Review: WHEN YOU ARE MINE, Michael Robotham

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08BWVTNCQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sphere (24 June 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1021 KB
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 375 pages
  • Best Sellers Rank: 4 in Kindle Store

Synopsis (Amazon)

From the multi-million-copy bestselling author behind THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, a major BBC series, comes a gripping new standalone thriller

Philomena McCarthy has defied the odds and become a promising young officer with the Metropolitan Police despite being the daughter of a notorious London gangster. Called to the scene of a domestic assault, she rescues a young woman, Tempe Brown, the girlfriend of a decorated detective. The incident is hushed up, but Phil has unwittingly made a dangerous enemy with powerful friends.

Determined to protect each other, the two women strike up a tentative friendship. Tempe is thoughtful and sweet and makes herself indispensable to Phil, but sinister things keep happening and something isn’t quite right about the stories Tempe tells. When a journalist with links to Phil’s father and to the detective is found floating in the Thames, Phil doesn’t know where to turn, who to blame or who she can trust.

My take

In the Acknowledgements at the end of this novel, Robotham, after reminding us he has been publishing crime fiction for twenty years, talks about what keeps him writing. 

With each subsequent novel, I have always strived to push myself as a writer, using different tenses, new voices, and dual narratives. This is also one of the reasons that I write occasional standalone novels like WHEN YOU ARE MINE because it challenges me to come up with new characters and to explore new lives.

This is a novel about domestic abuse, toxic friendships and the baggage that all families carry with them.

 And those words so perfectly sum up what keeps me reading his novels too. I know he will always come up with something fresh, even when other writers are touching on the same topics. (I seem recently to have been read a number of novels about toxic friendships for example: GREENWICH PARK by Katherine Faulkner, THE OTHER PASSENGER by Louise Candlish) But there is much more to this novel.

A great read! Well done Michael.

After winning the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel in 2015 for LIFE OR DEATH and then in 2020 for GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL, Michael Robotham has this year (2021) won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller for WHEN SHE WAS GOOD.

If you haven’t yet begun reading him, now is the time to start!

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)
5.0, THE OTHER WIFE

4.8, GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL -#1
4.8, WHEN SHE WAS GOOD -#2  

 

Review: TELL ME LIES, J. P. Pomare

  • this edition published by Hachette in 2020

  • ISBN 9-781869-718619
  • 230 pages

Synopsis (Publisher)

Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children and a successful career.

On a warm spring morning Margot approaches one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train.

Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie cost her family and freedom.

A fast-paced psychological thriller for fans of The Silent Patient.

My Take

It is not just Margot’s clients who lie to her, the success of her entire career has been based on lies, narrowly avoided conflict of interest and compromise.

Margot knows that she is a successful psychologist. She spends much of her time in pigeon-holing her clients, confident that she can help solve their problems. But she doesn’t seem to see behind the facade they present, and she doesn’t realise that at least one of them is stalking her, and just biding his time.

Her own problems seem to begin when her family house is fire-bombed. She thinks that the culprit is one of her clients, but she picks the wrong one. And then her consulting rooms are fire-bombed as well, but her office has been ransacked too, and she realises that the fire-bomber was looking for something.

An interestingly constructed plot, with little problems for the reader to solve along the way. Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.8 

I’ve also read

4.6, IN THE CLEARING
4.8, CALL ME EVIE 

Review: DOOM CREEK, Alan Carter

  • Publisher : Fremantle Press (March 1, 2021)

  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1925816818
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1925816815
  • #2 in the Nick Chester series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Sergeant Nick Chester has dodged the Geordie gangsters he once feared and is out of hiding and looking forward to the quiet life. But gold fever is creating ill feeling between prospectors, and a new threat lurks in the form of trigger-happy Americans preparing for doomsday by building a bolthole in the valley. As tensions simmer, Nick finds himself up against an evil that knows no borders and no depths.

Sequel to MARLBOROUGH MAN

My take

Set in New Zealand, in what should be an idyllic back water, the plot proves that not even New Zealand is safe from the underworld and those who use money to get what they want. Several plot strands intertwine to prevent Nick Chester from focussing just on local issues and local policing. 

I think it helps to have read the first in this series, which I had.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read 4.6, MARLBOROUGH MAN

Review: THE NIGHT WHISTLER, Greg Woodland

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN : B088VKG7Q4

  • Publisher : Text Publishing (4 August 2020)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 4287 KB
  • Print length : 300 pages
  • source: NetGalley

Synopsis (Amazon)

The summer of 1966–7. Hal and his little brother have just come to live in Moorabool. They’re exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but killed.

Not just killed, but horribly maimed.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his big-city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. Like other pets around the town.

He knows what it means when someone tortures animals to death. They’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting late-night phone calls — a man whistling, then hanging up — Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously. But will that be enough to keep her and her young sons safe?

Nostalgic yet clear-eyed, simmering with small-town menace, Greg Woodland’s wildly impressive debut populates the rural Australia of the 1960s with memorable characters and almost unbearable tension.

My Take

There’s something rather Disher-like with this novel, and the underlying theme is not a new one: a demoted city cop sent to the sticks, to rural NSW, to teach him a lesson. The boss at the Moorabool police station doesn’t appreciate this new burden but Goodenough’s is a pair of new eyes, and he realises there are things Bradley, the station boss, has been letting things slide.

Hal’s father hasn’t been telling the truth about his new job either, that he will be on the road a fair bit, leaving his wife and sons to fend for themselves. And then come the phone calls and the messages, and the prowler in the back yard. The police would rather not know – it’s “normal” – but Probationary Constable Goodenough recognises the signs.

A good read.

My rating: 4.6

About the author:
Greg Woodland is an author, screenwriter and director. Since 2000 he’s worked as a freelance script editor and consultant for film funding bodies and the Australian Writers’ Guild. The Night Whistler is his first novel.

Review: THE BURNING ISLAND, Jock Serong

Synopsis (publisher)

A father’s obsession. A daughter’s quest.

Eliza Grayling, born in Sydney when the colony itself was still an infant, has lived there all her thirty-two years. Too tall, too stern—too old, now—for marriage, she looks out for her reclusive father, Joshua, and wonders about his past. There is a shadow there: an old enmity.

When Joshua Grayling is offered the chance for a reckoning with his nemesis, Eliza is horrified. It involves a sea voyage with an uncertain, probably violent, outcome. Insanity for an elderly blind man, let alone a drunkard.

Unable to dissuade her father from his mad fixation, Eliza begins to understand she may be forced to go with him. Then she sees the vessel they will be sailing on. And in that instant, the voyage of the Moonbird becomes Eliza’s mission too.

Irresistible prose, unforgettable characters and magnificent, epic storytelling: The Burning Island delivers everything readers have come to expect from Jock Serong. It may be his most moving, compelling novel yet.

My Take

In a sense this is a sequel to an earlier novel PRESERVATION in which Joshua Grayling was a key character. It involves the same geographic and historical setting – the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait, the wreck of a ship and the disappearance of its passengers and cargo, but it is 30 years on, and Joshua Grayling, once assistant to Governor Hunter in the Sydney colony, is no longer the man he was. Now old, blind, and an alcoholic, he has been haunted for over 30 years by the thought of catching up with Master Figge, one of the survivors of the earlier wreck and the author of so much death.

Grayling is asked to undertake a private expedition to Bass Strait to discover what has happened to the Howrah, its passengers and its cargo. Some debris has been found that indicates that it has been wrecked. It is unthinkable that he take this voyage on his own, and so his daughter accompanies him. They arrive at the boat the Moonbird to discover that there is a paying passenger, doctor/scientist who will be studying birds and fish.

The Furneaux group in Bass Strait is largely populated by sealers who have taken Aboriginal wives, sometimes originally against their wills, and there are half-caste children. And the mad governor of Van Diemen’s Land, Governor Arthur, is attempting to purge the main island and the Furneaux group of their Aboriginal population.

The story line didn’t hold my interest as much as I would have liked, but that was certainly overlaid with a heap of interesting historical detail and and a wealth of very interesting characters, not the least the master of the Moonbird.

My rating: 4.4

I’ve also read

5.0, THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET
5.0, ON THE JAVA RIDGE

4.8, PRESERVATION
4.6, QUOTA 

Review: MY BEST FRIEND’S MURDER, Polly Phillips

  • This edition published by Simon & Schuster 2021
  • ISBN 9-781398-501300
  • 355 pages
  • source: publisher

Synopsis (publisher)

You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide.
And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me.

Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They have been through a lot together – from the death of Bec’s mother to the birth of Izzy’s daughter. But there’s a darker side to their friendship, and once it has been exposed, there is no turning back.

So when Izzy’s body is found, Bec knows that if the police decide to look for a killer, she will be the prime suspect. Because those closest to you are the ones who can hurt you the most . . .

Best described as The Rumour meets The Holiday, MY BEST FRIEND’S MURDER is a compulsive thriller with a toxic but layered friendship at its heart that keeps you in the dark until the final few breathless pages.

My Take

Bec and Izzy have always been close, too close. It seems to Bec that she has always come off second-best, and now that she is becoming engaged she finds Izzy’s interference and “help” almost too much.

For example, Izzy took Bec’s boy friend Rich from her and married him. And whenever Bec tells Izzy something in confidence, it somehow leaks out, and there is a back lash. Izzy always wants to know everything. Izzy’s house is perfection, and Bec always feels under criticism. But Izzy doesn’t always tell Bec everything and sometimes she feels left out. And then there is the fact that Izzy is returning to work, and she will be working with Bec’s fiance. And so tensions ramp up to the point where Bec would like to kill Izzy.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Polly Phillips currently lives in Australia, although she is originally from the UK. My Best Friend’s Murder won the Montegrappa Writing Prize at the Emirates Literature Festival
in 2019. Polly has worked as a journalist in Australia, Dubai, Denmark
and the UK. This is her debut novel.

Review: WHITE THROAT, Sarah Thornton

  • format: e-book Kindle (Amazon)

  • ASIN : B084RSGCG1
  • Publisher : Text Publishing (1 December 2020)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 3336 KB
  • #2 in the Clementine Jones series 

Synopsis  (Amazon)

Looking out over an ebb tide from the back verandah was like watching God paint stripes…

Disgraced former lawyer Clementine Jones is on the shores of paradise—Queensland’s Great Sandy Straits—trying to outrun her past.

Bored with her house-sitting gig, she becomes a reluctant recruit to the local environmental group, campaigning to save an endangered turtle as developers close in. Then a body is found at the base of a quarry, and Clem’s world is turned upside down.

The police say suicide. Clem’s convinced it was murder. She also knows she’s the only one interested in tracking down the killer.

Well, the only one apart from her friend Torrens, ex-con and reformed standover man. And he’s got his own fight on his hands.

My take

Clem has fled north after the people of the Victorian town of Katinga have become aware of her past, after she brought its footy team to a premiership. She has ended up house/dog sitting in the coastal Queensland village of Piama.

There she meets up with a close family friend Helen who is working to save the white-throated turtle from extinction and its habitat from being destroyed by a mining company. Helen asks Clem to give legal advice to the conservation society and would like her to be more active and front-line.

Then Helen’s body is found at the base of a fifteen-metre cliff in the local quarry; the police rule suicide, but Clem is certain that Helen has been murdered and tries to work out who has been interested in getting rid of Helen. There are several candidates including some people who have been contributing financially to the cause.

Clem is also under pressure to say she will return to Katinga for the footy season, but she has other irons in the fire.

I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as the first in the series, but Clem Jones is certainly a strong and interesting character.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.7, LAPSE

Review: SHELTER, Catherine Jinks

  • format: e-book for Kindle (Amazon)

  • ASIN : B08KTP6721
  • Publisher : Text Publishing (5 January 2021)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 2006 KB
  • Print length : 327 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN : 1922330469

Synopsis (Amazon)

Meg lives alone: a little place in the bush outside town. A perfect place to hide. That’s one of the reasons she offers to shelter Nerine, who’s escaping a violent ex. The other is that Meg knows what it’s like to live with an abusive partner.

Nerine is jumpy and her two little girls are frightened. It tells Meg all she needs to know where they’ve come from, and she’s not all that surprised when Nerine asks her to get hold of a gun. But she knows it’s unnecessary. They’re safe now.

Then she starts to wonder about some little things. A disturbed flyscreen. A tune playing on her windchimes. Has Nerine’s ex tracked them down? Has Meg’s husband turned up to torment her some more?

By the time she finds out, it’ll be too late to do anything but run for her life.

My take

At first Meg focusses on keeping Nerine’s presence in her house a secret from her neighbours and friends. The scenario is complicated by the impact of everything on Nerene’s young daughters.

By the time Meg realises that Nerine is not only unhinged but dangerous, it is almost too late. And nothing prepared me for the impact of what has happened on Meg’s own life.  

It is enough to persuade you to never help anyone ever again.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Catherine Jinks’ books for adults, young adults and children have been published in a dozen countries and have won numerous awards, including a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the CBCA Book of the Year Award (four times). She lives in the Blue Mountains.

Review: THE NIGHT SWIM, Megan Goldin

  • this edition available from my local library as an e-book through Libby

  • Published: 4 August 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760897208
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Pages: 352

Synopsis (Publisher)

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name – and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognised for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial.
A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation – but the mysterious letters keep coming.

Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered. When Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases, past and present collide. What she finds will change not just the course of the trial, but the lives of everyone involved. 

My take

As the blurb says, past and present collide in this story, and the two cases 25 years apart are strikingly similar except that the death of Jenny Stills was never investigated and never came to trial. Once again Megan Goldin has set her story in a small town in North Carolina. but you can imagine that it could be set anywhere. 

Rachel Krall’s podcast takes her readers to the Scott Blair’s trial and tries to put them in the role of the jury. She tries to get them to see that it really isn’t Scott that is being tried, that the real substance of the trial is what is happening to K. the alleged rape victim. She has already been victimised by a large section of the town’s population for her allegations, but as Rachel says, who would allege rape if it hadn’t happened?

Simultaneously we are investigating the much older case of Hannah’s sister Jenny who drowned twenty five years earlier. The case got very little footage in the local paper because of a car crash at about the same time in which two teenage boys were killed. Jenny’s mother died of cancer a few weeks later and there was no-one to push for an investigation.

An interestingly constructed book with three main narrative voices.

One thing that has struck about the 3 books that I’ve read so far by Megan Goldin is that they are all very different, but all very believable.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read

Review: THE SAFE PLACE, Anna Downes

  • This edition published by Affirm Press Melbourne 2020
  • ISBN 978-1-925972-65-8
  • 371 pages
  • source: my local library
  • author website

Synopsis (author website)

Emily Proudman is a struggling actor in London, whose life is falling apart. When she is offered a job as live-in assistant for a family on a remote French estate, she jumps at the chance to start over. But her charismatic new employers are hiding dangerous secrets, and what at first appears to be a dream come true turns out to a be a prison from which none of them will ever escape – unless Emily can find a way to set them all free.

Superbly tense and mesmerising, The Safe Place is a deft examination of the lengths we’ll go to project and protect the façade of a perfect life and was largely written when author Anna Downes was in the grips of post-natal depression following the birth of her second child. With all her existential fears bubbling to the surface, Anna began writing as a way to have some semblance of control. She wrote and wrote and, reliving her previous career as an actor, began playing all the parts of the characters she had created. The result is one of the most tense and compelling debut novels ever, and The Safe Place was subject to a frenetic auction between Australian and international publishers in 2019.

My Take

Emily Proudman isn’t a very good receptionist. She is often late because she is juggling auditions and bit-piece work. So in a sense she is not surprised when she is sacked. What she doesn’t know is that she has been noticed by the boss who has decided that she is just perfect for another job. He “accidentally” bumps into her after she has been sacked and offers her a job as general factotum on his estate in France assisting his wife and helping look after his young daughter.

He flies Emily to France in his private jet, she is collected from the airport by a chauffeur, who then rather unceremoniously dumps her at the estate which is well hidden away in the countryside. By that night Emily is ready to leave but decides to give the wife Nina another chance. Over the weeks Emily and Nina get on fairly well and then her boss visits for the weekend. After that Emily begins to realise that there are things that are seriously wrong.

What is actually behind all the seclusion and isolation was not what I expected, and so I was once again hooked into reading until the very end so that I could see how it all panned out.

The structure of the novel is interesting. Emily is the main narrator and we generally see things through her eyes. There is a second narrator whose chapters are in italics, and the tragic story, and the identity of the narrator are there for us deduce.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Anna Downes grew up in Sheffield, UK. She studied drama at Manchester before winning a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and moving to London to pursue an acting career. Her acting credits include EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Dalziel and Pascoe, as well as a long-running stage production of The Dresser in London’s West End.

In 2009 she left to go travelling with her Australian partner, a trip that included a stint working as a live-in housekeeper on a remote French estate, where the seeds for The Safe Place were sown. Anna now lives on the Central Coast with her husband and two children. The Safe Place is being published simultaneously in the US and the UK, with several other countries to follow.