31 July 2022

Review: THE WHISPERING, Veronica Lando

Synopsis (publisher)

The whispering wild will take your child if you dare to look away ...

The stunning Aussie crime debut from the winner of the 2021 Banjo Prize for Fiction.

Callum Haffenden swore he'd never return to Granite Creek. But, thirty years after a life-shattering accident, he's thrust back into the clutches of Far North Queensland and a local legend he worked hard to forget.

When a man goes missing in the rainforest, the past begins to resurface, breathing new life into memories of previous tragedies - two girls lost, seventeen years apart. In a town where it's easiest to turn a blind eye, the guilt runs deep and everyone in Granite Creek has something to hide.

In his search for answers, Callum fights to keep his feet firmly on the trail as he battles the deafening call of the rainforest burrowing into his ears. After all, everyone knows that the worst things in the rainforest are those unseen.

My Take

There are plenty of mysteries for the reader to unwrap in this very recently published debut title.

Callum Haffenden is a journalist from Tasmania but that is not why he has returned to Granite Creek in the Far North Queensland rainforest. It is where he grew up, his mother a town doctor, and his father a policeman. Thirty years ago he left, taken south by an air ambulance and he swore never to return. But a man has gone missing at a dangerous place in the rainforest and Callum comes north to uncover the truth.

So we have the mystery of what happened to Callum thirty years before, who the girls were who have been lost in the forest seventeen years apart, who the latest missing person is, and why there is such antipathy between Callum and at least one of the town's residents.

Woven through the story is the rhyme which is meant to keep children out of the forest especially when the wind whistles through the boulders and the tree tops.

The mysteries keep you reading until the very end, and uncovering even more mysteries.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Veronica Lando is an Australian crime author who won the 2021 Banjo Prize for her then-unpublished manuscript The Whispering.

As a child, she grew up above her parents' Melbourne bookstore, surrounded by other people's stories. Now, as an adult, she lives in Queensland and enjoys using the uniquely wild and sometimes dangerous landscapes of the far north to shape her writing.

In 2020, she placed in the Scarlet Stiletto awards and has since had short stories published in anthologies with both Sisters in Crime Australia and the Queensland Writers' Centre.

Veronica currently lives in Townsville with her husband and three children.

27 July 2022

Review: THE MURDER RULE, Dervla McTiernan

Synopsis (publisher)

For fans of the compulsive psychological suspense of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a mother daughter story—one running from a horrible truth, and the other fighting to reveal it—that twists and turns in shocking ways, from the internationally bestselling author of The Scholar and The Ruin.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They're wrong. I’m going to bury him.

My Take

Hannah Rokeby finds a way to blackmail her way into the Innocence Project being conducted by the Law faculty of the University of Virginia despite the fact that the official application period has concluded and candidates have already been chosen. The Innocence Project works with death row prisoners and others who appear to have been wrongfully convicted. Initially the Associate Professor in charge of the Innocence Project tells her that applications are closed but then Hannah reminds him of some "personal mentoring" that he gave to a female student, and he agrees to meet with her.

Hannah's determination wins her a place on the project, but unlike most other students who are there to prove a convicted criminal's innocence, Hannah is there to prove someone's guilt and to impede the project. Hannah has been primed for this role by her mother's diary which she believes proves that this particular criminal killed her father. This is not the crime for which he is on death row.

Normally students new to the Innocence Project would work only on entry level cases until they were able to prove their abilities at research, but Hannah is able to put the project director into a position where he can't ignore her.

This new stand-alone thriller by McTiernan takes us into an area of US law that most of us would not be familiar with. I wasn't entirely convinced that the sequence of events in the latter pages of the story were credible, but certainly the plot held together, and the characters were believable.   A clever piece of writing.

My rating: 4.6

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24 July 2022

Review: A JUST PUNISHMENT, G.R. Jordan

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 8
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08L82JBTF
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (November 23, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 220 pages 

Synopsis  (Amazon)

A former convict, hung, drawn and quartered. Macleod called by name for his former actions. Can the Lewis detective find the righter of wrongs before the killer executes those close to Macleod?

As his partner recovers from a devastating accident, Macleod faces a hidden face from his past who is determined to see justice truly done. But as the killer punishes each justifiable victim, Macleod feels the target of the attacks is moving coming closer to home. In a devastating finale, Macleod must rely on his younger Sergeant, Hope McGrath, more than he has ever before.

The pain you deal will be visited upon you tenfold!

My Take

This story is set around Inverness, but its origins go back one of the first arrests that Mcleod ever made. He rescued a person accused of perpetrating child abuse from a mob. The man was convicted and sentenced to jail. He was recently released but someone believes he was not sufficiently punished.  A card with the body indicates that the vigilante believes that Mcleod was responsible for the inadequate punishment. 

More incidents occur: bodies that have been subjected to bizarre almost medieval punishments, and the incidents seem to be getting closer to Mcleod himself. As the story reaches its climax McGrath is fighting against time to discover who perpetrator is, before the action gets to Mcleod's own doorstep.

You will probably, like me, solve the mystery ahead of McGrath but that didn't really lessen the tension.

My rating: 4.6 

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Review: A PERSONAL AGENDA, G. R. Jordan

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 7
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08HQG9GML
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (October 20, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 224 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

When terrorist attacks occur in the West of Scotland, Macleod and McGrath work amidst the multitude of agencies to uncover the organisation behind it. But just as Macleod makes a startling revelation, a crisis at home removes him from the team. With the country’s agencies chasing down a blind alley, can newly promoted DS McGrath pull her team together and stop one final killing?

There’s no wilder face of terror than the one with a personal agenda!

My Take

I have really developed a liking for this series. MacLeod and McGrath have come a long way from the first in the series, and I strongly recommend reading them in order, so that you see the full character development, as well as the way new members are added to the team.

The action begins with a small cruise ship taking holiday makers down the Caledonian Canal, along Loch Ness, and through Fort Augustus before arriving at a breath-taking series of locks known as Neptune's Staircase. A sniper picks off a German tourist and a couple of other passengers. Some investigators are later inclined to think the lone gunman is an Irish terrorist but who would target Scotland? 

From the beginning McLeod believes the agenda is more personal but as more incidents occur, the bombing of the bridge to Skye, and then an incident with a bow and arrow, the Irish terrorist paramilitary theory gains more credence. 

The case is challenging for McLeod's team, and then becomes more so when he has to rush home after an incident that puts his partner in hospital, and McGrath has to take over.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read

20 July 2022

Review: BEFORE YOU KNEW MY NAME, Jacqueline Bublitz

  • This edition made available through my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen & Unwin (4 May 2021) 
  • 336 pages
  • Longlisted CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year 2022 AU; Longlisted Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, ABIA Awards 2022 AU; Longlisted General Fiction Book of the Year, ABIA Awards 2022 AU; Shortlisted MUD Literary Prize 2022 AU; Longlisted Dublin Literary Award 2022 IR
  • Read the Opening Chapter

Synopsis (publisher)

This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city's latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice's body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life - and death. And Ruby - struggling to forget what she saw that morning - finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn't ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

My Take

We know from the first page of this novel that the narrator will die in this city, New York. Alice Lee arrives on a bus on her 18th birthday. She has an address to go to, Noah whom she found online, and with whom she has booked two weeks accommodation. So the first mystery is to find out the circumstances in which she dies. It is fairly clear that she is murdered. 

The second character we meet is Ruby Jones, 36 year old Australian from Melbourne, trying to re-establish her life. So the first half of the book is spent in fleshing out these characters, and exploring what they are making of their lives.

It is a little over 30% of the way through the book that Ruby discovers Alice's body and her life is changed forever. Ruby feels that she cannot rest until she discovers who killed Alice. Without her knowledge, Alice is helping her.

There! I am not going to tell you anymore! I hope I haven't spoilt the story for you, but I don't think I have told you any more than the publisher's blurb did. Along the way we think a lot about the vulnerability of women and girls.

This novel reminded me strongly of THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Seebold. That was published in 2002.

From Wikipedia:
It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being raped and murdered, watches from her personal Heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her own death. The novel received critical praise and became an instant bestseller. A film adaptation, directed by Peter Jackson, who personally purchased the rights, was released in 2009. The novel was also later adapted as a play of the same name, which premiered in England in 2018.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Kiwi. Melburnian. Aunt. Lover of rain, red wine, key changes and New York. Writer of books that explore love, loss, and connection. Book Two coming soon!
Jacqueline 'Rock' Bublitz is a writer, feminist, and arachnophobe, who lives between Melbourne, Australia and her hometown on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. She wrote her debut novel Before You Knew My Name after spending a summer in New York, where she hung around morgues and the dark corners of city parks (and the human psyche) far too often. She is now working on her second novel, where she continues to explore the grand themes of love, loss and connection.

17 July 2022

Review: THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, Sulari Gentill

  • This edition an e-book from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09R41JFYN
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ultimo Press (1 June 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 266 pages

Synopsis (Amazon

‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’
Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library (BPL): four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.
While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…
The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

My Take

I have found this novel very difficult to review without revealing too much of the plot. I would rather leave it so the reader can travel on the same journey that I have.

So we have a cleverly constructed plot within a plot, a novel within a novel, a mystery within a mystery. I suspect that most readers, like me, will find this a challenging read.

So I have written my thoughts in a section below, rather than here, with an appropriate spoiler warning, and still trying not to reveal too much of the novel.

My rating: 4.5


About the Author
After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, SULARI GENTILL now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of Australia.
Gentill's Rowland Sinclair mysteries have won and/or been shortlisted for the Davitt Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and her stand-alone metafiction thriller, After She Wrote Him won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel in 2018. Her tenth Sinclair novel, A Testament of Character, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel in 2021. --This text refers to the paperback edition. 

I've also read


Warning: Might contain spoilers 

Celebrated Australian author Hanna Tigone is in Sydney writing in her latest novel which she sets in the Boston Public Library. Winfred (Freddie) is an Australian writer who has won a Sinclair writer in residence scholarship to live and write in Boston and is living with other scholarship winners in an apartment house at Carrington Square. Among the others living there is another writer in residence named Leo Johnson. 

So we have a cleverly constructed plot within a plot, a novel within a novel, a mystery within a mystery. I suspect that most readers, like me, will find this a challenging read. The story that Freddie is writing is based on a group of people united by a scream. Freddie reveals her story to the others she has met at the BPL and they react enthusiastically, seemingly not realising she will be basing her story on them.

Hannah's novel also begins with the scream. As she completes her written segments she emails her novel off to a fan Leo, who, rather confusingly, is in Boston. Leo provides advice to Hannah about American customs and terminology. Leo talks about the need to give the novel a time frame, to say what colour/race the characters are and so on. He also keeps saying that he intends to come to Sydney to meet Hannah in person. The emails with Leo provide a third plot.

At the end of the novel the author has provided a Reading Group Guide, a set of questions readers might discuss. In the next section A CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR Sulari Gentill reveals some uncanny parallels with the plots of the novel and what was happening in her own life.

I found the discussion between Freddie and the other characters about how she writes her story interesting: she likens the construction to a bus picking up passengers who then determine the direction the action takes. Whereas Cain plots his novel more conventionally, rather like a spider web. 

So after you've read the THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY come back and tell me how you reconciled  its construction.

13 July 2022


  • This edition available as an e-book from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07DP527ZW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bookouture (August 21, 2018)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 288 pages

Synopsis ( Amazon)

Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective?

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Benbury is not as idyllic as it first seemed?

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?

A joy to read! An absolutely unputdownable whodunnit for fans of Agatha Christie, P.D. James and Faith Martin.

This book was previously published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing (published originally in 1990).

My Take

This the first in a series originally published 1990-2004. Crime novelist Melissa Craig flees London, her agent and her over-protective lover, to take refuge in the Cotswolds and produce bestsellers in peace.

The bones of a young woman who had disappeared about two months earlier are found in the woods near Melissa's cottage and she joins with a young journalist to find out the truth behind the murder, on the pretext of researching things for her latest novel. Her journalist friend is full of ideas on how to involve Melissa more deeply in the investigation.

Her research takes her to a ladies daytime strip club, a beauty salon, and eventually to confront the murderer, although she doesn't realise until nearly too late who he is.

Whenever in doubt she thinks about what her sleuth in her books would do.

In the meantime another local is murdered, and Melissa makes friends with a vegetarian living next door.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Betty Rowlands burst onto the crime scene in her mid sixties by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition which shows it's never too late to start writing. Her success continued with her highly acclaimed Melissa Craig mysteries featuring a crime writer who solves mysteries in Gloucestershire. Her second series, The Sukey Reynolds Stories comprise of thirteen books, featuring Sukey Reynolds, a Scenes of Crime Officer who later becomes a detective. She lived in the heart of the Cotswolds, where her Melissa Craig mysteries are set, and then in Bristol which is closer to Sukey Reynolds patch, where she lived until her death on 29 July 2020, just a few months before her 97th birthday. She passed peacefully in the residential home that she called ‘home’. She will be greatly missed by her two surviving children, her four grandchildren, six great grandchildren, other family members, her friends and you, her many readers. The resurgence in interest in her Melissa Craig and Sukey Reynolds books in her last years gave her immense pleasure. She loved to receive emails from her fans knowing that her writing was being so enjoyed. Betty may no longer be with us but Melissa and Sukey are still there solving those mysteries. Keep on reading!

9 July 2022


  • this edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N5D4G7Q
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thriller and mystery (November 9, 2020)
  • Originally published 1999
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 178 pages
  • Dorothy Martin Mysteries, No. 5

Synopsis (Amazon)

Dorothy Martin's wedded bliss could only be improved if her husband didn't have to go gallivanting all over the world, advising local police on new procedure. Dorothy's life could only be improved if she didn't keep stumbling across the recently-and criminally-deceased.

Dorothy Martin of eccentric hat fame finds another dead body in this fifth installment in Dams's successful series (Death in Lacquer Red, etc.). Sixty-something Dorothy, an American who recently married British police officer Alan Nesbitt, resides in the cathedral town of Sherebury. With Alan on business in Africa, Dorothy travels to London only to find that the young American businessman with whom she had chatted earlier has died somewhere along the trip to Victoria Station. When the death is not reported in the papers, Dorothy becomes suspicious, and with the help of Sherebury's resident computer whiz Nigel Evans, she discovers that the young man was the CEO of a rising software company. Dorothy infiltrates the company's London office as a temporary secretary and begins hunting about for the truth. Her tenure in the corporate office flushes out several suspects and coincides with another murder. Dams has always provided clever tales, and Dorothy is quickly becoming popular among mystery fans. Once again, however, there are a few blemishes in an otherwise amiable story. Dorothy's London friends, Americans Tom and Lynn Anderson, are a little too understanding; and Dorothy is yet another cloyingly spry senior citizen. Although the finale is not especially surprising, it is gratifying. (Sept.) FYI: Dams received the Agatha Award for her first Dorothy Martin mystery, The Body in the Transept. 

My Take

This novel is set about 4 months or so after the last MALICE IN MINIATURE. At the end of that novel Dorothy broke her leg and this novel begins with her travelling to London on the train for her last appointment with her Harley St. specialist.

On this journey she chats to a young American business man. As she is about to get off the train at Victoria Station she discovers that the young man has died after drinking a cup of train coffee. Dorothy is anxious to get to her appointment in Harley Street, and a doctor who comes along assures her the man is dead, that he will take care of getting the police, and that she should go. Dorothy is puzzled by the fact that there is no report of the death in the papers, and is assured by the police that no-one has died on the train. Dorothy is convinced that a young man had died, and eventually finds out who he was.

This leads to a most fanciful scenario where Dorothy gets herself a job in the office the young man had been heading to. She gets a computer expert and her London friends to help her in identifying the murderer, searching the offices etc, and eventually sewing the case up.

A really unlikely story with some parts that keep you reading just to find out how everything hangs together. First written in 1999, I thought Dams spent far too much of the book showing us how much she knew about computers and their software. In addition, Dorothy's new husband Alan was again conveniently away. Had he been at home, this investigation would never have got off the ground.

I might not be reading another in this series for a while.

My rating: 4.0

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7 July 2022

Review: THE HOUND OF DEATH and other stories, Agatha Christie

  • This edition published by the Hamlyn Publishing Group in 1972
  • part of the Agatha Christie Crime Collection, pages 345-510 (165 pages)
  • is a collection of twelve short stories by Agatha Christie first published in the United Kingdom in October 1933.

Synopsis (Agatha Christie.com)

Twelve unexplained phenomena with no apparent earthly explanation…

A dog-shaped gunpowder mark; an omen from ‘the other side’; a haunted house; a chilling séance; a case of split personalities; a recurring nightmare; an eerie wireless message; an elderly lady’s hold over a young man; a disembodied cry of ‘murder’; a young man’s sudden amnesia; a levitation experience; a mysterious SOS.

I have read this earlier - see my post.

I am reading this again, this time with my U3A discussion group, so I have decided to ask them each to handle the discussion of a particular story. Below is the wording that I have sent to them:

.. if you could each make some notes on the particular short story assigned to you along the following lines:

  • brief plot summary - don't worry about spoilers - we will have all read it, but we probably need to be reminded of the main narrative, including how it ends.
  • over riding theme -is it crime fiction or something else?
  • how you felt about it - did you enjoy it? - give it a rating out of 5
  • you will have 5 or so minutes to talk about it.

My Take

I have assigned myself  The Red Signal, published June 1924. But here I will be careful about spoilers.

This story is one of the longer ones in the collection. It begins with a discussion of the sixth sense, which the speaker, Mrs Eversleigh, thinks all women have. She is addressing Sir Alington West, a famous alienist, a former term for a psychiatrist. A discussion ensues about the differences between the sixth sense and premonitions. One of the party, Dermot West, talks about "red signals", the feeling that something is not quite right. Sir Alington says that he thinks premonitions often come from within, the subconscious picking up on vibes from other people.

However, even as he talks, Dermot feels that he is picking up a Red Signal, and begins to look for what is giving it to him. If you want to know how this story continues, go down to the bottom of the page.      

My rating: 4.4 

See the other Agatha Christie short stories that I have read. 156 of them.

The continuation of the story - spoiler alert!

Dermot West feels that Sir Alington is focussing in particular on another member of the dinner party, Claire Trent. He himself feels particularly attracted to Claire, really besotted with her, but torn because her husband Jack is his best friend.

After dinner, the group participates in a seance, in which the medium calls a Japanese spirit. A voice comes through the medium advising someone not to go home but nobody is really sure who the advice is directed to. When the medium comes back to normality she says she has the feeling that there is death in the air.

In a discussion afterwards Sir Alington tells Dermot that Claire is not for him. That there is insanity in the family. Dermot assumes the one with insanity is Claire. Claire's husband Jack is his best friend, and actually saved his life back in the war. 

Later that night the police come to Dermot's flat to tell him that Sir Alington has been murdered shortly after Dermot left him. We later discover that the murderer is Jack Trent, that he is the one with insanity, not Claire. He has committed the murder and fudged evidence that will convict Dermot, as he has noticed Dermot's feelings for Claire.

So how did I feel about this story? I guess the theme is that while you might have a premonition, recognise danger signals etc., you might still misinterpret them, just as Sir Alington West did, as he did not imagine that he was the one in danger. So, also, danger signals, premonitions etc. do exist.

In the long run, the story was a bit complicated, maybe too many mini stories. The finale of the story was well disguised. And every one you talk to will say they understand what are meant by danger signals. 

4 July 2022

Review: THE WATERHOLE, Lily Malone

  • this edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09K6C8DZF
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lily Malone Publishing (21 November 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 322 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

Australian author Lily Malone debuts in a darker genre with this small-town mystery/suspense novel. Perfect for readers who love Jane Harper's The Dry.

When a backyard dare to discover the source of a fabled waterhole uncovers human bones, small town detective, Marley West, leaps at the chance to kickstart his stalled career. But it’s more than two decades since developers filled the Cowaramup creek. The woman who owned the land—the Ross family matriarch—has passed away. Relations between her sons, Jack and Bill, are colder than the case.

Then the Ross family learn Marley is the grandson of notorious police sergeant, Alan West, the corrupt cop who once ruled the town with an iron fist.
To solve the case, Marley must gain the trust of three people with no reason to trust each other and less reason to trust him: Bill, who left the love of his life to fight in Vietnam; charismatic Jack, who could always catch the eye of a pretty girl; and city school teacher, Annette, whose move to Cowaramup in 1966 would change the Ross brothers’ lives forever.
As he navigates a tangled web of lies and betrayals, jealousies and murder, Marley has to ask himself: are these bones better left buried? 

My Take

The narrative skilfully shifts between several time frames which I found challenging at first, eventually managed to get it sorted. It begins with the discovery of some bones in an area being established as a new housing subdivision. We meet the police Constable Brigit Winger and Detective Marley West from Busselton Police Station as they travel to the site to view the bones. Marley takes one look and he knows they have a problem.

Eventually they work out that they have two skeletons, one probably much older than the other. The bodies lie where there was once a waterhole, covered in over 20 years before. Some of the story goes back almost 50 years.

The author has done an excellent job of creating characters, developing credible plot lines, and finally revealing the story on several levels. A very engrossing read.

My rating: 4.7

About the Author
Lily Malone might have been a painter, except her year-old son put a golf club through her canvas. So she wrote her first book instead. Lily is the author of the best-selling Australian rural romance series, The Chalk Hill Series, set in the great southern wine region of Western Australia. In 2018 she took the coveted No.1 place in the Amazon Australia Kindle store with her best-selling romance, The Vineyard in the Hills. When she isn't writing, Lily likes gardening, bushwalking, wine, and walking in gardens (sometimes with wine). She loves playing cards and fishing by boat or on the beach. She lives in the Margaret River region of Western Australia with her husband and two handsome sons who take after their father. Lily is a member of Australian and New Zealand Rural Fiction and Australian Fiction Authors. She loves to hear from readers and you can find her on Facebook, and on Twitter: @lily_lilymalone. To contact Lily, email lilymalone@mail.com or visit www.lilymalone.blog

2 July 2022

Review: OFFSHORE, Ann Cleeves

  • this edition made available by my local library through Libby
  • Also listed as Shetland Island #6.1
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Macmillan (1 April 2015). Originally published in 2014.
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 72 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

Offshore is a striking collection of short stories, all set on islands off the coast of the UK, and features cases for both DI Jimmy Perez on Shetland, and DI Willow Reeves on Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

In 'Stranded', set on Hilbre near Liverpool, a young man's first love vanishes. In 'Hector's Other Woman', on Holy Island, we meet a young Vera before she becomes DI Vera Stanhope, and discover how she decides to enter the police force. One of the stories, 'Postcard from Skokholm', is written by Lynne Chitty, winner of Pan Macmillan's Bello imprint's short story competition, who introduces Ann Cleeves' beloved characters George and Molly Palmer-Jones to new readers.

Ann Cleeves deftly captures the spirit of each island setting, and offers us a compelling new collection of mysteries.

The stories include

The Pirate
    Published in the CWA Anthology, Deadly Pleasures (2014)
    Re-published in Offshore
The Spinster
    A story featuring Jimmy Perez, published in OxCrimes, (Profile Books, May 2014)
    Re-published in Offshore
Secrets of Soil
    written in collaboration with forensic soil scientist Lorna Dawson, and featuring Willow Reeves, read by Lesley Hart in front of an audience at the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling, and broadcast on Radio 4 on Sunday 22nd September 2013.
    Published in Offshore (2014)
Hector's Other Woman
    A Vera Stanhope story published in Guilty Consciences, the CWA Anthology, edited by Martin Edwards (Severn House, 2011).
    Re-published in Offshore (2014)
The Soothmoothers
    (read by Marnie Baxter) was first broadcast on April 30th 2010 at 3.30pm, as part of Radio 4's Red Herrings series. You can now read this story (which features Jimmy Perez, of the Shetland murder mysteries) on this web site.
    Re-published in Offshore

My Take

I am a great fan of this author and have read most of the titles in each of her later series.

The stories presented here make quick reading and included a couple that I hadn't read before. I found the inclusion of the first chapter of THIN AIR ( Shetland #6) a little odd. It seems to be there as a promo for the novel which was published later in 2014.

My rating: 4.4 

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1 July 2022

Review: THE ISLAND, Adrian McKinty

  • This edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09NBGXR6L
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Hachette Australia (24 May 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 363 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

a family story unlike any you've read yet.

You should not have come to the island.

You should not have been speeding.

You should not have tried to hide the body.

You should not have told your children that you could keep them safe.

No one can run forever . . .

My Take

Tom has come to Australia from Seattle for a medical conference, bringing with him his new wife Heather and his two children Olivia and Owen. Heather has had a hard time getting onside with the children. After a visit to Alice Springs, they have flown to Melbourne for the conference at which Tom is the keynote speaker. The family is keen to see Australian fauna and they end up on Dutch Island just off the Melbourne coast. Tom is driving a powerful car and ends up hitting and killing a cyclist. Fearful that they will not get off the island, Heather persuades Tom to hide the body. When they are safely off the island they will report the accident to the police. Just as they are about to board the ferry, the family catches up with them..

From that point on, the action is full of suspense, sort of hold-your-breath incredible. The family on Dutch Island are feral, bent on revenge for the death of the cyclist. The family is headed by Ma who is determined that the American tourists are to pay for what they have done, but also that they are not to destroy the lifestyle that she and her family have established.

Written in New York during the pandemic, this is McKinty's second stand-alone. There are aspects that I seriously question the credibility of, but part of me wants to accept the possibilities. An excellent read.

My Rating: 4.6

I've also read

4.2, BELFAST NOIR, Adrian McKinty (ed) and Stuart Neville (ed)


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