10 December 2017

Review: THE NEIGHBOUR, Lisa Gardner

  • this edition published 2009
  • printed in Australia by Griffin Press
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-0103-1
  • 369 pages
Synopsis (author website)

This is what happened …

It was a case guaranteed to spark a media feeding frenzy-a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect.

In the last six hours …

But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. D. Warren arrives at the Joneses’ snug little bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create. On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones are like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murkier.

Of the world as I knew it …

With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his “beloved” wife. Is the perfect husband trying to hide his guilt-or just trying to hide? And will the only witness to the crime be the killer’s next victim?

My Take

In the  "About the author" at the end of the book, Lisa Gardner is described as a research junkie. There are definite signs of that in this book, in fact, I think, a little too much of the research about computers, the internet, and deleting files has found its way into the book. Perhaps back in 2009 when it was all a bit new, this went down well with readers. But today it all feels a bit too much.

The other thing which the author tried to do I think was trick the reader too much and too often. There were just too many red herrings. I've read a couple of "missing wives" books this year: A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, Shari Lapena and DON'T LET GO, Michel Bussi, and I think both created more credible scenarios than this one did.

Nevertheless, I did read it to the end, and there was a final twist.
I just think the plot wandered in places, and perhaps too many devices were used.

It also appears that the novel is 3rd in a series (9 novels?). Perhaps I would have fared better with an earlier introduction to D.S. D.D. Warren.

However it is a book that people took notice of when it was published:
Awarded Best Hard Cover Novel from the International Thriller Writers – July 2010
Top 10 of Best Books of 2009 – Suspense Magazine
Best Adrenaline Novel 2010 Reading List – American Library Association
Best Thriller of 2009 Nominee – Library Journal
Awarded Grand Prix des Lectrices de ELLE 2011 : prix du policier – “La maison d’à côté” – Elle Magazine


My rating: 3.9

3 December 2017

Review: THE LIGHT ON THE WATER, Olga Lorenzo

  • this edition published by Allen & Unwin Australia 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-92526-654-2
  • 350 pages
  • Longlisted Best Adult Novel - Davitt Awards 2017
Synopsis (publisher)

A little girl disappears in the wilderness. Two years later her mother is arrested for her murder. A provocative and unflinching literary novel of love, guilt and grief set against the wilderness of the Australian coast.
Recently divorced and trying to make sense of her new life, Anne takes her daughter Aida on an overnight bushwalk in the moody wilderness of Wilsons Promontory. In a split second, Aida disappears and a frantic Anne scrambles for help. Some of the emergency trackers who search for Aida already doubt Anne's story.

Nearly two years later and still tormented by remorse and grief, Anne is charged with her daughter's murder. Witnesses have come forward, offering evidence which points to her guilt. She is stalked by the media and shunned by friends, former colleagues and neighbours.

On bail and awaiting trial, Anne works to reconstruct her last hours with Aida. She remembers the sun high in the sky, the bush noisy with insects, and her own anxiety, as oppressive as the heat haze.

A superbly written and conceived literary work about the best and the worst aspects of family life, this story asks difficult questions about society, the media, and our rush to judgement. This is a thoughtful, provocative and unflinching novel in the tradition of Helen Garner, Joan London and Charlotte Wood. 
 
My Take
 
Aida, 6 years old and autistic, runs ahead of her mother on an overnight camping trip and bushwalk to Wilsons Promontory and disappears. Anne has already questioned her own wisdom in taking Aida for this walk, and when Aida cannot be found, others question it too. Hours turn into days, weeks, and months and there is no news about what has happened to Aida. Media attention ensures that Anne is unable to appear in public without people recognising her face and often saying dreadful things. A FaceBook page she sets up turns nasty. Friends turn away when they see her.

Eventually it becomes obvious that the police are considering charging Anne with negligence or worse. 

A very thought provoking read, probably on the outer rim of crime fiction.

My rating: 4.4
 
About the author
Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother's House, which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards. She has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. Olga has taught writing at RMIT University and in a variety of other Melbourne tertiary institutions for nineteen years, and has a Masters and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. She previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age

1 December 2017

What I read in November 2017

A good reading month, both in the number of books read, and the quality of them.
Pick of the Month presents a difficult choice, so you make the choice.
I'm inclined to go with HER by Garry Disher
Lots of Australian authors in the list. -**
  1. 4.7, THE DARK LAKE, Sarah Bailey**
  2. 4.7, HER, Garry Disher **
  3. 4.4, BARKING DOGS, Rebekah Clarkson**
  4. 4.8, THE GHOST, Robert Harris - audio book
  5. 4.4, A TALENT FOR MURDER, Andrew Wilson 
  6. 4.1, MURDER IN THE AFTERNOON EXTRA, Peter Bartram 
  7. 4.3, MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON, A. H. Richardson
  8. 4.5, A NECESSARY EVIL, Abir Mukherj
  9. 4.6, DYING TO LIVE, Michael Stanley
  10. 4.6, WIMMERA, Mark Brandi **
  11. 4.2, A MAN'S HEAD, Georges Simenon - audio book
  12. 4.7, AN IRON ROSE, Peter Temple **
  13. 4.4, OCTOBER IS THE COLDEST MONTH, Christopher Carlsson
 See what others have chosen as Pick of the Month

Pick of the Month - November 2017

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2017
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for November 2017, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
e.g.
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.


30 November 2017

Review: OCTOBER IS THE COLDEST MONTH, Christopher Carlsson

  • this edition a review copy from Scribe Publications 2016
  • translated from Swedish by Rachel Willson-Aroyles
  • ISBN 978-1-925322-21-7
  • 181 pages
Synopsis (Publisher)

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

My take

Several incidents in this novel ensure that the innocence of Vega's childhood has gone forever. She has had a tough childhood anyway but the going from now one threatens to be even tougher. She lives with her mother who works in a bar at night, her uncle Dan sells moonshine, assisted by her brother Jakob who has left home.

Her brother becomes an accessory to a crime that puts the police on his trail, and Vega needs to know what actually happened and why.

I found this a complex and rather bleak novel. In the end I kept thinking that the future for Vega cannot be good. The book blurb says it is the author's first for young adult readers, and there are certainly some provoking "coming of age" elements.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Christoffer Carlsson was born in 1986 and raised in Halmstad, on the west coast of Sweden. He has a PhD in criminology, and is a university lecturer in the subject. He began writing at a very young age and has, since his debut at twenty-three, written five novels in the crime genre. October is the Coldest Month is his first book for young adults. In 2013, he became the youngest author ever to have won the award for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, which he was awarded for the first book in the celebrated Leo Junker series, The Invisible Man from Salem .

27 November 2017

Review: AN IRON ROSE, Peter Temple

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 641 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Text Publishing (April 26, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 26, 2012
  • first published 1998
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007CAJX2C
Synopsis  (Amazon)

The classic thriller by the five-time winner of the Ned Kelly Award. Introduction by Les Carlyon.

When Mac Faraday's best friend is found hanging, the assumption is suicide. But Mac is far from convinced, and he's a man who knows not to accept things at face value.

A regular at the local pub, a mainstay of the footy team, Mac is living the quiet life of a country blacksmith - a life connected to a place, connected to its people.

But Mac carries a burden of fear and vigilance from his old life.
And as this past of secrets, corruption, abuse and murder begins to close in, he must turn to long-forgotten resources to hang on to everything he holds dear, including his own life.

'When men in police uniforms came to execute me on the roadside, beside dark fields, it was a definite sign that my new life was over.' A regular at the local pub, a mainstay of the footy team, Mac Faraday is a man with a past living the quiet life of a country blacksmith. But when his best friend Ned Lowey is found hanged, Mac - who has learned the hard way never to accept things at face value - isn't convinced he committed suicide and starts asking questions. Why did Ned keep press cuttings about the skeleton of a girl found in an old mine shaft? What was he doing at Kinross Hall, the local detention centre for juvenile girls? Who was the beaten girl found naked beside a lonely road? As Mac's search for answers pushes deeper into the past, it resurrects the terrifying spectre of what he calls his 'old life', forcing him to turn to long-discarded skills not only to discover why his best friend died, but also to save his own life.

My Take

AN IRON ROSE was Peter Temple's second novel, a stand alone that followed BAD DEBTS which was his first in the Jack Irish series. I thought that there were many similarities between Jack Irish and Mac Faraday.

Faraday is a former Federal policeman who was forced to resign and start a new life after a drugs job went horribly wrong. He never understood how things went so badly and always blamed himself, his own lack of concentration and intuition. Since leaving the police force he has managed to lead a private life, but when his neighbour and friend Ned dies he decides to call in some favours. He is not satisfied with the verdict of suicide for Ned's death. His actions alert those who believe he knows too much to where he is and sets the ball rolling.

This was a very good read and made me very aware of the fact that there are a number of Peter Temple novels that I have not caught up with.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
TRUTH

More about Peter Temple
In 2007 Australian crime fiction writer Peter Temple was the first Australian author to win the UK Crime Writer's Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger award - popularly known as the Gold Dagger - for his novel THE BROKEN SHORE, published 2005.

Mini Reviews (written before I began this blog)
I began 2006 and 2007 in a similar fashion when I gave Temple's THE BROKEN SHORE a rating of 5 at the beginning of each year. Here are my mini reviews:

2006:
Joe Cashin was different once. He moved easily then; was surer and less thoughtful. But there are consequences when you've come so close to dying. For Cashin, they included a posting away from the world of Homicide to the quiet place on the coast where he grew up. Now all he has to do is play the country cop and walk the dogs. And sometimes think about how he was before. Then prominent local Charles Bourgoyne is bashed and left for dead. Everything seems to point to three boys from the nearby Aboriginal community; everyone seems to want it to. But Cashin is unconvinced. And as tragedy unfolds relentlessly into tragedy, he finds himself holding onto something that might be better let go.

2007:
(re-read) Joe Cashin was once a hot shot homicide detective in Melbourne. But he went with his gut feeling once too often and a young policeman ended up dead and Joe himself was left in critical condition. Now he has been sent to his home town, where nothing ever happens, to be in charge of a small police station, so that he can work while recuperating. A prominent local is bashed and left for dead in what appears to be a burglary gone wrong. All the signs point to local aboriginal youths and the town is only too ready to assume they are responsible. Bringing them in results in tragedy and Joe is suspended, but that doesn't mean he stops working. 2005 Ned Kelly Award winner.

Peter Temple books

Jack Irish
1. Bad Debts (1996)
2. Black Tide (2000)
3. Dead Point (2000)
4. White Dog (2003)

Broken Shore
1. The Broken Shore (2005)
2. Truth (2008)


Novels
An Iron Rose (1998)
Shooting Star (1999)
In the Evil Day (2002) 

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