Review: PEACE, Garry Disher

  • format – e-book – Libby (Overdrive)
  • Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
  • ISBN: 9781922268150
  • Publication Date: 04/11/2019
  • Pages: 336
  • source: my local library
  • #3 in the Hirsch series

Synopsis (Dymocks)

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work—welfare checks and working bees—is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

My Take

Garry Disher introduced us to Constable Paul Hirschhausen in BITTER WASH ROAD and he makes a welcome return in PEACE.

Hirsch has settled well into life in the mid-north South Australian town of Tiverton. He has a girlfriend, a local school teacher, and has worked hard to become part of the local community. Christmas is coming up and he is judging the town’s Christmas lights competition, and putting on the Santa suit to give out gifts to the local kids. He works hard keeping tabs on local problems, but there are some who feel he doesn’t pay them enough attention.

I loved the description of small town politics. It all felt so real, and the description of the setting is superb.

When a mother accidentally locks her child in her car, and a video posted by a local goes viral, things change rapidly. NSW police arrive in the town and things look very different.

This is #2 in the Hirschhausen series and I strongly suggest you read BITTER WASH ROAD – Hirsch ( – aka HELL TO PAY) first. See Amazon

My rating : 5.0

I’ve also read
4.7, WYATT
4.8, WHISPERING DEATH
4.7, BLOOD MOON
4.2, THE HEAT
4.5, SIGNAL LOSS
4.7, HER
4.9, UNDER THE COLD BRIGHT LIGHTS
4.7, KILL SHOT
5.0, BITTER WASH ROAD – Hirsch #1 – aka HELL TO PAY

Another review you might enjoy

Review: BLOOD RIVER, Tony Cavanaugh

  • Format: Kindle Edition (Amazon)
  • File Size: 951 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia; Digital original edition (23 April 2019)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07KPKB63Q

Synopsis  (Amazon)

Brisbane 1999. It’s hot. Stormy. Dangerous. The waters of the Brisbane River are rising.
The rains won’t stop. People’s nerves are on edge. And then…
A body is found.
And then another.
And another.
A string of seemingly ritualized but gruesome murders. All the victims are men. Affluent. Guys with nice houses, wives and kids at private schools. All have had their throats cut.
Tabloid headlines shout, THE VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN!

Detective Sergeant Lara Ocean knows the look. The ‘my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again look’. She’s seen it too many times on too many faces. Telling a wife her husband won’t be coming home. Ever again. Telling her the brutal way he was murdered. That’s a look you never get used to.

Telling a mother you need her daughter to come to the station for questioning. That’s another look she doesn’t want to see again.

And looking into the eyes of a killer, yet doubting you’ve got it right. That’s the worst look of all – the one you see in the mirror. Get it right, you’re a hero and the city is a safer place. Get it wrong and you destroy a life. And a killer remains free. Twenty years down the track, Lara Ocean will know the truth.

My take

I thought this was such a cleverly constructed novel with themes that resonated in the Australian setting: Queensland weather, rise of the Brisbane river and flooding of the city, corruption in the Queensland police force, corruption in government, the glass ceiling both for women and for women of mixed race.

A culture of corruption leads to the decision to look for a quick resolution and conviction in the Vampire Slayer case. The story begins on the eve of 2YK, with 3 seemingly ritualised killings of middle-aged men, and the tracking down of the killer on the basis of what other teenagers and her teacher said about her. The culprit is quickly brought to trial, and sentenced to life amid public jubilation.

The plot directions often took me by surprise. I certainly hadn’t expected the plot to cover 20 years, nor had I expected Billy Waterson to become essentially a “reformed” character. I thought it got under the skin of the main characters, and it kept my interest throughout.

My rating: 4.8

I have previously read
4.3, PROMISE, Tony Cavanaugh

Review: THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW, Christian White

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1798 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250194377
  • Publisher: Affirm Press (September 24, 2019)
  • Publication Date: September 24, 2019
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07XZ1P2JR

Synopsis (Amazon)

Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and the Widow is a mystery/thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside down when she’s forced to confront the evidence that her husband is a murderer. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.

Brilliant and beguiling, The Wife and the Widow takes you to a cliff edge and asks the question: how well do we really know the people we love?

My Take

This novel is based on such a clever plot twist.

John Keddie has been away for two weeks supposedly at a palliative care conference in London. When he doesn’t arrive on a flight home to Melbourne, doesn’t answer his phone, his wife Kate reports him missing.

Then a security company reports an intruder at their holiday house on Belport Island in Bass Strait, and Kate and her father-in-law travel to the island to see whether John is there.

On the face of it this is a standard missing person/murder mystery but nothing prepares the reader for the huge plot twist that begins to puzzle about half way through the novel.

An excellent, recommended read.

My rating: 4.5

I had previously read THE NOWHERE CHILD

Review: DARKNESS FOR LIGHT, Emma Viskic

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4347 KB
  • Print Length: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Echo (2 December 2019)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0821FDXFL
  • #3 in the Caleb Zilic series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

The third thrilling instalment in the award-winning Caleb Zelic series. After a lifetime of bad decisions troubled PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He’s in therapy, reconnecting with the Deaf community, and reconciling with his beloved wife.

But he can’t escape his past.

A violent confrontation forces Caleb back into contact with his double-crossing partner, Frankie. When her niece is kidnapped, Frankie and Caleb must work together to save the child’s life. But their efforts will risk everything, including their own lives.

My Take

This must have been just a bit too noir for my tastes, but I just found it a bit of a slog.

I don’t actually warm to the central character Caleb Zelic, nor to many of the central characters he works with.

There is a lot of background material where I feel I have missed out on the full story, and that was actually how I felt when I read the previous title in the series.

The rating I gave it reflects the way I felt about the book, but others readers may well rate it more highly.

My Rating: 4.2

I’ve already  read
4.3, RESURRECTION BAY
4.3, AND FIRE CAME DOWN
 

Review: GONE BY MIDNIGHT, Candice Fox

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 925 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Australia (January 22, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 22, 2019
  • Sold by: RH AU
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07GVNBG51
  • #3 in the Crimson Lake series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.

For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril .

My Take

Set in Cairns. An 8 year old boy goes missing from the fifth floor of a hotel. He has been in the company of friends while his mother dines with their parents downstairs.

The mother asks Ted Conkaffey to investigate her son’s disappearance. The local police are opposed as his partner Amanda Pharrel was responsible for the death of one of their colleagues in their last case.

Days pass and the boy is not found until Ted and Amanada uncover the shocking truth.

Good reading but it would probably help if you had read the two previous books in the series.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
5.0, HADES 
4.3, EDEN
4.6, CRIMSON LAKE  (#1)
4.7 REDEMPTION POINT (#2)

Review: NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, Liane Moriarty

  • Originally published: 18 September 2018
  • Source: Libby e-book App, through my local library

Synopsis

The retreat at health and wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in… unconventional circumstances.

My take

My first Libby book – I read it on my android phone (the screen is a bit small) and my iPad (the screen is a bit big. Borrowing and returning were painless, and the app “synced” on the two devices. But you are at the mercy of the battery life of your devices and my iPad is not good. I may have to buy a smaller one just for ebooks, but then I can get the books free as against buying them for my Kindle.

Nine strangers embark on a retreat at Tranquillam House, in the Australian countryside, about 2 hours from Sydney.

In the first half of the book we learn why the various individuals are there and what they hope to get out of the 10 day retreat. We learn also about the people who are running the business.
All seems to be going well until we learn that Masha, who is the CEO of the retreat has been lacing their smoothies with LSD and ecstasy and then it appears that she is just a little mad and even dangerous.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.6, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET
4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES
4.5, TRULY, MADLY GUILTY

Review: THE LOST GIRLS, Jennifer Spence

  • this edition published by Simon & Schuster 2019
  • ISBN 978-9-2579-137-2
  • 338 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

A haunting tale of love and loss that will make you think twice

What would you do if you had the chance to change a pivotal moment from your past?

How far would you go to save someone you loved?

These are just two of the fateful choices a woman is forced to grapple with in this highly original and hauntingly evocative detective story of love and loss.

At the core of the enigmatic Stella’s story, past and present, is a mystery she is compelled to solve, a beautiful young woman who went missing fifty years ago – and a tragedy much closer to home she must try to prevent.

As Stella unravels the dark secrets of her family’s past and her own, it becomes clear that everyone remembers the past differently and the small choices we make every day can change our future irrevocably.

My take

This is one of those books that presents a problem for the reviewer. The blurb on the back cover gives the reader no clue about the strategy the author adopts to tell Stella’s story, and I’m not going to outline it either.

There are two lost girls, and the story swings between two main time frames: 1997 and 2017, in a very creative scenario.

One review called the format “the butterfly effect”, another called it “unsettling”, which it. It strains your sense of credibility. And is it crime fiction – oh yes!

When I was 100 pages in, I really wondered whether I wanted to continue reading, but I’m glad that I did. I can’t even remember who recommended the book to me, but thank you.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Jennifer Spence has worked as an English teacher, a scriptwriter of soap operas and a technical writer. She is the author of three children’s books and a crime novel. She lives in Sydney.

Review: THE ACCUSATION, Wendy James

  • this edition published by Read How You Want as a large print edition for Harper Collins 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-36930-380-6
  • 427 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

Somebody is lying.

A bizarre abduction. A body of damning evidence. A world of betrayal.

After eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, her bizarre story of kidnap and escape enthrals the nation. Who would do such a thing? And why?

Local drama teacher Suzannah Wells, once a minor celebrity, is new to town. Suddenly she’s in the spotlight again, accused of being the monster who drugged and bound a teenager in her basement. As stories about her past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt her innocence.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

My take

Middle aged Suzannah Wells, once the star of a soapie on Australian television, has come to a small country town in Victoria to teach drama at a local high school. She has bought an old house on the edge of town, bringing with her her elderly mother Mary who has dementia. She and her mother have few friends in the town, and her mother has a carer drop in three days a week while Suzannah is at work.

But their relatively comfortable life is shattered when Ellie Canning tells the police that she has been imprisoned for three weeks in the cellar of Suzannah’s house. Suzannah can’t work out why Ellie is telling such patent lies. What does she hope to gain by it?

The story results from a number of narrative sources: Suzannah herself, transcripts from interviews held with Ellie for a documentary series, and a friend of Suzannah’s called Honor who eventually takes Ellie under her wing. The story begins in August 2018 when a local farmer finds Ellie in a derelict hut on his property, and continues into 2019.

It was only when I was talking to a friend about the plot of this book, that she told me that it was very similar to that of a book that she had recently read. I researched the name of the author that she gave me, and I found there was indeed a connection. And then confirmation came at the beginning of Part Three. And then in an Author Note at the end came indeed the final confirmation of what my Google research had implied. I realised too that there had been a quite major hint in the body of the novel, but until my friend told me of the similarity, I hadn’t realised the significance.

But I’m not going to spoil the “story” for you – rather leaving it for you to discover for yourself.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.8, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
4.8, THE MISTAKE
4.7, THE LOST GIRLS

Review: DEAD MAN SWITCH, Tara Moss

Synopsis (publisher)

She’s a woman in a man’s world …

Sydney, 1946. Billie Walker is living life on her own terms. World War II has left her bereaved, her photojournalist husband missing and presumed dead. Determined not to rely on any man for her future, she re-opens her late father’s detective agency.

Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating spouses – it’s easy, pays the bills and she has a knack for it. But her latest case, the disappearance of a young man, is not proving straightforward …

Soon Billie is up to her stylish collar in bad men, and not just the unfaithful kind – these are the murdering kind. Smugglers. Players. Gangsters. Billie and her loyal assistant must pit their wits against Sydney’s ruthless underworld and find the young man before it’s too late.

My take

Here we have what appears to be the beginning of a new series, a female investigator in Sydney, and ex-soldier as her associate, and a historical setting to boot.

Billie is asked to look for a young 17 year old man, who disappears after visiting a Sydney night club to talk to a well known wealthy auctioneer.

The novel opens with a Prologue which appears to be an account of what has happened to the young man.

As befits the first novel in a series readers are given a lot of background about Billie and Sam, her associate, and the background material continues throughout the novel. The year is 1946 and Australia is beginning to recover from the aftermath of World War II, but there is a lot of opposition to Billie taking on what is seen as men’s work.

A well told tale with strong adherence to historical setting if not strictly factual.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

She is a mother, a wife and a dual Canadian/Australian citizen, and currently resides with her family in Vancouver, BC.
Moss is an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of women and children, has been a UNICEF Australia Goodwill Ambassador since 2007 and since 2013 has been UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Child Survival, and has visited Australian hospitals, maternity wards, refuges and schools as well as Syrian refugee camps in her UNICEF role. In 2014 she was recognised for Outstanding Advocacy for her blog Manus Island: An insider’s report, which helped to break information to the public about the events surrounding the alleged murder of Reza Barati inside the Australian-run Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre.

In 2015 Moss received an Edna Ryan Award for her significant contribution to feminist debate, speaking out for women and children and inspiring others to challenge the status quo, and in 2017 she was recognised as one of the Global Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life, for using her position in public life to make a positive impact in diversity, alongside Malala Yousufzai, Angelina Jolie, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet and more.

Review: THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE, Felicity McLean

Synopsis (publisher)

Part mystery, part coming of age story, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is set in a distant suburb on the encroaching bushland, over the long hot summer of 1992. It’s the summer of the school’s Showstopper concert. The summer Tikka never forgot. The summer the Van Apfel sisters disappeared. Blackly comic, sharply observed and wonderfully endearing.

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters disappeared. Hannah, beautiful Cordelia and Ruth vanished during the night of the school’s Showstopper concert at the amphitheatre by the river, surrounded by encroaching bushland.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home to try and make sense of the summer that shaped her, and the girls that she never forgot.

Blackly comic, sharply observed and wonderfully endearing, this is Picnic at Hanging Rock for a new generation, a haunting coming-of-age story with a shimmering, unexplained mystery at its heart.

My Take

Twenty years on, Tikka Molloy has always been haunted by the disappearance of the Van Apfel sisters. Were there things that she and her older sister should have told the investigating police at the time?

There is a strong Australian setting to this novel – not just the commentary in the background
of the Lindy Chamberlain case, but the heat, the bushland, and the flavour of the description. I thought there was also a touch of Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), of things observed but not necessarily understood. And the story leaves us with more questions, the opportunity to write our own ending, to come to our own conclusions.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Felicity McLean is a writer and a journalist.  Her writing has appeared in The Good Weekend, the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, the Big Issue and more. She has written fiction and non-fiction books and has been published by HarperCollins Publishers, Allen & Unwin and Black Inc. Her latest book, Body Lengths, was co-written with Olympian Leisel Jones. It won the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards ‘Reader’s Choice’ for Small Publisher Adult Book of the Year, and it was Apple iBook’s ‘Best Biography of 2015′. As a ghostwriter she has collaborated with celebrities, sports stars, business leaders and others.This is her first novel.

Felicity will be sharing the stage with Michael Robotham at Adelaide Writers’ Week 2020.