunn

Nero

Black Inc Books

ISBN: 9781863957991

 

Description:

With her heart in tatters after a relationship break-up, Rose Bennett swaps her hometown of London for the sunny shores of Australia – but she arrives to find the Shingle Valley shrouded in winter.

 

As the weather improves, Rose starts to unlock the secrets of the valley – from bonfire ceremonies and wine-making traditions to eccentric locals and their histories.

 

Despite herself, Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after – and with the handsome and brilliant Mark Cameron, owner of the troubled Kalkari Wines estate.

 

What will happen when Mark’s estranged wife, the tempestuous Isabella, returns? Will Rose find a future in the Shingle Valley, or will she be forced to leave?

 

 

My View:

This is the prefect pick me up read when you have had a hard day, a hard week or just finished a few emotionally draining works of crime fiction.  For me a conspiracy of all the above elements meant I really needed a read that would energise not drain my emotions and make me smile. This fir the bill perfectly.

 

I love the settings – Australian wineries and small country towns juxtaposed against fast paced city living. I had visions of the Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa districts or even the Margret River wine region where I live (maybe because they are all wine regions I have visited/know).  The settings speak of family owned primary producers/communities almost anywhere in the world– the hard work, the long hours, the camaraderie with others producers in your regions, the local gossip, secrets and how a community comes together to celebrate when success is achieved or to help when the call out is made.

 

The characters are interesting and written with depth and I especially liked how the writer sprinkles the pages with Rose’s honest thoughts as she try to make sense of the new situations she finds herself in (and the new country) and the people she meets.   The vineyard and its changing seasons; pruning, budburst, flower, vintage, provides the overarching narrative and back drop to the action in the books, almost a character is its own right.

 

Another great debut!

 

Read and enjoy, relax and smile!