Review: KILL SHOT, Garry Disher

  • this edition published by Text Publishing 2018
  • ISBN 9-781925-773224
  • 242 pages
  • Wyatt #9
  • source: my local library
  • for US readers: available on Kindle

Synopsis (Good Reads)

The latest gripping story in the popular Wyatt thriller series kicks off in Sydney and then unfolds on the beaches of Newcastle.

Some people just work better alone. Wyatt’s one of them. He’s been getting by on nice quiet little burglaries—one-man jobs—when he gets wind of something bigger.

A corporate crook, notorious Ponzi schemer, set to face court and certain jail time. He’s about to skip bail the old-fashioned way: on a luxury yacht with a million dollars in cash.

Wyatt thinks it sounds like something he should get into.

He’s not alone.

My Take

Most of Wyatt’s recent jobs have been brokered by a day-release prisoner named Sam Kramer. Through his daughter Kramer passes on information he has gleaned from other prison inmates.  As a result Wyatt relieves people of their valuables, mainly through burglary, passes them on to a fence, and puts a commission into an safety deposit box for Kramer, keeping the remainder for himself. Periodically Kramer’s daughter contacts him to let him know the family needs some money. It works well.

Wyatt is a cautious, yet confident man, careful to remain anonymous, leaving nothing his victims can identify him by, and watchful for signs that he has been noticed. He thinks back over what he’s done, looking for errors.

The weak link in the scheme is Kramer’s son who passes Wyatt’s name on to someone else who like to cash in on the jobs that Wyatt is doing.

There are a couple of linked stories in this novel: a Ponzi scheme operator planning to skip the country with about a million dollars, and a couple from South Australia who’ve stolen a luxury boat.
Wyatt gets information about the first from Kramer. Looks like it might be easy pickings if he can work out where the Ponzi scheme money is.

There definitely an Australian flavour to this novel. And some how you forget that Wyatt is on the wrong side of the law.

My rating: 4.7

I’ve also read (not all are Wyatt series novels)
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

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Review: THE EMPTY BEACH, Peter Corris

‘The Empty Beach’ by Peter Corris

Peter Corris Cliff Hardy Banner 01

“The Empty Beach” is about private investigator Cliff Hardy’s routine investigation into a supposed drowning.  Beautiful client Marion Singer wants to find out the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of her wealthy husband John Singer.

The truth about John Singer, illegal trader and poker machine guru, is hard to find among the drug addicts, alcoholics and ashrams of Bondi Beach in Sydney.  Not to mention the hindrance of PhD rich girl Ann Winter and creepy jailer Mary Mahoud.  Hardy soon finds himself fighting for his life when his search for the truth involves some nasty venues controlled by an underworld of violent people and lead by kingpin Freddy Ward who does not appreciate his inquisitive nature.

Being an earlier novel, Hardy is ex-army, a law student dropout, insurance company investigator turned private eye who lives by a solid set of values.  And he’s seen many gruesome murders in his time.  Throughout Hardy shows understanding and tolerance of people from all walks of life, he embraces the city sprawl and the rural ethos, and doesn’t start a fight.  But he can be tough and not play nice when it comes to his own survival.  He has a habit, when in a tight situation, of jesting at the bad guy’s expense and consequently coping a beating.  This is well illustrated in the chapter where Hardy is imprisoned inside a squash court.

Crime Scene Tape 08

My suggestion is read “The Dying Trade” the first Cliff Hardy book in Peter Corris 40+ series even though a later book “The Empty Beach” was made into an Australian movie in 1985 and remains his archetypal crime story.  Based on Peter Corris 1983 novel of the same name, this movie starred Bryan Brown as Cliff Hardy and such notables as Belinda Giblin, Ray Barrett, John Wood, Joss McWilliam and Nick Tate as the ill-fated Henneberry.

While you may like to read the more current books like “Silent Kill” (above) the earlier ones are classic Australia in the 80s and 90s and my favourite is “Wet Graves”.  They have changed with the times, think internet and iPhones, and contain physical changes to Cliff Hardy at the same time they happened to the author.  For example, smoking habits or the triple bypass heart surgery Peter Corris underwent and kindly passed on to Cliff Hardy.  The relationship breakdowns do not appear to apply too much to real life.  However, the easy-going narrative speaks volumes, both men having a genuine affection for their family, the city of Sydney, and its diverse citizenry.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, let me say that one of the most enduring (and for me, best loved) of Australian crime fiction characters is Cliff Hardy.

Fast forward to future ‘Spoilers’ and Hardy is deregistered and operates on his own initiative but still maintains a rock-solid sense of fair play in the 21st century.  To date, Hardy’s longtime friend Frank Parker is now a retired senior police officer and married to Hilde, Hardy’s ex flatmate.  The reader watches this friendship evolve through a chain of novels and it’s just as interesting as following Hardy’s love life and family expansion.  Although he still holds a torch for his ex-wife Cyn.  And there’s cameos from characters like tattooist Primo Tomasetti with his graphic artwork and sleazy patter.

Cliff Hardy represents the kind of bloke many law-abiding citizens would like to have on their side, a blemish yet dependable man who’d share a joke or reminisce over a cold beverage.  When it comes to Aussie mystery solving, Hardy gets my vote every time.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward – copied from Gretchen’s blog Thoughts Become Words with her kind permission

Empty Beach
Beachside

Review: BOMBPROOF, Michael Robotham

Bombproof

by

Michael Robotham

  • Kindle Edition, 384 pages
  • Published October 1st 2013 by Mulholland Books (first published 2008)
  • Original Title – Bombproof
  • ASIN B00BAXFFJW
  • Edition Language English
  • Source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

Sami Macbeth is not a master criminal. He’s not even a minor one. He’s not a jewel thief. He’s not a safe-cracker. He’s not an expert in explosives.

Sami plays guitar and wants to be a rock god but keeps getting side-tracked by unforeseen circumstances. Fifty-four hours ago Sami was released from prison. Thirty-six hours ago he slept with the woman of his dreams at the Savoy. An hour ago his train blew up.

Now he’s carrying a rucksack through London’s West End and has turned himself into the most wanted terrorist in the country. Fast, funny, hip and violent, Bombproof is a non-stop adventure full of unforgettable characters and a heart-warming hero–Sami Macbeth–a man with the uncanny ability to turn a desperate situation into a hopeless one.

My Take      4.5 – 5

Once again Michael Robotham has not disappointed. A master story teller who combines that skill with cleverly plotted thrillers and quirky characters. ‘Bombproof’ is a funny, yet sad story of an innocent who manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Arrested for helping out, he goes from one disaster to another. DI Ruiz is a compelling character who never ceases to surprise me with his dry wit and adventurous spirit. A great read!

Pete Loveday

Seeking Contributors

Early in 2018 my good friend and collaborator Bernadette on Fair Dinkum Crime passed away unexpectedly. Our little reading group has missed her acid wit and I have missed her inspiration.

I have kept Fair Dinkum Crime going but in reality she was the energy and guiding light behind it.

If you read Australian crime fiction and would like to contribute to Fair Dinkum Crime let me know.

I don’t yet know how to add a contributor to the blog, but I am sure we can work something out.

review: THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER, Kayte Nunn

Synopsis (publisher)

Discovery. Desire. Deception. A wondrously imagined tale of two female botanists, separated by more than a century, in a race to discover a life-saving flower . . .

In Victorian England, headstrong adventuress Elizabeth takes up her late father’s quest for a rare, miraculous plant. She faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family.

In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed ‘Spring 1886’ and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons.

In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched nineteenth-century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips . . .

My Take

The novel is a romantic mystery, not my usual fare of crime fiction: written with a dual time frame, with over a century between them.

Anna is renovating a house in Paddington in Sydney, left to her by her grandmother when the builders find some intriguing objects sealed up in the wall. Anna has a gardening business, and has a “botanical” background. Intrigued by what she has found she tries to find out something about their provenance. As she reaches back in history, so the other narrative in the story reaches forward.

The second chapter takes us to Cornwall in 1886, where, at Trebithick Hall, Elizabeth’s dying father requests that she goes to Chile, to carry out a task that he had intended to do himself.

The two narratives are interlaced throughout and gradually Anna pieces together a family history that she had no idea about.

A good read.

My rating: 4.5

About the author (website)

Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of two contemporary novels, ROSE’S VINTAGE and ANGEL’S SHARE. THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER was Kayte’s first novel of transporting historical fiction, followed by THE FORGOTTEN LETTERS OF ESTHER DURRANT, set largely in the atmospheric Isles of Scilly.

I now live in the Northern Rivers of NSW and am also a mother to two girls. When not writing, reading or ferrying them around I can be found in the kitchen, procrasti-baking.

I love nothing more than a generous slice of warm cake, a cup of tea, a comfortable place to sit and a good book to read!

Review: PRESERVATION, Jock Serong

Synopsis (publisher)

Preservation, based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, sees master storyteller Jock Serong turn his talents to historical narrative.

On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features—and inhabitants—they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive.

It is Lieutenant Joshua Grayling’s task to investigate the story. He comes to realise that those fourteen deaths were contrived by one calculating mind and, as the full horror of the men’s journey emerges, he begins to wonder whether the ruthless killer poses a danger to his own family.

My take

Told by 5 main narrators, with the reader often having to determine the identity of the narrator through the content, and written as part of a PhD in Creative Writing, Jock Serong brings to life a little known episode in the early history of the colony of New South Wales.

The Sydney Cove has come from India via a route that takes her around the western most tip of the continent, down the western side of Van Diemen’s Land, and then up the eastern coast of the island, only to be wrecked in what would become known as Bass Strait. The boat has a valuable cargo of rum and tea which are stored on Preservation Island when the crew takes to the long boat only to be wrecked again on the southern coast of New South Wales.  (A lovely set of maps has been provided to orientate the reader)

Those from the wrecked long boat, 17 of them, begin the walk to Sydney Harbour, over 500 miles to the north, but only 3 arrive. One of the Europeans keeps a journal but it is obvious from the re-telling of the tale once they reach Sydney Harbour that each of the survivors has seen the events very differently.

An interesting story, graphically told.

My rating: 4.8

I’ve also read
5.0, THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET
5.0, ON THE JAVA RIDGE

Review: MAN AT THE WINDOW, Robert Jeffreys

Synopsis (publisher)

When a boarding master at an exclusive boys’ school is shot dead, it is deemed accidental. A lazy and usually drunk detective is sent to write up the report. Cardilini unexpectedly does not cooperate, as he becomes riled by the privileged arrogance of those at the school. He used to have instincts. Perhaps he should follow them now…

With no real evidence he declares the shooting a murder and puts himself on a collision course with the powerful and elite of Perth. As he peels back layers, the school’s dark secrets being to emerge. But is his dogged pursuit of justice helpful or harmful to those most affected by the man’s death?

Man at the Window is the first in the Detective Cardilini series, set in 1960s Western Australia.

My Take

It is 12 months since Detective Cardilini’s wife died and he has well
and truly dropped his bundle. Before Betty’s death he had the reputation
of hard bitten excellent detective but no more. Even his son Paul can’t keep him sober and on track.

St. Nicholas school has supplied Perth with many fine citizens, upstanding and successful businessmen, and it is the school that the police hierarchy attended. But the way in which they try to push any investigation of the death of the boarding master late one night, shot as he stands at the window of his room, does not sit well with Cardilini. Is it perversity or gut instinct that makes him declare he thinks the death is murder?

There are threats to the continuance of Cardilini’s career, already on the rocks, but he continues to follow tiny threads and eventually thinks he has worked out who did the shooting. Meanwhile his personal life appears to be getting back on track as he works on the garden that he has neglected for 12 months. Eventually his discoveries lead to an understanding of what caused the shooting, but also a dilemma about who to punish.

This is a very topical story, considering the moral dilemma that has recently faced our society, particularly related to institutionalised sexual abuse.

A very engaging start to what promises to be an excellent classic noir series.

My rating: 4.9

About the author

Robert Jeffreys has worked as an actor, teacher, builder, labourer, cleaner, real estate agent, personal security agent and playwright of the professionally produced stage plays Cox Four, Covert, The Simple Truth, and The Messenger. ABC Radio National featured his radio plays, Covert, which received an AWGIE award, and Bodily Harm. He has also published a poetry anthology, Frame of Mind. Robert’s debut novel, Man at the Window, is the first in the Detective Cardilini series, set in 1960s Western Australia.

Review: INTO THE NIGHT, Sarah Bailey

Synopsis (publisher)

Sarah Bailey’s acclaimed debut novel The Dark Lake was a bestseller around the world and Bailey’s taut and suspenseful storytelling earned her fitting comparisons with Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.

Into the Night is her stunning new crime novel featuring the troubled and brilliant Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock. This time Gemma finds herself lost and alone in the city, broken-hearted by the decisions she’s had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and the partner she has been assigned is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can’t help feeling a connection with the victim and the lonely and isolated life he led despite being in the middle of a bustling city.

Then a movie star is killed in bizarre circumstances on the set of a major film shoot, and Gemma and her partner Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor’s life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime and who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, she soon discovers – and none of them can be trusted. But it’s when Gemma realises that she also can’t trust the people closest to her that her world starts closing in…

My Take

DS Gemma Woodstock has decided in a sense to put her career before her family. Leaving her young  son with his father, Gemma has moved to Melbourne to straighten her life out and to put her career back on track.

This is a far from standard Australian police procedural becoming extremely complex when a popular young tv star is murdered during the shoot for a zombie movie filmed in Spring St. Melbourne. There is literally a cast of thousands, and although they have the film footage it is very difficult to see exactly when Sterling Wade was stabbed and exactly who stabbed him.

This is Gemma’s second case in her new posting. The first was the murder of a homeless man, also stabbed, in a laneway.The pathologist’s report suggests that the two murders are surprisingly similar but the investigating team can’t connect the two victims.

The action moves at a good pace, and the stresses in Gemma’s new life are well described.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.7, THE DARK LAKE

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.

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.