Review: MURDER IN MURLOO, Brigid George

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • Series: Dusty Kent Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (March 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781508739258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1508739258
  • ASIN: 1508739250

Synopsis (Amazon)

When a popular young woman is strangled in her home in the seaside village of Murloo, the residents are sure an itinerant surfer who disappeared after the murder is the killer. However, one year later the surfer is still missing and the killer’s identity remains a mystery.

The victim’s family call in investigative journalist Dusty Kent who has an impeccable record in solving the cold cases she writes about. Dusty’s determination to investigate unresolved crime is fuelled by a personal connection through her own family tragedy.

However, this case tests Dusty to the limit and she despairs of ever catching the callous killer who seems to be lurking nearby and yet…A gripping mystery imbued with the ambience of Australia—from the mysterious wood carving found with the body, the captivating characters of a small town, to the coastal splendour of the Southern Ocean.

Murder in Murloo is a classic who-dun-it introducing Dusty Kent written by JB Rowley and published under the pseudonym Brigid George.

My Take

Journalist Dusty Kent is investigating the unsolved murder of Gabby Peters one year after the event, telling everyone she is writing a book. Together with recent arrival from Ireland Sean O’Kelly who is a super “online” hacker and sleuth, she interviews the entire town, trying to find out where everybody was when Gabby was killed.  The method produces an overwhelming amount of information including some which the residents did not reveal to the police at the time when they were first interviewed.
The local police warn Dusty off, telling her she is stirring up trouble, muddying their own investigation. But Dusty has a contact in the police force who she talks to from time to time.

Dusty’s methodology also has the effect of giving the reader a bewildering amount of data to sift through.
The setting is close to a surfing beach on the southern coast of Victoria.
In classic Poirot style Dusty holds a gathering where she reveals the murderer, and other surprising facts come to light too.

An interesting start to what is now a series of 4 novels, in which O’Kelly appears to act as Dusty’s Watson, recording the cases in his diary.

I read this book on my Kindle but now can’t find the Kindle version on Amazon.com.

My rating: 4.0

About the author

Brigid George is the pseudonym of JB Rowley; author of Amazon #1 Bestsellers ‘Whisper My Secret’ and ‘Mother of Ten’. JB also writes children’s stories such as ‘Wilhelmina Woylie’ and writes the Dusty Kent Murder Mystery series (starting with ‘Murder in Murloo’) under the pen name Brigid George.

Advertisements

Review: THE LOST MAN, Jane Harper

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 574 KB
    Print Length: 352 pages
    Publisher: Macmillan Australia (October 23, 2018)
    Publication Date: October 23, 2018
    Sold by: Macmillan
    Language: English
    ASIN: B07CST7DYT
  • author website

Synopsis (Amazon)

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last chance for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

My take

Here really is an Australian author to keep your eye on.

In this novel she has captured so well the harshness of the Australian outback. The challenges of life on an outback station. The way that in a small community where everyone knows everything, some small incident, that might get lost in the city, damages reputations and blights life for decades. The way that genetics and the harsh environment create character traits that are passed on from one generation to another.

It is a book with lots of little mysteries, because in this fractured family no-one really says what they think, because they are afraid. Why is Nathan Bright living in isolation on a small hopeless holding which is never going to amount to anything? Why hasn’t he spoken to his younger brothers for over six months? Did someone kill Cameron or did he die of natural causes? Why is his car 9 km away from his body?

This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
It is a stand-alone so you don’t have to read her earlier books, but I guarantee you will look for them.

My rating: 5.0

I’ve also read
4.7, THE DRY
5.0, FORCE OF NATURE

About the author (author website)

Jane Harper is the author of international bestsellers The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man. Her books are published in more than 35 territories worldwide.

Jane has won numerous top awards including the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year and the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year. Film rights for The Dry  have been acquired by Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight. She spent six years in Boronia, Victoria, and during that time gained Australian citizenship.

Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury.On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Times in County Durham.Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008.

She worked first on the Geelong Advertiser, and in 2011 took up a role with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition.That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, breaking through with The Dry at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in 2015.

Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter.

Review: THE ONES YOU TRUST, Caroline Overington

Synopsis (publisher)

Emma Cardwell, celebrity mum and host of top-rating morning TV show Cuppa, seems to have it all: fame, money and a gorgeous family. But when her little girl disappears from day-care – captured on CCTV footage at a nearby shopping centre leaving with someone Emma has never seen before – her world is turned upside down.

As the minutes tick by, and pressure mounts, every part of Emma’s life comes under examination. Is this a kidnapping, the work of a crazed stalker, or an obsessed fan? Is
somebody out for revenge or is this something closer to home?

And there is the aching question: how much do we really know about those who
care for our children . . . and about the people we love?

My Take

When Emma arrives home after a long day she finds that her husband has forgotten to collect their young daughter from child care. But it is now 8 pm so where is Fox? Why hasn’t anybody from the child care centre contacted her?

The police are called in and despite their best efforts to keep the news low key the television station that Emma works for takes over the management of the publicity. Fox’s disappearance turns out to be a publicity bonanza as PJ, Emma’s colleague on the morning show, head up a live presentation that focusses on Fox’s recovery.

The book has the reader guessing who has been responsible for the kidnapping, perhaps even Emma herself, and the story twists and turns almost unpredictably. I certainly didn’t forsee the final explanation.

The story takes an almost cynical look at what goes on in the television industry to keep programmes alive, presenters attractive and popular, and fresh stories coming.

My rating: 4.7

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

Review: SCRUBLANDS, Chris Hammer

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2387 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (July 25, 2018)
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B079Z1VHZL

Synopsis (Amazon)

In an isolated (Australian) country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and  dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

My Take:

This novel surprised me with the complexity of the plot.  It weaves a number of contemporary threads into the narrative. Some of these are revealed only as Martin Scarsend begins to investigate the ongoing impact of the tragic events that took place in Riversend nearly a year earlier.

Scarsend himself is “damaged goods” but his boss has sent him to write a human interest story which will perhaps help him get over the trauma he has suffered. Nothing prepares him for the heat of the drought stricken town and for the fact that no-one can tell him why the priest shot five locals.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Christopher Hammer lives in Australia and has been a journalist for over twenty-five years. He has been an international correspondent, the chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, and a senior political journalist for The Age.

Review: DEAD HEAT, Peter Cotton

  • this edition published by Scribe Publications 2018
  • #2 in the Darren Glass series
  • source: review copy from publisher
  • ISBN 978-1-923713-42-8
  • 299 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

Detective Darren Glass is back, and the stakes are higher than ever.

When the battered body of a young Aboriginal woman washes up onto a beach at Jervis Bay, Australian Federal Police Detective Darren Glass is brought in from Canberra to investigate. Glass quickly ties the murder to the disappearance of a sailor from the nearby naval base, and is forced to partner up with a senior intelligence officer from the Royal Australian Navy.

Together they follow the trail of evidence to the red heart of Australia, where a confrontation with outlaw bikies and Aboriginal activists proves deadly. As the body count mounts and foreign links emerge, the conspiracy at the heart of the case becomes a threat to Australia’s national security, as well as regional peace.

My take

This thriller can hold its head up on the international stage. Cotton spins a plausible tale, with Australia the object of fine balance in international politics and under threat from its neighbours.

A dead body on territory theoretically under the jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Police sparks an investigation. The AFP detective Darren Glass finds that he is not actually in control, and will be shadowed by someone appointed by the Navy. In the background is the story of his girlfriend Jean a journalist who has disappeared in upheavals in Indonesia.

A second theme is the underlying resentment that Aboriginal activists are harbouring against the white domination.

This novel brings together current themes in the Australian psyche.

My rating: 4.6

I’ve also reviewed 4.8, DEAD CAT BOUNCE

About the author

Review: BALLAD FOR A MAD GIRL, Vikki Wakefield

  • this edition published by Text Publishing 2017
  • 309 pages
  • ISBN 9781925355291
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain.

The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.

As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined—all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.

Everything about her is changing—her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?

My Take

Grace Foley believes that a girl, Hannah Holt, who disappeared 23 years ago has contacted her and wants her to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Grace’s own mother, killed as she was crossing a road two years ago, was in Hannah’s class at school so Grace feels a connection.

Grace has never fully got over her mother’s death. Other teenagers suggest that Grace’s mother committed suicide by deliberately walking into the path of the truck. Grace’s father then gave up their farm and they moved into town. Things have never seemed right for Grace ever since.

This is a challenging YA crime fiction novel as Grace kicks against her life. Set in a fictional Australian rural town (Victoria I think). Compelling reading.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Vikki Wakefield’s first YA novel, All I Ever Wanted, won the 2012 Adelaide Festival Literary Award for YA Fiction, as did her second novel, Friday Brown, in 2014. Friday Brown
was also an Honour Book at the Children’s Book Council of Australia, in
2013, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards.
Vikki’s third novel, Inbetween Days, was Highly Commended in the
2016 Barbara Jefferis Award, was a 2016 CBCA Honour Book and was
shortlisted for the 2016 Prime Minister’s Awards. Vikki lives in the
Adelaide foothills with her family.

Review: REDEMPTION POINT, Candice Fox

  • this edition published in Bantam 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-14378-188-2
  • 410 pages
  • Author website

Synopsis (Author website)

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting 13-year-old Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out – and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation – complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to
‘assist’ on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts – and a keen eye for killers . . .

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards – but it may well cost them their lives . . .

My take

This is a sequel to the earlier book CRIMSON LAKE when Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell first joined in partnership, so I would really recommend reading the two books in order.

Ted is still determined to track down the man who abducted Claire Bingley and so caused Ted’s dismissal from the police force, his marriage break up, and his estrangement from his small daughter.  But media interest in Ted’s story is still high and he is approached to appear on an Australia -wide television show, ostensibly to give his side of the story. A podcast is keeping Justice for Ted alive as its central theme.

Ted and Amanda are asked to work with local police and the inexperienced DI Sweeney to work out who murdered the bartenders at the Barking Frog Inn.

There are several “voices” telling the story in this novel – Ted’s, Amanda’s, Pip Sweeney’s, and a diary which has been begun as a therapy journal. The identity of the writer does not become obvious until the novel is well underway.

My rating: 4.7

I’ve also read
5.0, HADES 
4.3, EDEN
4.6, CRIMSON LAKE

Review: THE OTHER WIFE, Michael Robotham

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • published June 26 2018
  • File Size: 642 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (June 26, 2018)
  • Publication Date: June 26, 2018
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0791HFG73
  • #9 in Joe O’Loughlin series
  • author website

Synopsis (author website)

Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

A mesmerising psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today, Michael Robotham, the international bestselling author of THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS.

My Take

Joe O’Loughlin has always found his father a bit “distanced” but never imagined that there was a side to his life that Joe did not know about. What a shock!

Once Joe calms down a bit he begins to understand that there are lots of things about his father that he has either ignored or simply not understood at the time. He begins his investigation with the help of his old friend Vincent Ruiz.

As always, I am very reluctant to reveal more elements of the plot. In fact the blurb tells you all you need to know.

While this is #9 in the Joe O’Loughlin books it can be read, I think, as a stand-alone, but it will send you scurrying back into the series for more.

Well done Michael. I love it!

My rating: 5.0

I’ve also read
BOMBPROOF
SHATTER #3
SHATTER (audio)
BLEED FOR ME #4
5.0, THE WRECKAGE #5
4.8, SAY YOU’RE SORRY #6
5.0, WATCHING YOU #7
4.8, IF I TELL YOU… I’LL HAVE TO KILL YOU (edit)
5.0, LIFE OR DEATH Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Gold Dagger
4.8, CLOSE YOUR EYES
5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS
5.0, THE SUSPECT #1 (audio)
4.8, LOST #2 (audio) 

Review: THE RUIN, Dervla McTiernan

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 704 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (February 19, 2018)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2018
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0758ZBY2K

Synopsis (Amazon)

Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget. Two silent, neglected children – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack – are waiting for him at a crumbling country house. Upstairs, their mother lies dead.

Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib. At first it
looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation’s findings – and the integrity of the police. Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career – what links the two deaths, two decades apart? As he navigates
his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust.

What really did happen in that house where he first met Maude and Jack? The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t.

My Take

Cormac Reilly has recently moved back to Galway from a top notch crime unit in Dublin. But he is finding it hard to fit in. Others at the station turn their backs on him, or try to score points at his expense. He is assigned to routine enquiries into cold cases, well below his level of experience. Then an apparent suicide turns out to be someone from his early days as a Garda. Coincidentally, it seems, he is assigned to the cold case twenty years before where he first met Jack Blake, the young man who has just died in the River Corrib.

It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, it is written with such assurance of tone. The plotting is clean with quite a number of well developed strands, while the characterisation is excellent, and relationships between characters well explored. I liked the linking between cold cases and current ones, with a clear indication of the role modern technologies can play – not just DNA but apps like Google Timeline.

An author’s note at the end tells readers there is a second novel to be released in 2019. I certainly look forward to seeing it.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Dervla McTiernan was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and then practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband
and two children. In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This gave her the confidence to complete her first novel, The Ruin.

Review: TRULY MADLY GUILTY, Liane Moriarty

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

What’s meant to be a relaxed backyard barbeque splits apart a group of friends who can’t change what they did and didn’t do that sunny afternoon.

Marriage, sex, parenthood and friendship: Liane
Moriarty takes these elements of our lives and shows us how guilt can expose the fault lines in any relationship, and it is not until we appreciate the fragility of life that we can truly value what we have.

  • Long-listed for Indie Book Awards 2017.
  • Short-listed for ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2017.

My Take

My first reaction is that this is not crime fiction, but there is plenty of mystery, puzzles that the reader wants to solve.

There are 3 couples at the backyard barbeque, 3 children from two of the families and a childless couple. The scope of the book then extends to a grumpy next door neighbour and the parents of two of the couples. The first mystery is what happened at the barbeque, what caused it, and also what preceded it.  This mystery results in plenty of tension. So I’m not going to tell you what happened at the barbeque – that would spoil the story for you. One of the characters is going around giving talks about her experience at the barbeque, but what happened?

The second focus of the book is definitely relationships, things people say and do not say, things people do. Some of these relationships have been built on over decades, and perspectives on their nature vary from character to character.

The result is, from my point of view, a very long book, and perhaps at times I was guilty of speed reading, but as you can see from my rating, I did enjoy it.

My Rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.6, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET
4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES