24 April 2013


Synopsis (Amazon)

When Martin Stream, successful Australian business icon is murdered one morning on a Manly ferry on his way to work, local detective inspectors Georgia Show and Stephen French step in to solve the case. Martin, married with three adult children has a business empire spanning the globe. The police think they are close to a solution and probably suspects – when there is a second murder at the ghostly Quarantine Station in Manly. This time it’s a well dressed European woman – is there a connection?

A Mother Without A Child, the first in the Manly Murder series by Gunilla Haglundh has been compared to the English series Midsomer Murders. You will be taken on a wild ride from the Italian mafia to unsavoury business deals to the Manly Quarantine’s history through to the final solutions for the murders. All is definitely not what it seems.

This novel set in Sydney’s northern beaches is guaranteed to keep you guessing, while at the same time revealing much of beachside Manly’s history.

My Take

This is an ambitious novel from an experienced Australian female writer, but her first fiction title. It is a police procedural with a penetrating sense of place, partly because of the author's strategy of giving descriptive background whenever the main characters visit a new location. The setting is reinforced by an authenticity of language that particularly shows in the construction of dialogue. She also has a strong sense of just how tedious and meticulous detective work can be, but at the same time how the solution can be found quite accidentally.

Apart from the main plot of the two murders there are a couple of strong sub-plots centred around the detective inspectors investigating the murders. I liked the two main detectives, both of whom I found very plausible. Georgia Show in particular reminded me of Helene Tursten's Detective Inspector Irene Huss. The author successfully brings all plots together by the end of the novel, but didn't quite seem to know when to stop writing. The final chapter gives us an update on each of the main characters in the book which I didn't really think we needed.

The blurb on the novel calls it Australia's answer to Midsomer Murders, but I don't think it is quite that yet. Certainly Gunilla Haglundh has a fertile imagination, has created some strong investigative characters who presumably we will see in future novels, and so with her help there is every possibility Manly will become Australia's Midsomer. Definitely an author to follow, although the book could do with critical editing.

My rating: 3.7

The second book in the series, A LIFE SAVER'S SECRET, will be launched in May 2013.


Irene said...

thanks Kerrie.

Anne H said...

I read about this book on your blog and ordered it from the library.
Unless my copy is differnt from yours, Kerrie, I don't know how you could even feature it. It's so badly written I couldn't force myself to read past a few pages. It's a self-publication that should never have seen the light of day! The author isn';t fluent in English, makes mistakes with tenses, puts in undigested bits of facts, has no sense of style when she makes elementary mistakes like clumsy repetition of words and generally. (Couldn't she hear in her head what it sounded like?) She's not a natural writer and somebody should have told her! She had a reader who was her son, and somebody claims to have been her editor. What a joke! Waffly run on sentences...
You've been an English teacher, and you seem not to have noticed
any of this?
Sorry to be so critical, but I borrowed this really dreadful book because you featured it. You did actually read it??
I don't expect you to post this, once it's moderated, but it's time for some tough love for this woman.

Kerrie said...

Yes I did read it Anne and you'll notice that my rating is towards the bottom of my spectrum.I guess I tend to find some good in most books.

Kerrie said...

Had I been marking it as an English essay I might have had some very different things to say...

Anne H said...

I would have understood if you hadn't put my comment up! I couldn't find anything in the book to keep me reading. You scored it only minimally below much better books. I also borrowed another one you recommended, also originally self-published, by Kerry Wilkinson, that was quite well done. I was all the more annoyed that people who ought to have known better encouraged this writer to publish what should never have seen the light of day in its present form. An Antipodean answer to Midsomer? I could say I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but as someone who's done a lot of writing, some of it published, and even more reading, I just shook my head in disbelief. Writing is an art and a craft to be treated with respect.
Meanwhile, thanks for pointing me towards many really worthwhile new writers.

Kerrie said...

I do recognise that some people have to self-publish out of desperation Anne, and I did find redeeming features later in this book.
I have a policy of making myself write a review for every book I read, however there have been 3 books this year that I have not been able to write a review for.
I hope I haven't become an unreliable reviewer for you Anne.

Anne H said...

Not at all. I understand your reasons for reviewing it, but perhaps you could include a coded warning next time, say a rating below 4? If there are redeeming features later on as you claim, I really meant that I couldn't read it. Every few lines something stopped me dead. I'm not a snob, I read crime and thriller novels all the time, and I don't mind a plain style if it's telling a good story and it's fit to be published. I also don't believe this writer self-published out of desperation as it seemed to be part of a plan and a policy. Today I googled her and what I saw supports this judgment. She is a businesswoman who understands publicity. What she doesn't know is writing fiction; it seems to be a means to an end. A ghost or a collaborator might have been a better way to go about it. By the way, Goodreads' single reviewer gave her one star. Sorry to be so critical, but this book is up for judgment like any other once it's out in public. I support Australian writers and always have,always will, but this case is something else.


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