Crime City reader reviews A-Z
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1222 by Anne Holt
'Anne Holt's latest novel is 1222. The numbers refer to the height above sea level of the town where this modern version of the classic crime story takes place. The story starts with a derailment just as the train leaves Finesnut on its journey from Olso to Bergen. Plenty of injuries, but the train driver is the lone casualty. Amongst the 269 passengers who are evacuated to the nearby century-old mountain hotel are self-indulgent teens, German tourists, a church group, a sports team, the unseen occupants of a mysterious extra carriage, a group of doctors (conveniently for those injured) on their way to a conference and retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen. Add some locals and hotel staff, a snowstorm to ensure everyone has to stay put, a murder (or two) and you have the definitive locked room mystery. Hanne is not Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot: there's no rubbing of hands together with glee at the challenge; she doesn't want to get involved. Hanne is paralysed, confined to a wheelchair, limited to the lobby level. Whilst relying on those around her for some pertinent information, her powers of observation and deduction are obviously acute and she has the case solved in time for the classic denouement when the cops finally arrive.
'Anne Holt gives us a prickly heroine. She's cynical, perceptive, has a very dry sense of humour and an incisive wit. Hanne's inner monologue is a delight; her other characters and the dialogue are realistic and the action is non-stop. Holt touches on several topical issues and throws in a bit of philosophy. The Beaufort scale chapter headings are a fitting touch. 1222 gives the reader undiluted pleasure throughout: this novel is hard to put down. Marlaine Delargy's excellent translation certainly deserves a mention.' - M. Vincent, NSW
'In 1222, Anne Holt captures and maintains the backdrop of a constricting, all consuming Norwegian blizzard throughout the story, setting the mood where death, fear and paranoia play havoc.
The main character is a somewhat reluctant and dour anchor of calm for those trapped at Finse1222. I didn't find her a particularly likeable character, but Hanne's observant nature and her obvious soft spot for Adrian, a troubled teen, had me feeling a sense of stability.
Often 1222's turn of phrase, or character comments made the storyline a little disjointed, but on finishing the book I felt it added to the story; set in isolated mountains, undeniable surges of extreme emotion of a large group of people caught in an unusual and dangerous situation, the constant lashing of the storm, the final sad truth behind the murders and the constant interruption and speculation of the locked room.
All in all an interesting read, not only murder and a mystery with a final twist, but also a look into the psyche of people pushed into situations alien to them, which has the reader wondering how they too would react.' - K. Bouquet, NSW
'I have not really read any of the new Scandinavian type of thriller genre's mainly because I didn't really enjoy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but that said, I really love a good thriller, so I was interested to read this book.
1222 centres around passengers marooned in an old mountain hotel during a severe storm from a train accident. No one is severely injured except for the death of the train driver but over the course of the next few days two murders occur and then there is the mystery of the 'strange last carriage' and it's occupants. Hanne Wilhelmsen is a retired police inspector and paralysed from the waist down from a work incident. She happened to be a passenger on the
train and is drawn into the investigation before help can arrive.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I found it very slow to start but it gradually built up the story line into a good thriller. I feel this story was as much about finding the killer, as Hanne finding herself after her career stopping accident.' - M. Pratt, SA
'While Maitland in his latest novel Bright Air has taken a break from the traditional police based detective story of his previous Brock and Kolla series into more of a thriller, he maintains the balance between plot and character for a challenging and enjoyable read.
The narrator, Josh Ambler, returns to Sydney after four years in London and is approached almost immediately by an old university friend to help her investigate the circumstances surrounding the presumed death of Lucy Corcoran. Here the mystery is not in forensic evidence so much as the secrets that the protagonists reveal only as Josh is able to discover the right questions to ask. While the pace may seem slower than thrillers such as The Da Vinci Code this is because the characters are more believable - Josh at one point muses on the unrealistically resourceful and resilient characters who typically feature in crime novels. But the strengths of Maitland’s writing in his descriptions and evocation of place, and intellectual delving into the subject/s around which the story is based are both very apparent in Bright Air. Recommended especially for those readers who like a puzzle more than gore.' - Judith Antcliff
'The story itself is slow to start and a bit dry in places, however Barry does manage to bring Bright Air to a solid and satisfying conclusion for the reader, who may have struggled at times with the technical terms and slow moment of the book in parts.
The characters relationships are well defined and interact well, not always to the conclusion that the reader first suspects and like all good mysteries, this book doesn't give up the ending until the very last few pages.
Never having read Maitland before it was a new experience for me, who rather starts with her murder at the beginning and works backwards, this book was if nothing else a refreshing change from the norm for me.' - Annette Vickery
Chelsea Mansions by Barry Maitland
'Barry Maitland is a master of connections, constructing crime mysteries with architectural skill. Buildings figure centrally in the DCI David Brock and DI Kathy Kolla stories, but Maitland's greatest creations are complex plots and convincing networks of relationships between characters. [In Chelsea Mansions], elderly American tourist Nancy Haynes is killed in Chelsea and expatriate Russian billionaire Mikhail Moszynski is murdered nearby shortly afterwards. The crimes could be unrelated but Nancy was staying in a hotel that was the only part of a block of mansions that Moszynski had been unable to acquire and renovate.
'Early in the investigation Brock is hospitalised with a mysterious life-threatening illness. Kolla takes charge competently but when she treads on the toes of MP Sir Nigel Hadden-Vane, her superiors intervene, disperse Brock's team and send Kolla on leave. Britain's security services want to see the investigation ended as there are skeletons they wish to remain hidden. Delving into the genealogies of the murder victims and of the hotel owner, Kolla recruits Canadian forensic linguist John Greenslade and unearths some of Brock's family history. Never melodramatic but always engrossing, Chelsea Mansions demonstrates that Barry Maitland, like all good authors, improves by the book.' - T. Smith, NSW
Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood
'Cooking the Books is the 6th in Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman series. It's January, and Corinna Chapman, baker and reluctant investigator, is on holidays. Her apprentice, Jason, has gone to the beach to learn to surf. Daniel is busy on a paper chase. Kylie and Goss have secured parts in a soap opera series, "Kiss the Bride", being filmed at a Docklands studio. But Corinna is bored, and when her old school classmate and caterer, Thomasina, convinces her to assist, she finds herself (not quite unwillingly) baking bread for the film cast and crew.
'Another turn of events and she is also at the studio (but less willingly) in the role of pastry chef. A busman's holiday, as it were. As the story unfolds, Corinna and Daniel find themselves looking for missing bearer bonds, long lost sons and someone playing tricks on the star of the series. The story touches on bullying, weddings, dieting for work, actors (an excellent description), crooked accountants, job security, brides (compared with politicians), sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Somehow woven seamlessly into the plot are Nursery Rhymes and quotes and a tiger named Tabitha.
'Once again we are treated some interesting characters and a great plot, this time with an ending befitting a soap opera. Many of our favourite Insula residents make an appearance ("…Mrs Pemberthy, who is there to curdle the milk of human kindness"). The feel of Melbourne in summer is well rendered and there are some marvellous feline descriptions that make me want to be owned by another cat. Reading the earlier books in the series is not a prerequisite, but most readers who have not done so will seek them out after reading this one, for a guaranteed delightful read. The dilemma with all of Kerry Greenwood's books is that you are enjoying them so much (from dedication to afterword you will smile, chuckle, laugh out loud) that you can't stop reading, but you don't want the pleasure to end. And the recipe for "Gyngerbrede"? Yes, I made it: yum!' - M. Vincent, NSW
'After a stressful year, Corinna Chapman has closed her bakery for the month of January. But Jason her apprentice (recovering heroin addict and Muffin Mage) has gone to the beach to learn to surf, Kyle and Goss, her sales girls, achieve a life ambition and get parts in a soapie pilot and the delicious Daniel is deeply involved in a strange theft. She is at a loose end and not sure what to do with it and thus when begged by an ex school friend (now caterer) to do some baking for a soapie, she accepts.
'With Corinna we are whirled into a world of actors and tantrums, catering and pastry cooks, plots and excitement. Along the way Corinna aids Daniel in his search into crooked doings involving Melbourne landmarks and nursery rhymes.
'As always Kerry crafts her tale with wit and charm. Delightful characters abound, along with intriguing plot lines and great turns of phrase. Her descriptions of the feline characters (and definite characters they are indeed) always entertains and amuses me, from Horatio the stripy 'aristocat' to whose standards for a lady Corinna often feels unequal, and Heckle and Jeckle the 'Mouse Police' who see themselves as tough street-fighters, Lucifer 'the cat most likely to' if it involves danger and dirt, and then introducing the divine Tabitha the tiger - I hope she re-appears at some stage in the future! I love cats and Kerry's cats make me smile, I love Melbourne and her love of Melbourne (if not always it's weather) comes through. I love learning the little facts and historical details she sprinkles through her books like Corinna sprinkles seeds through her divine breads.
Cooking the Books is a feast for the senses and a worthy continuance of the life and times of Corinna Chapman (baker and reluctant investigator).' - Penny Townshend
'The Crazy School by Cornelia Read is a fun novel of gentle suspense. The story is set at an academy for disturbed kids where Madeline Dare is employed as a teacher. Madeline soon discovers that all is not as it seems at the school after a disturbing event hints at a secret history that goes to the academy's very heart. This book has elements of drug addiction, teenage pregnancy and apparent suicide in its storyline. This author has done a superb job of creating some gutsy characters who display some wonderful one-liners. This book is witty, dark and disturbing and is a great entertaining read. If you enjoy mystery mixed with comedy you will love this novel.' - Mel Honeycombe
The Cypress House by Michael Koryta
'Set in the 1930's depression era, The Cypress House tells the story of Arlen, an otherwise ordinary man whose ability to see the dead effects his daily life. His journey in search of work leads him to Rebecca and the Cypress House, and it is here that the mystery of this story unfolds. The tension throughout the story slowly builds to it's climactic end, giving the reader a good dose of action, romance and history along the way. Kortya has a created a story that successfully combines thriller and paranormal elements in such a way that makes The Cypress House a unique read for fans of these genres.' - B. Chapman, NSW
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Fans of Barry Maitland's Brock & Kolla series have had a wait on their hands. The last book - Spider Trap - was released in 2006, with a standalone book Bright Air in 2007. Leaving aside the eagerness with which we fans wait for the next book in a favourite series, there's also the slight nagging doubt always - has the wait been worth it? ... DARK MIRROR is everything that fans of this long-running series are going to enjoy, and the wait definitely wasn't wasted. Strong sense of an unexpected gem of a place (and another location from Maitland's London that you just want to see for yourself); a good police procedural with a touch of the personal; some moving on in the lives of the central characters; and a motive that's all too human and whilst sad, is also surprisingly cruel - it all just goes to remind the reader yet again about the futility of cold-blooded murder. - Karen Chisholm
The drama starts in earnest in the first chapter. What an introduction! It bodes well for a story of intrigue and mystery. Who would have thought a quiet lunch in the park, adjacent to the reading room of the Library, would lead to such a varied collection of people spanning generations, yet all interconnected by clever plots, diverse settings and an amazing range of subjects. We meet low class thugs, thinking police, academics and the aristocracy.
Maitland has managed to meld the classicism of the nineteenth century with present day London into a tale that leaves the reader with the observation that human nature never changes, no matter what the century or the situation. His research into the scandalous lives and suspicious deaths of the Pre-Raphaelites is extensive and yet, touches of “The Godfather” demonstrate the author’s ability to combine past and present into a well crafted tale with a “poisonous” theme running through. - Rosanne Gager
Brock is a kind and considerate and always demands the best from his team. Kathy is dedicated, driven and lives to work. The more interesting the case the more determined she becomes to help solve it. Pip is young, brave and eager to impress Kathy, by going beyond the call of duty.
The plot thickens and you never know which way it will turn. Who would want to use arsenic to poison someone and how to you acquire it? What a nasty and painful way to die. Why kill the mysterious Marion? Or, did she commit suicide? Who was the father of her unborn child? Kathy just can’t let this case go. She has to try and solve the mystery of both Marion and Tina’s poisoning.
As always the plot is thick with many villains. It was a bumpy ride with lots of twists and turns to add to the excitement. Brock and Kathy are at their best and the story is as suspenseful as ever. Barry Maitland has done it again. This superb thriller will keep you guessing until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. - Kathy Vandenhurk
Spencer Quinn's Dog on It is a delightfully unusual mystery. The story is told by Chet, detective Bernie Little's faithful canine partner. Quinn pulls this off with skill; Chet is a very real and constantly amusing character. For anyone looking for a light-hearted but highly entertaining read, Dog on It fits the bill perfectly.
The story ensues when the Little Detective agency is hired to find a missing teenage girl. What follows is a fast moving tale that travels around the state of California, involving a little action, a little romance and some clever detective work, but mainly laughs as we are privy to a dog's observations of oftentimes illogical human behaviour. Chet's unfailing loyalty and adoration of his master is evident throughout, reminding us why dogs hold the title of man's best friend. - Justine T
'An enjoyable, funny book about 'Bernie', a not-too-stupid PI and his offsider and K9 class dropout dog 'Chet'. Join them as they investigate the disappearance of a teenage runaway, or is she...
This book is unusual, as 'Chet' the dog is the narrator and I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect but maybe I'm just sentimental, as we have recently got a dog. I found 'Chet' really came alive for me and loved his humorous take on things.
Certainly an easy read and I'll be waiting for the second book!' - Marlene Pratt
'From the first page of Envy The Night, Michael Koryta placed me on an express ride with Frank Temple, hurtling towards the same destination as brutal and heartless killers.
The escalating tension and realism of Frank Temple’s character is what glued me to this book. My focus was held by the increasing suspense, thus preventing me from predicting the twists the story took, while reading from the point of view of all those who were good strengthened my desire to see them triumph over evil. With the possibility of a love interest in Nora, I was pleased the outcome was closer to reality than fiction.
Envy the Night is filled with escalating tension, believable characters and a man’s internal struggle between good and evil. The only way to escape the clutches of this page-turner is to read to the end.' - Carol Tillyer
'This is one of the most gripping mystery novels I have read in recent times. While revenge is the theme of the novel, the author has managed to weave a fast moving story that has many facets, including the consequences of war on the minds of human beings, and also the strange workings of love. This novel has many interesting and believable characters and covers the deep bonds which can exist between parent and child. The peaceful beauty of the lake is a wonderful setting for a final shootout. I would recommend this book to anyone, even if they are not a fan of this genre. Hard to put down until finished!!' - Rosanne Gager
'Michael Koryta is a master story teller putting his reader almost in a position of watching his characters from a window as the story unfolds.
Michael's attention to the finer details is very evident throughout the book making for not only a totally believable and realistic, but also very captivating story.
I personally found it difficult to put down and difficult to resist turning to the final few pages early, to find out how it ended, but then that would have spoiled the intrigue.
Crime writing has never looked this good and I will definitely be looking forward to Michael's next offering if Envy the Night is anything to go by.' - Anne Vickery
Follow the Money by Peter Corris
'Incredible as it may seem, I had never read a Peter Corris novel, so I had no idea of the depth of pleasure in store for me when I began to read his latest Cliff Hardy offering, Follow the Money.
The GFC in full swing, ex-PI Cliff Hardy has managed, not only to lose all his money, but also to end up with a future debt, thanks to the actions of an unscrupulous and now possibly (or possibly not) deceased financial advisor. Less than enamoured by the idea of bankruptcy, Cliff decides to "follow the money".
If, as I did, you are wondering how a novel concerning a financial advisor and the GFC could be anything but boring, let me assure you that Peter Corris has succeeded admirably in producing both humour and excitement. I would add that I am very grateful that my financial advisor is nothing like this one!
Corris has created a likeable hero in Cliff Hardy. He gives us a clever plot with a few twists, credible dialogue with plenty of chuckles and laugh-out-loud moments, lots of action and a great climax.
This was my first Peter Corris novel: it is, without doubt, not my last.' - M. Vincent, NSW
'I haven't read a book from Peter Corris for ages, and had forgotten how entertaining he is. He's put his PI protagonist, Cliff Hardy, through the wringer for heaven only knows how many books, and still makes it fresh and good to read. He has wonderfully intricate plots, this one involving an unscrupulous and - it seems - murderous financial adviser. Following the money trail presents many twists and turns along the way, with Cliff Hardy ending up in hospital at least once, kicked around and drugged to the eyeballs. Corris uses good characters who intrigue, heroes and villains and in-betweens, from Chinese to Lebanese to Australians, and comic, ironic interaction with the police. Hardy's now middle-aged but he's still a very clever PI - even though his PI licence has been cancelled for life, aha. He lives alone, is still mostly lonesome and broke like all PI's seem to be, but still endearing somehow, especially when it comes to his pregnant daughter. Corris always sets his books in Sydney, and of course I live in Sydney, so it's like revisiting an old friend when you know the places he uses in the book. If you haven't read any Cliff Hardy books, don't panic. Corris is masterful enough to let the reader know what you need to know so you can follow the ongoing storyline. Then you just have to hang on and 'follow the money'.
I don't think I've read the last of Cliff Hardy yet - this one has re-interested me and reminded me how much I do enjoy Peter Corris' writing. Hope it sells up a bomb for you all!' - M. Yock, NSW
'Cliff Hardy is on a money trail - his money! And if he doesn't reach the end of the trail in time, he stands to lose even more.
Cliff, currently operating without his P.I. licence, manages to antagonise the police as well as the bad guys - and it's hard to know who fits in where in this tale of mysterious characters and treacherous dealings, and where nothing or no one can be trusted to be what they seem. This determined P.I. needs all his talents to stay alive as he encounters a very seamy side of Sydney, and a cast that includes heavy gamblers, drug users and drug pushers, ruthless murderers, and an international group of very nasty characters, who are enemies within their own ranks, as well as of their intended victims.
Corris' inimitable, smooth style prevails, as he carefully develops his story-telling magic with plot and sub-plots that keep those pages turning, and characterisations that convince and enthrall.
I highly recommend you Follow the Money for a very exciting journey of intrigue, suspense and terrific story-telling.' - G. Carrick, QLD
'The adventures and exploits of Cliff Hardy (former Private investigator), keep you on your toes as you travel through the landmarks and streets of the city centre of Sydney.
Such a well written book should be readily received and enjoyed by crime readers everywhere. Whether you have read any of the previous Peter Corris, 'Cliff Hardy' books or not, you will definitely be keen to add this one to your collection.
This latest novel is full of great characters and has a strong storyline.
The reader will be kept spellbound by the twists and turns of Cliff's adventures. I doubt you will want to put it down until the very last page... I certainly didn't!' - P. Kain, SA
'Cliff Hardy, Sydney PI, has been around a long time, but this is the first time I've met him. Broke, with a dodgy ticker and an aversion to driving in rush hour traffic, Hardy initially doesn't seem to have a lot going for him. But he has a lot to lose, apparently. In his hard-boiled writing style, Peter Corris sends Hardy off to hunt down double-crossing financial advisor, Richard Malouf. There's a catch though: Malouf is dead. Or is he?
During Hardy's adventures, I worried, as did several of the thugs whom he encountered, that Hardy would suffer a heart attack. Maybe even a fatal one. Who would be left to finish the story? However, despite his many flaws, Hardy is a guy who should not be underestimated. Corris gives you a fast-paced read through the streets of Sydney and proves that even an ageing Cliff Hardy has what it takes to get the bad guys in the end.' - H. Boyd, NZ
"As devourable as Earthly Delights' muffins, this book is a joy. Fans of the Corrina Chapman series will welcome back with open arms all of the familiar characters and new readers will find heroes in Corrina and Daniel as they rescue a pair of desperate runaways. If you like crime fiction superbly written and filled with heart, soul, compassion, spirit and an eclectic mix of strong wonderful characters you'll love this. Goodness ultimately triumphs over evil and a baby is born just in time for Christmas. The world is a much better place with books like this. Welcome back Corrina!" - C. Aitchison, VIC
"Master (mistress?) baker Corinna Chapman is back in this fifth episode featuring the Earthly Delights bakery and the residents of the Insula apartment block. Set in December with the lead-up to Christmas, the plot revolves around the search for a missing, heavily pregnant teenager and her boyfriend. It also includes the typical seasonal ingredients of a donkey, a church, Christmas carols, glace cherries and a virgin birth. To reveal more would spoil the plot.
The storyline in this new addition to the series is more coherent than some of the earlier titles but no less fascinating. At first there is no crime to solve as such (and it is Corinna’s live-in lover Daniel who is commissioned to find the runaways) but as always Corinna becomes entangled, not only in this little mystery but also other intriguing puzzles such as the origins and treatment of Serena the donkey, the well-being of wealthy but abused music student Rowan, the militant activities of his vegan friends and the habits of the local freegans.
Written with typical witty and wry Greenwood style, this latest addition to the series rollicks along at a furious pace matching the madness of pre-Christmas retail chaos. The lives and worries of Corinna’s neighbours, staff and fellow shopkeepers, who readers have come to know and love, continue but play a less dominant role in this novel. After a rather astonishing denouement, everything comes together in a harmonious satisfying conclusion on Christmas Day." - L. Babbage, NSW
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Love, Honour and O'Brien by Jennifer Rowe
'From the start Jennifer engages us again through her strong character driven story of the naïve but sassy Holly Love who finds herself not only without a bridegroom at the altar (or registry office) but also without a job, home, or bank account. With just a small cheque from a favourite aunt and her ancient car she decides not to lie down and take it, but to engage a somewhat disreputable private detective, O'Brien, to try and locate the man who stole her dreams. But the catastrophes just keep coming as she finds O'Brien in his low life flat dead. However she does find a photo of her recalcitrant fiancé in his pocket which turns out to be a useful lead. Out of desperation she takes his mobile and assumes the role of private detective, which leads to a life and death situation for her. The author has spun a good fast paced yarn with whacky humour and some well drawn characters. The conclusion is logical and loose ends are tied up, if in a somewhat hurried way. People who like fast paced crime fiction will enjoy this read.' - Bronwyn Rodden
'In Love, Honour and O'Brien, Jennifer Rowe introduces her new private investigator, Holly Love. Holly has just had one of those days - she has resigned from her job, given up the lease on her apartment and packed up her whole life into her old Mazda before driving to the Blue Mountains and her fiancé, Andrew. The trouble is that Andrew has vanished, taken the contents of their joint bank account and left her with an empty cottage (which turns out to be rented and he hasn't paid the rent), no money and an unwanted booking for a wedding. Holly discovers she isn't the only person looking for Andrew and when the private detective she engages drops dead, she takes over his flat and business and sets out to solve a few cases, including hers.
The plot is totally over the top and the characters larger than life but the Blue Mountains setting where the author lives is brought to life. And by the end of this entertaining romp, the reader really cares about Holly and her new neighbours and wants to hear more. Bring on the next episode!' - L. Babbage, NSW
'It is only perhaps once a year that I find a book with a plot so intriguing that I don't want to stop reading - and this is that book for 2011! The speed with which Jennifer Rowe swept me up and carried me away on Holly's mission (and the oddball situations she finds herself in) make Love, Honour and O'Brien a brilliant escapist read.
Holly Love is an endearing heroine on a fast paced journey to find her fiancé who jilted and swindled her. Layer upon layer, the story builds with the strength of an eclectic supporting cast, who are all both amusing and entertaining as Holly bounces off them on her mission. The twists and turns along the way will surprise even the most astute reader.
Love Honour and O'Brien is the perfect quirky mystery, which I sincerely hope continues into a series. I am certain most readers will be left wanting to know more about Holly, her new friends, and their future adventures.' - K. Vincent, VIC
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The Red Coffin by Sam Eastland
'Crime fiction, is often frowned upon by those who prefer to wade through literary, or pretend literary, tomes, but there are times when a fast paced investigative journey is all we need to delight the tired brain cells!
For those of us who enjoy investigation, crime and page turning excitement then Sam Eastland's The Red Coffin serves this purpose... a true page-turner.' - L. Henderson-Lancett
'Inspector Pekkala is known to all as the Emerald eye and appears to be quite unstoppable. You feel as though you are beside Pekkala and his assistant Commissar Kirov following the investigation into the death of the designer of the 30 tonne F-34 tank, Colonel Nagorski. At first I found it difficult to deal with the plot as it is not my usual 'read' but once I had read the first few pages the storyline gelled and I was enthralled by the sequence of events and the level of secrecy Colonel Nagorski employed, concealing his plans even to family and co-workers. Commissar Kirov gave the story a humorous touch, trying to engage Pekkala in buying new clothes, eating new produce or to even eat properly.
It is certainly an interesting story revolving around the 'red coffin' prototype tank and Mr Eastland does it so very well.' - P. Kain, SA
'A very good read for lovers of either historical novels or murder mysteries. A little slow at first as the characters are introduced but once the investigation begins all stops are off. A good intertwining of historical fact and fiction. The descriptive during the tank chase is a must read full of action to let the imagination run wild.
A tale full of lies, red herrings, death and destruction. Certainly any one who has read Sam Eastland's Eye of the Red Tsar will enjoy this addition to the Inspector Pekkala series with enthusiasm.' - M. Gillies, SA
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'Second Strike by Mark Abernethy is the sequel to Golden Serpent, which introduced us to Alan 'Mac' McQueen, an Australian spy with the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
In Second Strike, Mac is awakened in the early hours of October 13, 2002, with the news that more than two hundred people have been killed by bomb blasts in Bali. While keeping watch on the forensic scientists at the scene, he learns that one of the blasts may have been caused by a mini-nuke. He pursues a group of businessman-terrorists through west Java and into Sumatra. He loses the trail and returns to Australia where he discovers a link between the Bali bombings and an Australian-based Muslim terrorist cell.
Although Alan McQueen is a spy, he is portrayed as human and fallable, and the reader can relate to him and his emotions. Exciting action combines with Aussie dialogue to grab your attention and take you on a thrilling ride.
Mark Abernethy has produced an intriguing novel that is impossible to put down.' - Merryl Donn
"Michael Kortya tells a story so gripping that you don't want to put the book down.
Bringing Lincoln Perry PI to life, you feel like you're with Lincoln feeling all the same confusion, and searching for all the same answers just as if you're his partner and actually working alongside him.
The plot with its many twists and turns will keep you up late until the very last page is read and as always the most obvious conclusion is never the right one.
Michael has outdone himself yet again with The Silent Hour.
I can't wait for his next offering. Michael's extraordinary and immensely creative writing makes him one of this decades best young writers.
The Silent Hour is a 5 star read." - A. Vickery, QLD
The Simple Death by Michael Duffy
'Michael Duffy is certainly making his mark in another genre as an author to note. Unlike some other authors he draws the reader into the story from page one. What a well written, exciting and suspenseful book!
There are many believable characters and familiar places, even for a sometime visitor to Sydney - like me. International readers (if given the chance), could easily see Sydney in their minds eye as the story unfolds. This book keeps the reader guessing until the last few pages.
As an avid crime story reader I have now added Michael Duffy to my special authors reading list. A truly enjoyable read, I look forward to Detective Troy's next adventure both in his job and personally.
If readers have managed to somehow miss the first book they can easily pick this one up, the story stands alone with minor references to the first novel, which no doubt they will want to read next.' - P. Kain, SA
"The story, about a 32-year-old female realtor who is abducted and held captive in a mountain cabin for a year, is told in the first person narrative as sessions with the victim's psychiatrist. Chevy has created an original plot, with plenty of twists and full of tension, which keeps the reader enthralled and eager to see what happens next. The dialogue is realistic and the characters are so well crafted that sometimes the reader will feel like grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking them. There are occasional moments of black humour, especially the disposal of the body scene. Chevy shows a great deal of insight into the state of mind of victims. She gives us a gutsy heroine whose endurance and attitude cannot fail to garner admiration. Add to this a climax that leaves the reader gasping. Set aside some time to read this book and don’t be surprised if you read it in one sitting: once you start reading, it is almost impossible to put down. Chevy Stevens? More, please!" - M. Vincent, NSW
'Suffer The Children is the first book in a new crime series set in London. It features DI Will Wagstaffe, known as Staffe.
The story introduces several characters and potential plotlines within the first few pages and, before long, a paedophile is found brutally murdered. DI Wagstaffe sacrifices his holiday to take on the case. As with all good crime novels, the plot rapidly becomes more complicated and serious detecting is required.
When another paedophile is attacked, it becomes evident that this is not an isolated case. Are these crimes committed by somebody connected to a paedophile victim or is it a serial killer? The suspense builds and the pace quickens.
Suffer The Children deals with paedophilia, an appalling subject, but it is handled well. There is enough detail to portray the horror of it, but not enough to overwhelm the reader. The book raises the question of whether vigilantism is acceptable when the law has failed to protect children. Everyone has an opinion on this and no one opinion will ever be acceptable to all.
This is a well written and fast paced novel with engaging characters - one of the best crime novels that I have read. It is impossible to put down and I can't wait to read the second Staffe novel.' - Merryl Donn
"Bernie and Chet are the Little PI team. They work in a sunny American state where Bernie drives the convertible, wears loud shirts and gets the girls. Chet worries about money, is skeptical about Bernie’s handyman abilities and puzzles over cliches such as 'an axe to grind'. Chet is a perceptive observer of human nature, probably because he can be objective. Chet, who narrates this story as he did with Dog on It, is himself a dog. While Bernie tucks his .38 Special into his belt, Chet has his 'teeth with him at all times'.
A "fluffball" called Princess is headed for another blue ribbon at the Balmoral dog show when a threatening note arrives. Chet and Bernie are hired to guard her but fired just as quickly when Chet becomes a little impetuous about Princess' bacon bits. Then, when Princess and her owner disappear, they are re-hired and Chet has a chance to redeem himself.
If you enjoy crime fiction, you will find this caper irresistible. If you love dogs, you will recognise Chet’s moods and reflections. If you are a dog-loving crime fan, you won’t believe your luck. Chet's bite is as sharp as ever." - Tony Smith, NSW
"Two is certainly great company when it comes to the first class Little Detective Agency. PI Bernie Little and his forever distracted, super funny and very observant canine partner 'Chet' battle the bad guys once again in Spencer Quinn's latest fast-paced novel, Thereby Hangs a Tail. The second in the series, and told brilliantly by narrator Chet from his four-legged point of view - we follow the chase to rescue two very rich and successful kidnapped 'ladies'. Weaving this way and that, the book takes us on a merry ride through valleys and deserts, on the ground and in the air in the search for 'Princess'.
"Who knew how fierce the world of Dog Shows could be? As Nance the dog trainer proves deadly, reporter Suzie Sanchez disappears too while the Count has his own role to play in this classic detective novel. Chet's nose in the company of Bernie's investigative nous prove to be a great (and very entertaining) combination in solving the mysteries within this 'tail'. Not to be missed by dog-lovers and super-sleuths everywhere!" - Christina Rose, ACT
"Chet is a very large, very lovable and very loyal larrikin who loves his crime-solving life. It’s one big adventure, and often a very dangerous one. [In Thereby Hangs a Tail] Chet and Bernie are on a mission to solve a kidnapping case, as well as a very serious dognapping one: Princess, a pampered show dog, disappears, along with her owner Adelina, Countess di Borghese. Bernie’s girlfriend, Suzie, a journalist, also disappears in mysterious circumstances during her own investigations of the kidnappings.
"It is a very funny book, with marvellous insights from Chet, given as only dogs can. Chet knows he’s a pretty good partner in crime solving, but also knows he’s a bit stumped with colours and counting; however, true to form, nothing stops him from trying really, really hard. Dog lovers will recognise Chet’s dog-speak, with a laugh and knowing nods. “Yes, of course. That’s exactly how they are.”
"The continual doses of humour evoked by Chet, and the attributes of a very well-crafted mystery novel, combine to make this recommended reading for fans of the genre. Good pacing, interesting plot and sub-plots, and believable characterisations - it’s all there in this Chet and Bernie escapade" - Gail Carrick, QLD
To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn
'In this third installment, Chet and Bernie are on the trail of a missing circus elephant and her trainer. What secrets does the desert hold?
I love Chet's narration and observations and I'm certain I have a smile on my face all the way through reading this book. It really does make me see my dog in a new light, particularly as he watches my every move!
Having read and enjoyed the previous two adventures of Chet and Bernie, I really have to say that this is my favourite.' - M. Pratt, SA
'With two previous mysteries featuring PI Bernie Little and his faithful sidekick Chet the dog, it all just keeps getting better! But even if you haven't read Dog On It and Thereby Hangs a Tail, Quinn explains anything that you need to catch up with, you don't think 'huh?', and the story rollicks along at breathtaking speed. This one's all about a missing elephant and his circus handler. PI Bernie mightn't be the richest guy in the world, but he's a terrific father and an awesome PI when he's on the job. Plus, he gives Chet the best treats and pats in the world. What a fabulous hero dog Chet is: big, smart, well-trained, lovable and faithful, with an eye on every morsel of food that might just happen to pass his way. If you can scarf up a treat while you're on the job, bonus! They are an unstoppable team, Chet and Bernie. Told completely from Chet's point of view, the comic idiosyncrasies of humans makes you laugh. And really, that is the magic of this book - even non-mystery readers will have tremendous fun! The book is impossible not to enjoy. Do they get their man? Read on!' - M. Yock, NSW
'[To Fetch a Thief] is a great read of 307 pages, with many laughs and good plot twists. The story is told from the view point of Chet, a big dog who is K-9 school dropout as a result of an unfortunate incident with a cat on the last day of training. Unfortunate for the police maybe but not for us readers; for this is how Chet - the jet, gets to become involved with the Little Detective Agency which is owned and operated by Bernie Little. Bernie has a few problems in his life, like his ex-wife Leda, bad investments/finances and taste in clothing. Together with Chet they make a great team and it is not long before they are called on to help in the case of Peanut - a circus elephant who has gone missing along with her trainer. Chet's not the brightest tool in the shed, often surprised by a breeze behind him (his tail wagging), on top of this Chet sometimes has a habit of sleeping or becoming fixated on food at crucial moments. This means that Bernie has to solve the intellectual stuff like the - so therefore's. But can they save themselves let alone solve the case? Read on to see if Chet can grab the perps by the pant legs!
I've read all three of the Chet and Bernie mysteries and enjoyed every one of them. They don't have to be read in order to enjoy them so do yourself a favour and get this one I recommend it, it's bound to be one of the best reads you'll have all year. 5 stars.' - P. Mahoney, VIC
'Having been a dog owner, and enjoyed the company as well as the intelligence of man's best friend, I was prepared to greet aspects of this 'doggy' crime novel with pleased familiarity. What I found was the delightfully anthropomorphised Chet, who takes us on a chase tracking down a missing elephant and his trainer, as well as 'helping' his beloved master Bernie manage his love life, his parenting, and the mundane aspects of making a living. Quinn's version of the detective genre is filled with Chet's wry and naive observations which draw an affectionate response in the reader.
Quinn's technique of using a dog as narrator allows us to experience the events of the novel almost in a filmic way, as though Chet is as neutral as a camera operated by an all-seeing cinematographer. Descriptions of landscapes, settings and people are clear, some events are confusing but do become clear, and Chet's occasional misinterpretations of situation and motivation allow us to feel slightly superior, as we know what is really going on.
We also get to experience doggy world, with its exciting smells and compulsions, and Chet's Mexican adventure will resonate with any male dog owner.
Bernie is a poor businessman and a good detective, with strong ethics and a high level of the necessary skills, a master of the techniques needed when pursuing the truth and discovering the bad guys and bringing them to justice. Quinn's choices of names, (Marvin Winkelman, and that so-cute play-on-words title!) places, and adventures will leave fans of the genre satisfied whilst dog lovers will also feel warmed by the treatment of their life companions.' - H. Wilde, SA
"Torn Apart took less then a day to read, and as a busy housewife that is no easy task. Between sending the kids off to school and putting out the washing I spent a joyful day with Cliff Hardy. Full of intrigue and suspense, Peter Corris has managed to write a book that I will be recommending to all my reader friends. As a former Police woman, I was able to imagine the characters with ease. Many of the crime books I read come from America, so it was a joy to find an Australian detective set in more familiar surroundings. Corris manages to conjure up the character of Cliff Hardy, not unlike Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, as a loveable but flawed individual that while good at his job, has many shortcomings in life." - Sharon Thompson, VIC
The Troika Dolls - Miranda Darling
'What a fabulous read. The Troika Dolls had me from the very first page.
A thriller that wove its way through mass corruption, organized crime and unthinkable people smuggling... that left me wondering about human spirit and the soulless criminals that steal it ... long after I’d turned off my light.' - L. Tasovac, WA
Tropic of Death by Robert Sims
'You know how a cat jumps into the warm spot on the sofa after you get up, then has to be prised out of position to regain your seat, well that was the type of battle I had with my husband whenever I was foolish enough to put this book down.
It held my attention (and his) to the end, with believable characters, and futuristic science that sent chills down my spine with its ultimate 'big brother' is watching you concept. This gave Detective Rita Van Hassel many problems in her attempts to investigate several gruesome murders, never quite knowing who to trust or believe, even amongst her own ranks.
Loved the book. A great read.' - Pam Swain
"From the very first page, Danielle Hermans has us intrigued. A murder in 1636 in an Alkmaar tavern, and another nearly 400 years later in an exclusive area of London: how are these related? What do the dying words of second victim mean? The two story lines develop independently, but are woven together beautifully. Danielle has obviously done quite a lot of research and we learn a great deal about tulip cultivation and trade, but in an easily digestible manner. She intertwines fact with fiction to produce an entirely believable tale. Danielle uses some clever analogies and pleasing echoes, the action is fast-paced, the dialogue, credible, and there are several plot-twists leading to a gripping climax. This novel is hard to put down: many will be compelled to read it in one sitting. David MacKay deserves praise for a first-rate translation. An excellent debut novel: let's hope we are treated to English translations of Danielle Hermans' subsequent novels soon." - Marianne Vincent, NSW
"The Tulip Virus is a fascinating book. It opens with the murder of Mr Winckel in 1636. Who is Mr Winckel and why was he murdered? Before these questions are even considered, there is another murder.
This second murder occurs in 2007. Alec receives a telephone call from his uncle Frank, demanding that he 'come here' immediately. Alec arrives at Frank's house and finds his uncle dying. Frank points to a picture of a tulip in a book, tells Alec not to call the police and then dies. Alec hides the book from the police and the search for answers begins. His friend Damien, an antique dealer from Amsterdam, joins him in his quest to discover the reason for his uncle's murder.
The truth about both murders is gradually revealed, as is the connection between them. The characters come alive and the plot twists keep the reader guessing.
Many thrillers based on true events slowly drown in a mass of irrelevant historical details, but this book is so well written that the facts blend into the fiction seamlessly. This is a clever, well written book and is impossible to put down.
I usually find translated books difficult to read. They tend to be stilted and artificial, but this translation is invisible. It is hard to believe that it was not written in English. David MacKay has done an excellent job. I look forward to his next translation of a Danielle Hermans book." - Merryl Donn, QLD
"Absolutely fantastic! I hate to sound clichéd but I did not want to put
this book down and whenever I had to I was always thinking about how to
wangle my next reading opportunity. I was hooked right from the first
page. ... This is one of the best books I have read and absolutely 100% goes in my
most favourite books list." - Mandy de Jager, WA (via Mandythebookworm)
"A book that piques your interest from the start. There are two plots - a Dutchman Frank Schoeller is murdered and as he lay dying, he turned urgently to his nephew Alex and pointed to a beautiful drawing of a tulip in an old book. He entreated him "no police, take the book". This introduces the second plot, the collapse of the tulip industry in the 17th century. How can the two be connected?
The author has well researched the collapse of this industry which led to economic ruin for many and is able to weave a story between this and the present day murder with a well constructed storyline and thought provoking incidents that keep the reader engaged to the end. A very easy to read book, and although the whereabouts of the bulb was revealed , it wasn't the end of the story. Could there be a sequel to this novel?
A fast paced thriller, full of historical facts, an enjoyable mystery, and education." - Rosanne Gager, QLD
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