Review: LYING BESIDE YOU, Michael Robotham

  • this edition published in 2022 by Hachette Australia
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-4815-1
  • 390 pages
  • #3 in the Cyrus Haven series 

Synopsis (publisher)

TWO MISSING WOMEN. ONE WITNESS. SO MANY LIES . . . The brand-new thriller by the number-one bestselling and award-winning master of crime

Twenty years ago, Cyrus Haven’s family was murdered. Only he and his brother survived. Cyrus because he hid. Elias because he was the killer.

Now Elias is being released from a secure psychiatric hospital and Cyrus, a forensic psychologist, must decide if he can forgive the man who destroyed his childhood.

As he prepares for the homecoming, Cyrus is called to a crime scene in Nottingham. A man is dead and his daughter Maya is missing. Then a second woman is abducted . . . The only witness is Evie Cormac, a troubled teenager with an incredible gift: she can tell when you are lying.

Both missing women have dark secrets that Cyrus must unravel to find them – and he and Evie know better than anybody how the past can come back to haunt you . . .

This breathtaking new thriller from the #1 bestselling author will keep you guessing until the very end.

My Take

Michael Robotham handles multiple plot strands with such ease. And even though this is the third in the series we get new insights into both Evie Cormac and Cyrus Haven and their relationship.

Cyrus is not sure whether he can handle his brother Elias coming out of psychiatric hospital and Evie is fearful about what it means for her life as a lodger in Cyrus’s house. For despite the fact that Elias is medicated, he is still not normal.

Meanwhile Cyrus is continuing to work in his usual job, as a forensic psychologist, and Evie observes on the fringes of his work.

An excellent novel.

Readers will ask if they need to read the first two in this particular series – the answer: yes you dobefore you read this one!

My rating: 5.0

About the author

Before becoming a novelist, Michael Robotham was a former feature writer and investigative reporter working in Britain, Australia and America, and with clinical and forensic psychologists as they helped police investigate complex, psychologically driven crimes. His debut thriller, The Suspect, introduced clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and sold more than a million copies around the world. The first of a nine-book series, The Suspect is being adapted for the screen by World Productions (makers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard), starring Aidan Turner. Michael’s standalone thriller The Secrets She Keeps was adapted for TV by Network 10 and the BBC. The second series is out now.

Michael is the only Australian to twice win the UK’s prestigious Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel, for LIFE OR DEATH and GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL as well as the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for WHEN SHE WAS GOOD. His latest Book, LYING BESIDE YOU, is the third book in his bestselling Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac series.

Michael lives in Sydney.

I’ve also read

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Review: ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, Charlotte McConaghy

  • This edition made available via my local library through Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin eBooks (3 August 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 263 pages
  • Book club questions
  •  
    Synopsis (publisher)

    From the author of the international bestseller Migrations comes a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands

    Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team tasked with reintroducing fourteen grey wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but a broken Aggie, too. However, Inti is not the woman she once was, and may be in need of rewilding herself.

    Despite fierce opposition from the locals, Inti’s wolves surprise everyone by thriving, and she begins to let her guard down, even opening up to the possibility of love. But when a local farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, she makes a reckless decision to protect them, testing every instinct she has.

    But if her wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will she do when the man she’s been seeing becomes the main suspect?

    Propulsive and spellbinding, Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable tale of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves. Part thriller, part redemptive love story, Charlotte McConaghy’s profoundly affecting novel will stay with you forever. 

    My Take

    In places where there were once trees, the forests are gone. The world has lost countless species of wildlife, largely in our lifetimes. In places where there were once wolves, there are now none. In hunting down or chopping one down, the world’s population has often destroyed the entire ecosystem that it was part of. Re-wilding projects believe that if you can re-instate one part of the system, sometimes the main predator, then you stand a chance of restoring the ecosystem.

    But often the land was cleared, or the predators killed in order to grow another economic enterprise. In Scotland for example the land was cleared and the wolves hunted down to make way for sheep. But destroying that ecosystem has often turned the land barren. The promise is that if we can re-introduce wolves then other things will be restored and nature’s balance will be restored.

    But those whose livelihood depends on the sheep fear the re-introduction of wolves, believing that they will not only attack the sheep but also humans.

    I found the scale of this novel breath taking. Only part of it was concerned crime fiction, with murder, and violence. Much of it was about how humans treat each other. The characters were very real and the scenarios credible. Highly recommended.

    My rating: 4.7

    About the author

    Charlotte McConaghy is the author of the international bestseller Migrations, a TIME Magazine Best Book of the Year and the Amazon.com Best Fiction Book of the Year for 2020, which is being translated into over twenty languages. She has both a Graduate Degree in Screenwriting and a Masters Degree in Screen Arts, and lives in Sydney, Australia. Her forthcoming novel Once There Were Wolves will be published by Flatiron Books in August 2021 in the US and around the world.

    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.

    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

    I’ve also read

    4.8, THE RUIN
    4.8, THE SCHOLAR
    4.8, THE GOOD TURN  

    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
    • WINNER OF THE ABIA AWARD FOR GENERAL FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022
    • 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.

    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

    5.0, A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN
    4.8, A DECLINE IN PROPHETS
    4.8, MILES OFF COURSE
    4.7, PAVING THE NEW ROAD

    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.

    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

    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

    FIFTY GRAND
    4.6, THE COLD COLD GROUND
    4.8, I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET
    4.6, FALLING GLASS
    4.9, IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE
    4.2, BELFAST NOIR, Adrian McKinty (ed) and Stuart Neville (ed)
    4.8, THE CHAIN

    Review: SISTERS OF MERCY, Caroline Overington

    • This edition made available through Libby by my local library

    • Published: 1 November 2012
    • ISBN: 9781742750446
    • Imprint: Random House Australia
    • Format: EBook
    • Pages: 320

    Synopsis (publisher)

    Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington is the haunting crime novel story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

    Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

    Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

    Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

    With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

    With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

    My Take

    I was amazed to find, when I began structuring this review, that I had actually read this book 10 years ago (see my original review here) but I honestly had no recollection of it.

    The main story is told by two main narrators. One is Snow Delaney who is in jail for cruelty to disabled children, and is suspected of having somehow disposed of her missing sister. Snow denies knowing anything about that, but in the the light of what we learn about what she has done to children in her foster care, how reliable is she as a narrator? The other narrator is Jack “Tap” Fawcett, a journalist who has been following the disappearance of Agnes Moore, and with whom Snow begins a correspondence when she is in jail. In the letters to Fawcett Snow fills in her back story and tries to convince him of her innocence. Fawcett is unequivocal in his belief that Snow has had something to with her sister’s disappearance, but how reliable a narrator is he?

    (Date discrepancy

    Text in the novel
    says John Moore went to Oxford in 1930 at age of 20, and that he was picked
    for the Melbourne Olympics in athletics in 1956. That would make him 46 then. Surely he must have been at Oxford later than that? Something like 1954? 

    Agnes Moore met her husband John in Western Australia in 1958 when she was 17, and she was born in 1940. When she
    disappeared in 2009 she was 69
    .)

    This was an interesting read, particularly the details of how Snow “managed” the “care” of 19 disabled children. It makes you wonder how much based on fact those details are.

    My rating: 4.5

    I’ve also read

    4.4, SISTERS OF MERCY
    4.5, NO PLACE LIKE HOME
    4.7, I CAME TO SAY GOODBYE
    4.5, CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
    4.5, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
    4.7, THE ONES YOU TRUST