18 March 2018

Review: FRIDAY ON MY MIND, Nicci French

  • this edition published 2015 by the Penguin Group Australia
  • ISBN 978-0-78-17963-2
  • 375 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #5/7 in the Freda Klein series
Synopsis ( publisher)

When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man's wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein . . .
But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect.

Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it's too late either for her or for those she loves.

My Take

Freda Klein is not popular with the police. They have noticed that people around her seem to die; not only that, she often seems to have been responsible for the killing although so far no case has yet stuck. To rub salt into the wound, often Freda has been a conducting a police consultation at the time.

So when her name crops up in connected with the corpse retrieved from the Thames, Commissioner Crawford takes it upon himself to warn the investigating officer that Freda Klein is bad news. And then, just as they are ready to lay charges, Freda disappears. According to the police this is tantamount to a confession of guilt, but that is not how Freda herself sees it.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

Review: THE BONE IS POINTED, Arthur Upfield - audio book


Arthur Upfield's The Bone is Pointed follows Inspector Bonaparte who solves mysteries in the Australian outback. Published in the 1940's, this story not only offers up a good mystery but also a portrait of the aborigines and Australia in the early 20th century. Peter Hosking tackles this story with verve. He speaks with a clear Australian accent while developing the characters believably, giving each his own attributes. Meanwhile, his varied pacing makes the story easy to follow. Mystery lovers and history buffs alike will have fun with the Inspector Bonaparte Mysteries.

Jack Anderson was a big man with a foul temper, a sadist and a drunk. Five months after his horse appeared riderless, no trace of the man has surfaced and no one seems to care. But Bony is determined to follow the cold trail and smoke out some answers.

My Take

In this tale Bony appears as a Queensland C.I.B. detective on leave, turning up at an outback station where a rouseabout has gone missing during a storm. His horse turns up at the station the morning after the storm riderless and there is no trace of Jack Anderson. No black trackers are available because the whole local tribe has gone to visit a female elder thought to be dying. By the time a tracker can be found heavy rains have obliterated Anderson's tracks.

During the story Bony becomes ill with the "Barcoo sickness" but station owner is convinced that the bones has been pointed at him. At first Bony is determined that he will not succumb but he becomes weaker and weaker despite the attempts of the local policeman to help him.

Bony is also proud of his reputation that no case that he has tackled has ever gone unsolved, but that is because he stays on the case until the very end, despite telegrams from his superiors that he must return to the city immediately.

What impressed me was the detailed observations of Aboriginal culture and customs that the author must have recorded. He also presents both sides of the argument with regard to preserving aboriginal heritage. One station family in particular recognise the damage that contact with white people has done to the aborigines, but at the same time are a bit patronising in the way they deal with the aborigines on their station. The character who has disappeared has mistreated aboriginal stockmen, whipping one almost to death, and so is very unpopular. No-one can work out why "Old Lacey" the station owner has kept him on.

There is more than one mystery in this book, and it is good reading, despite the warning from the publisher that Arthur Upfield reflects attitudes of his time, not necessarily views we would share today.

My rating: 4.5

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15 March 2018


  • this edition published by Orion Books UK 2014
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-5376-4
  • source: my local library
  • 409 pages
  • author website: http://www.katemosse.co.uk
 Synopsis (author website)

The clock strikes twelve. Beneath the wind and the remorseless tolling of the bell, no one can hear the scream . . .1912. A Sussex churchyard.

Villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will not survive the coming year are thought to walk. And in the shadows, a woman lies dead.

As the flood waters rise, Connie Gifford is marooned in a decaying house with her increasingly tormented father. He drinks to escape the past, but an accident has robbed her of her most significant childhood memories. Until the disturbance at the church awakens fragments of those vanished years . . . 

My Take

This is not a novel for the faint hearted: gothic and gruesome.

Something that she barely remembers, a fall down some stairs over a decade ago, has robbed Connie Gifford of her memory, and left her in "delicate" health, with occasional petit mal seizures. About the same time as her accident her father lost his taxidermy business and Cassie, an older girl whom she vaguely remembers, disappeared from her life. She thinks Cassie may have died.

The book opens at midnight on 24th April 1912, at the Church of St Peter & St Mary in the Fishbourne Marshes of Sussex. This is the Eve of St. Mark when the ghosts of those destined to die in the coming year will be seen walking into the church at the turning of the hour. Connie has followed her father to the church and sees him meeting some men whom he knows. They are looking for someone Is she here? and as the bell begins to toll, the door of the church is flung wide, and a cloud of small birds flies out. No-one sees the murder take place. A week later a body floats up in the marshes.

Connie has learnt the art of taxidermy from her father and at times produces stuffed birds for sale. So there are descriptions of her at work, which helps the reader understand later events in the novel.

Connie's father has kept a secret since the night of Connie's accident, a secret that involves the four men who have met him in the church yard. An event that has occurred in the previous week holds out the promise that their secret may remain buried forever, but only her father suspects that what they have been told is not true. And is the secret still safe with him?

This novel has a very black feel about it - there is a lot of darkness, a lot of rain. Gradually we are able to piece the puzzle together.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Kate Mosse is the author of six novels & short story collections, including the No 1 multi-million selling Languedoc Trilogy - Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel - and No 1 bestselling Gothic fiction including The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist's Daughter, which she is currently adapting for the stage. Her books have been translated into 37 languages and published in more than 40 countries. She has also written three works of non-fiction, four plays and is curating a collection of short stories inspired by Wuthering Heights to celebrate the 200 anniversary of Emily Bronte's birth in 2018. Her documentary on the writer & classicist Helen Waddell will be broadcast by the BBC in 2018.
A champion of women's creativity, Kate is the Founder Director of the Women's Prize for Fiction - the largest annual celebration of women's writing in the world - and sits on the Executive Committee of Women of the World. She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to literature and women and was named Woman of the Year for her service to the arts in the Everywoman Awards. Deputy Chair of the National Theatre in London, Kate hosts the pre & post performance interview series at Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex, Platform Events for the National Theatre in London, as well interviewing writers, directors, campaigners and actors at literary and theatre festivals in the UK and beyond.
Kate divides her time between Chichester in West Sussex and Carcassonne in the southwest of France. She is now working on the next novel in 'The Burning Chambers' series, The City of Tears - set in Paris, La Rochelle and Amsterdam - for publication in May 2020.

11 March 2018

Review: ON THE JAVA RIDGE, Jock Serong

  • this edition published by Text Publishing 2017 
  • ISBN 9781925498394
  • 312 pages
  • source: my local library 
Synopsis (Text Publishing)

Shortlisted for the Indie Awards 2018

On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a federal election looms and a hardline new policy on asylum-seekers is being rolled out.

Not far from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers on board fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.

My Take

It is a week to the Australian Federal election, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Border Security are emphasising the success of the government's policy on boat asylum seekers. Arrivals in Australian waters are almost unknown because all boats heading for Australia are being processed by the Indonesian authorities. Surveillance of Australian waters has been outsourced and the Australian  Navy will now take no action to assist asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Two boats, very similar in design, but one much better equipped, are heading towards Australia through Indonesia. One is a surf charter boat containing Australian tourists looking for big waves to surf and the other is an Indonesian fishing boat filled with Middle Eastern refugees. That these two boats will meet is an inevitable part of the plot.

Predictably part of the plot is about how the government's new hardline policy will impact on both these boats, but my wildest dreams did not predict the ending.

The book raises some interesting scenarios among them an explanation of why so few boats have reached Ashmore Reef recently. The Prime Minister sees Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, as a weak link, a loose cannon, although his hold on his own seat is thought to be better than that of the Prime Minister. Interesting insights into the workings of the Australian Cabinet.

My rating: 5.0

Also reviewed by Bernadette

I've also reviewed

8 March 2018


  • this edition published by Hatchette Australia, 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-3656-1
  • 425 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Books bring them together - but friendship will transform all of their lives. Five very different women come together in this Top Ten bestseller, set in the Northern Territory of the 1970s, by an exceptional new Australian author


In 1978 the Northern Territory has begun to self-govern. Cyclone Tracy is a recent memory and telephones not yet a fixture on the cattle stations dominating the rugged outback. Life is hard and people are isolated. But they find ways to connect.

Sybil is the matriarch of Fairvale Station, run by her husband, Joe. Their eldest son, Lachlan, was Joe's designated successor but he has left the Territory - for good. It is up to their second son, Ben, to take his brother's place. But that doesn't stop Sybil grieving the absence of her child.
With her oldest friend, Rita, now living in Alice Springs and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and Ben's English wife, Kate, finding it difficult to adjust to life at Fairvale, Sybil comes up with a way to give them all companionship and purpose: they all love to read, and she forms a book club.
Mother-of-three Sallyanne is invited to join them. Sallyanne dreams of a life far removed from the dusty town of Katherine where she lives with her difficult husband, Mick.
Completing the group is Della, who left Texas for Australia looking for adventure and work on the land.
If you loved THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, THE LITTLE COFFEE SHOP OF KABUL and THE THORN BIRDS you will devour this story of five different women united by one need: to overcome the vast distances of Australia's Top End with friendship, tears, laughter, books and love.

My Take

N.B. Not crime fiction! I'm not sure how you categorise this one - romance, Australian life, remote Australia.

Somebody recommended it to me as it is to do with a book group, and I belong to 3. It covers the lives of 5 book group participants over four calendar years 1978-1981, A range of quite traumatic things happen to these women over that time, but their book group binds them together in friendship and support.

It raises some interesting issues: dealing with living in remote Australia, inter racial relations, family bonds, domestic violence, women's support groups, moving on after trauma and so on. The characters are well drawn and really lived for me. The demands and effects of outback life are well depicted.

The book group reads a number of books that you might be familiar with and the author gives reasons why she chose them: THE THORN BIRDS, LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, THE FAR PAVILIONS, THE HARP IN THE SOUTH, MY BRILLIANT CAREER, and A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE. In the final pages of the book she provides some discussion questions relating to issues and incidents in the book.

Worth considering.

My rating: 4.4

About the author:
Sophie Green is an author and publisher who lives in Sydney. She has written several fiction and non-fiction books, some under other names. In her spare time she writes about country music on her blog, Jolene. She fell in love with the Northern Territory the first time she visited and subsequent visits inspired the story in THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE FAIRVALE LADIES BOOK CLUB, a Top Ten bestseller.

1 March 2018


  • this edition published by Abacus, 2017
  • translated from French by Simon Pare
  • ISBN 978-0-349-14222-7
  • 292 pages
Synopsis ( Abacus)

An heart-warming story of romance and adventure - and a return to France - from the internationally bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP (600,000 copies sold worldwide)
Marianne Messman longs to escape her loveless marriage to an uncaring husband - an artillery sergeant major named Lothar. On a day trip to Paris, Marianne decides to leap off the Pont Neuf into the Seine, but she is saved from drowning by a homeless man. While recovering in hospital, Marianne comes across a painting of the tiny port town of Kerdruc in Brittany and decides to try her luck on the coast.

In Kerdruc, Marianne meets a host of colourful characters who all gravitate around the restaurant of Ar Mor (The Sea). It is this cast of true Bretons who become Marianne's new family, and among whom she will find love once again. But with her husband looking to pull her back to her old life, Marianne is left with a choice: to step back into the known, or to take a huge jump into an exciting and unpredictable future.

My take

A departure from my usual crime fiction reading.

Marianne's decision to leave the restaurant where she and her husband are dining while on a tour bus visiting Paris takes her husband by surprise but he makes no attempt to follow her. At 60 and childless Marianne feels her life has been a series of failures, as is her attempt to commit suicide by jumping off the Pont Neuf into the Seine.

She eventually finds her way to a small town on the coast where she meets a group of people willing to accept her as she is. There she finds she has a number of skills which these people appreciate.

This is a delightful read, with some touches of mystery, comedy and irony. It felt like taking a holiday.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Born in 1973, Nina George is a journalist and the author of numerous bestselling novels, which have been translated into several languages. The Little Paris Bookshop was a phenomenal top five bestseller in Germany and is set to be published around the world. She is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Hamburg.

Pick of the Month February 2018

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2018
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 February 2018, 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 -
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.


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