The first book in a planned trilogy from Australian crime master Barry Maitland is an absorbing tale that fair rockets along, and shows plenty of promThe first book in a planned trilogy from Australian crime master Barry Maitland is an absorbing tale that fair rockets along, and shows plenty of promise for what is to come.
CRUCIFIXION CREEK is centred on army vet Harry Belltree, the son of a famous aboriginal judge, who's traded the flying bullets of Afghanistan for homicide investigations in Sydney. Harry has some talents as a cop, but also carries plenty of baggage. His parents were killed in a car crash that blinded his wife. He thinks there was something sinister, although it was ruled an accident and his friends and family think he's obsessive.
Sydney is a big city like any other - packed to the gunnels with people trying to scrabble for the best life they can. Some of its citizens have no compunction crossing the legal line to better their own situation, even at the expense of others' lives. So a meth-addled biker gunning down a woman during a siege, an elderly couple deciding they've had enough and committing suicide, and a tradesman being stabbed one night are terrible but not particularly peculiar incidents. Just the everyday crime that gives Harry and his homicide colleagues their job security.
But when the tradesman turns out to be Harry's brother-in-law, and journalist Kelly Pool thinks the three incidents are all linked to a dodgy financier with a murky past, Harry Belltree needs to call on the soldier in him as much as - or more than - the copper.
CRUCIFIXION CREEK hurtles along very smoothly. Maitland does a great job sucking us into Harry's world, and crafting some depth of character in among all the dark and violent incidents. At times the plotting seems a little linear, but overall the combination of action, characterisation, and setting was very good. I'll certainly read the next in the series. ...more
I was very intrigued by the idea behind Brisbane journalist Belinda Pollard's debut novel - a 'who's the unknown killer in the group' adventure thrillI was very intrigued by the idea behind Brisbane journalist Belinda Pollard's debut novel - a 'who's the unknown killer in the group' adventure thriller set in one of New Zealand's most ruggedly gorgeous national parks: Fiordland. A sort of And Then There Were None in the heart of majestic Lord of the Rings locations. So there was a lot of promise behind the premise, and setting.
Unfortunately, for me, the book only semi-delivered, falling short of what it could have been. At the beginning, I couldn't quite pick what was bothering me. The story starts with a historic day in Queensland, a group of high school friends witnessing a tragedy. Then it kicks forward to Callie Brown, one of those high schoolers but now a successful television journalist, contemplating a long-planned reunion of sorts with those same friends, many of whom she hasn't spoken to in years, in the wilds of southern New Zealand. She's not sure if she, and some of the others, can hack such an arduous adventure trip. Or if she wants to confront some of the longheld mixed feelings she has about some of the others in the party.
It's a good set-up for what could be a great thriller. As the story unfolded however, I found myself regularly pulled out of the tale by bouts of unnatural and over-expository dialogue. Things were laid out for the reader - and not in subtle or subtextual ways - in the characters' conversations. At other times long-simmering misunderstandings were neatly resolved with a few 'confess all' statements that just didn't seem to ring true. The author's hand was evident a lot, rather than things seeming to naturally unfold from the set-up and characters and storylines. Things felt a little 'on the nose' and forced - and subsequently a little 'thin'.
Despite being irritated by this, and other faults, I was intrigued by the story set-up, and Pollard created enough of a 'I want to know what happens' effect, a bit of narrative drive, that I found myself persevering and continuing to turn the pages. I was rewarded as the action picked up, and death(s) were visited upon our intrepid adventurers. There were also some nice descriptions of Fiordland, and ideas of how the wilderness, for all it's phenomenal beauty, can be a very tough and unforgiving place. As those left behind begin to worry about the missing hikers, and we cut between those in town and those in the bush, Pollard did a great job of keeping me hooked on what was happening. I wanted to know how it would turn out.
There are also some interesting themes that arise throughout the story, such as the nexus between media coverage and tragedies, the complications of childhood friendships and secrets withheld, and how we can be quick to (mis)judge those around us. Overall, POISON BAY was a pretty good read that I imagine many readers would enjoy, but for me I was left with a feeling that the pieces were there for something more, and another edit or partial rewrite could have polished it to something really great.
Canadian-Australian Paul E. Hardisty has burst on to the crime scene with this searing tale that digs up the dirt on oil companies operating in ThirdCanadian-Australian Paul E. Hardisty has burst on to the crime scene with this searing tale that digs up the dirt on oil companies operating in Third World countries. Clay Straker is a combat vet working as a hired gun engineering consultant for big oil in Yemen, adapting facts and appeasing locals to keep the dollars rolling in. When his driver and friend is kidnapped by a notorious terrorist, he must investigate the cause of a local sickness to save the life of a man who saved his. Joining forces with an enigmatic journalist, Clay is forced to confront the realities of who he's become, and the powerful people he works for. Hardisty brings Yemen to vivid, sweat-inducing life on the page, crafting a superb thriller, powered by exquisite prose. Evocative and extremely thought-provoking, The Abrupt Physics Of Dying is full of fascinating characters and insights and heralds the arrival of a tremendous new voice who straddles the border between popular thriller and weighty literature....more
A tainted Sydney suburb simmers to vicious life, full of murk and menace, as Detective Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelley returns in PM Newton’s sophomore crime thrilleA tainted Sydney suburb simmers to vicious life, full of murk and menace, as Detective Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelley returns in PM Newton’s sophomore crime thriller. The follow-up to 2010’s brilliant The Old School sees the part-Vietnamese cop struggling to recover from the finale of that book, her body and mind scarred and torn.
A hero in the eyes of the top brass, if not all her colleagues, Nhu is tabbed for light duties as the token Asian officer on a task force investigating Cabramatta’s immigrant population; part of the ‘war on drugs’. Politics, power, and personalities swirl as the cops scramble to investigate a daylight hit on a schoolboy. Violence lurks where the ra choi rule; teenage thieves, drug dealers, and killers roaming the streets. Nhu secretly wants to springboard an investigation towards Old Man Liu, an elderly kingpin long marked for her own vengeance, but instead can barely stay afloat amongst her own wounds, historic and new.
Beams Falling is a superb novel that is as much about trauma and healing, corruption and cleansing, as it is about solving a mystery. World class crime writing, set Downunder. ...more
Run Like Crazy is a very easy-to-read book. Its bite-sized chapters are perfect for picking up and breezing through on a lunch or coffee break, and thRun Like Crazy is a very easy-to-read book. Its bite-sized chapters are perfect for picking up and breezing through on a lunch or coffee break, and there’s plenty to interest readers from a travel, exercise, and life perspective. At times Miller seems to gloss over some things – perhaps due to the requirement to fit all 52 marathons into the book – but overall there is plenty to make a reader smile, laugh, and think. And maybe even get a little inspired to say goodbye to our own comfort zones, and find our own big adventure....more
If you like your crime fiction laced with plenty of laughs, then this caper-style tale set in the Australian Outback could be just your ticket. FormerIf you like your crime fiction laced with plenty of laughs, then this caper-style tale set in the Australian Outback could be just your ticket. Former bank manager Lambert Hampton helped transform the tiny town of Munni-Munni after stumbling across a robbery gang’s stash. Years later, the crims, the cops, a rogue investigator and two hit-men are all chasing the money, converging on the town, causing shenanigans aplenty. Hansen, who grew up in New Zealand, creates an intriguing tale packed with eccentric characters and memorable moments that stay with you long after the final page....more
The ‘godfather of Australian crime writing’, Corris has been penning his acclaimed Cliff Hardy tales for decades. This new instalment sees the aging hThe ‘godfather of Australian crime writing’, Corris has been penning his acclaimed Cliff Hardy tales for decades. This new instalment sees the aging hero in a slump; he’s lost his private eye license and his entire life savings - embezzled by a dodgy financial advisor, who later wound up dead. But then Hardy’s unofficially ‘hired’ by a slick, desperate lawyer to find out whether the embezzler faked his own death; an assignment that has the budding granddad entwined with ethnic gangs and Sydney’s gritty underbelly...more
Robotham writes assuredly, pulling together multiple sub-plots into an engrossing and cohesive read. There is some freshness to the characters and sitRobotham writes assuredly, pulling together multiple sub-plots into an engrossing and cohesive read. There is some freshness to the characters and situations he’s created, particularly O’Loughlin, who makes plenty of missteps despite his best intentions. Some of the violence and subject matter might be too much for some readers, but it’s woven organically into a compelling tale that raises questions and touches on diverse issues ranging from family life to crime and justice. Top quality....more
In BLACK ICE, her third in a series featuring city detective Jill Jackson, Giarratano picks at the scab of Sydney’s murky drugs underbelly; a world whIn BLACK ICE, her third in a series featuring city detective Jill Jackson, Giarratano picks at the scab of Sydney’s murky drugs underbelly; a world where everyone from glamorous A-Listers to addicted streetkids to and vicious gangs, all collide.
The publisher's blurb states: "Living in a run down flat and making unlikely friends Jill sees first hand what devastation the illegal drugs scene can wreak. Jill's sister Cassie has a new boyfriend Christian Worthington. Like her, he is one of the beautiful people of Sydney, rich, good looking, great job, great car and seen in all the right places. He is a high flying lawyer doing pro bono work to keep a drug dealer out of gaol. He is also Cassie's supplier, keeping her supplied with cocaine and ice. When Cassie overdoses and is dumped at the hospital her life begins to spiral out of control. Seren Templeton is just out of Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre. Two years in gaol away from her son for something she didn't do. And now she is ready to get her revenge on the man responsible. Things start to go awry when these worlds collide and Jill and Cassie meet on opposite sides of the law."
I really enjoyed this book, and I found myself enjoying it more and more as it went on. I must admit that initially I wasn't that enamoured with Jackson as a main character - this may have been because I didn't have the full background on her from the first two books of the series, so some of her behaviour seemed a touch eye-rolling/contrived to me, when it may have seemed more organic and believable if I'd known more about her and her past. But Jackson (and Giarratano's writing) really grew on me throughout, and by the end of the book I was keen to read another tale centred on the (overly?) ambitious, complex, and flawed detective.
I particularly liked Giarratano's mix of setting (the gritty urban Australia underbelly), good dialogue, interesting plot, and some unique and memorable characters. BLACK ICE has a real modern, contemporary feel - not just because of the modern lifestyles and drugs involved, but the punchy way in which Giarratano writes, and her fresh evocation of the different layers of Australian drugs culture. Overall Giarratano pens a taut thriller; she excels in bringing the gritty world and her unique characters to life with realism and freshness.
If I have a quibble, it's that at times at times I could see the psychologist in her coming through a little too much, especially when it came to 'excusing' or mitigating the actions of some characters (particularly any female character - whose flaws always seemed to come down to how badly she'd been treated by some man in her past). The consistency of this pulled me out of the story a little at times, as I was left thinking about the author and her approach, rather than being completely and totally involved with the characters and story - you could 'see the author's hand' a little, which isn't a good thing. However, this was a very minor flaw in an otherwise great read.
The freshness of Giarratano's writing, her wonderful scene-setting, her unique characters, and her good plotting, will all bring me back for more. A good read for anyone looking for some very modern and contemporary city-set Australian crime fiction.
ICE STATION, the second novel from Matthew Reilly, is very cheesy and incredibly over-the-top to the point of utter ridiculousness at times, but at thICE STATION, the second novel from Matthew Reilly, is very cheesy and incredibly over-the-top to the point of utter ridiculousness at times, but at the same time still page-turning, exciting, and worth reading if you're after some mindless fun and action.
'Scarecrow' Schofield is a likeable main character, and Reilly brings several plot threads together well in a (very, even overly) action-packed tale set in (and beneath) the frozen wastelands of the Antarctic - a geographic region less travelled by both man and author.
You may have to disengage your brain while reading this, but at the same time you'll probably close the book with a smile on your face (if with tired eyes from rolling them a few times). ...more
Local author Sims’ solid 2007 debut The Shadow Maker introduced readers to criminal profiler Detective Rita Van Hassel, a Melbourne police version ofLocal author Sims’ solid 2007 debut The Shadow Maker introduced readers to criminal profiler Detective Rita Van Hassel, a Melbourne police version of the FBI ‘mind-hunters’ popularised in books such as Silence of the Lambs and hit TV show Criminal Minds.
In this second instalment, Van Hassel finds herself heading to the serene waters and lush rainforest of Whitley, a resort town in tropical north Queensland - but not on holiday. Instead she’s helping local police track down a grisly killer after a severed head found on a beach is followed by the mutilation-murder of a local greens activist. The investigation is complicated by misinformation and interference from an overly-militaristic regime at the nearby US defence base, and ghosts from Van Hassel’s past.
Overall, Sims’ second effort is disappointing. A potentially intriguing setting and storyline – which includes issues such as covert military ops, hackers and surveillance, theology and science, environmental issues, and artificial intelligence – is undone early on by cringe-worthy ‘on the nose’ and expositional dialogue, haphazard plotting and pacing, and cardboard characters that just didn’t grab me.
Perhaps Sims’ hoped readers were already hooked on Van Hassel from his debut – because she really wasn’t set up well as a hero worth following in the early part of this book. The final third improves greatly, but unfortunately many readers may have given up by then. ...more