Post Script: Resurrection Bay – Emma Viskic

Cover Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760068769

 

 

Description:

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

 

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.

 

Resurrection Bay is the exciting debut novel by Melbourne-based award-winning crime writer Emma Viskic.

 

‘Viskic has created a genuinely unique and captivating character who deserves a place alongside Jack Irish and Cliff Hardy.’ – P.M. Newton

 

 

 

My View:

I finished reading this book about a week ago – and here I am still trying to find the words to adequately describe my reaction,

(positive, 5 stars) to this book. It was a great read, a fantastic debut, a great new voice in Australian crime fiction. It is an inclusive and diverse voice; the language deftly written laced with laconic dry humour (Caleb has a typical Australian self-deprecating sense of self and humour) and there are Indigenous characters, artists, cops, villains, drug users, strong men and women, a range of people and lifestyles that form a part of this rich cultural landscape. Emma Viskic’s characters reflect a diverse Australia.

 

Caleb is profoundly deaf. (Have I ever come across a protagonist in crime fiction who is deaf? I don’t think so.) Caleb’s disability is portrayed with credibility and intelligence – his disability informs his attitudes (he is quiet, some say uncommunicative, keeps mainly to himself, and stands back, observing rather than participating in life around him) but his disability doesn’t define him, perhaps it more accurately defines those around him by their responses to his deafness. Caleb is intelligent, he has mastered the art of reading body language and nuances in behaviours/responses, and language (he lip reads and has hearing aids) and uses his skill to his advantage in both his public and private worlds …he is determined and thorough in his work, he suffers relationship issues like anyone else. He is not perfect. He is… himself. A complex human.

 

Enough of the protagonist – other characters in this narrative are interesting and humanly portrayed, diverse and real.

 

The plot – interesting, twisty and at times bloody – (it is a crime story after all) and there are a couple of reveals that I did not see coming. The back story about Caleb’s relationship with his ex-wife and their struggle to deal with loss (no spoilers here) is a universal story about relationships and adds depth, interest, layers…a richness to the storytelling.

 

The settings – Melbourne, Australia – city and regional; always great to have a landscape that speaks to fellow Australians.

 

What else can I tell you without giving you a rehash of the narrative? This is an intriguing and engaging read. At times the tension cuts like a razor – swift, sharp, painful. You will not forget this story, you will not forget this cast of characters. You will want to read the next in this series, I do. I think I am done.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Butterfly Enigma – Lorraine Campbell

Cover The Butterfly Enigma

The Butterfly Enigma

Lorraine Campbell

McIntosh Publishing

ISBN: 9780994338723

 

Description:

A thrilling new novel from the author of the ‘Resisting the Enemy’ series. Lena, the lost child… Found wandering the streets of wartime Paris. No-one knows her real name or where she came from. Australia in the ‘Swinging Sixties.’ Lena is working in the Melbourne Law Courts. One day in court she hears a man’s voice. A voice that sounds hauntingly familiar. A voice that chills her to the core. Is it possible that this man has something to do with her unknowable past? Lena embarks on a search for more. A newspaper story. A history. A connection. And slowly, layer by layer, the past is peeled away, revealing a picture of evil involving thousands of lives and touching on Lena’s own personal tragedy. ‘The Butterfly Enigma’ ranges from the submarine-patrolled sea lanes of the Baltic to the staid courtrooms of mid-sixties Australia, to the island of Crete, to Paris, Tel Aviv and the inner workings of the Mossad, and to Rio de Janeiro. A gripping story of one young woman’s search for her lost past. Above all, her passionate and overwhelming desire for justice and retribution.

 

 

My View:

It is very interesting how two people can read the same book so differently – a good reason to have an open mind and check out books which might not necessarily be in your favoured genre – as long as the reviews are positive. I read an online review that stated that this book is about love and romance – not my view at all!

 

I read this book as a powerful narrative about a strong women embracing the beginning of the feminist movement in Melbourne in the 1960’s – a woman who wanted to and did make decisions for herself, a woman who was comfortable in her own skin, a woman striving to be self-reliant, a positive woman and overall a very determined and pragmatic woman; I could not believe the choices she made in Rio. (No spoilers here).

 

This narrative of feminism, Melbourne in the 1960’s and one woman’s strength is but one element of this multi-dimensional story. We hear the personal stories of war time 1940’s from the viewpoints of Lena’s mother as she struggles to protect her child firstly in Latvia and later in Paris as the ethnocentric war against Jewish people begins, from the captain who provided safe passage to those escaping Latvia on his ship, from Lena’s auntie in Paris and the historical accounts of war via the records of the newspapers and courts of the time, the Berlin Document Centre, trials of war criminals and other such resources. I dare you not to be moved but these accounts.

 

The stories and voices here overlap and intertwine offering the reader a rich and vibrant narrative. I loved every word on every page; such an exquisite and engaging narrative. Love story? That is not how I read this book; a multifaceted story of feminism, war crimes, retribution, courage and strength and complex relationships. Yes there are relationships in this novel – what novel concerning people wouldn’t be complete without the interactions between characters? Maybe the word lovers as opposed to love story is more fitting here? You be the judge.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Simplest Words A Story Teller’s Journey – Alex Miller

Cover The Simplest Words

The Simplest Words

A Story Teller’s Journey

Alex Miller

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781743313572

 

Description:

A selection of short pieces – both fiction and non-fiction – from one of Australia’s greatest literary treasures.

 

From one of Australia’s greatest novelists comes this fine collection, a storyteller’s journey. These short stories and essays, written over the last forty years, comprise an insightful and intelligent meditation on the life of the novelist and the culture of contemporary Australia. Personal and intimate as many of these pieces are, this collection forms a kind of assured autobiography, of the sort that only Alex Miller could write.

 

Alex Miller’s stories are told with a rare level of wisdom and profundity, engaging the intellect and the emotions simultaneously. Stories are, after all, in his blood.

 

 

My View:

I am very pleased to have made the acquaintance of author Alex Miller. This is my first experience of Alex Miller’s writing and an experience it was! There is so much of Mr Miller’s life and passion in this book you cannot help but be moved by this collection of extracts and observations. The full range of emotional experiences are exposed in the stories of this brilliant wordsmith – admiration, love, a hint of remorse, guilt, awe, passion, reconciliation and sadness (the short story How to Kill Horses devastated me, such a powerful and moving piece, a story that deserves your attention) and lastly an evocation of jealously – I would like to be able to evoke such feeling with my words, to be able to write with such sublime power. If I cannot write like Alex Miller then I would be satisfied to sit in a classroom with Alex Miller as tutor, even for one session – any chance Alex?

 

There is something here for both the reader and the writer in this collection. Alex Miller shares this observation with us “I’ve had great joy from writing novels. But now I need to obey the rule of necessity for change and have taken on a new challenge. This need to take a critical look at what I’ve been doing with my life possibly has something to do with Socrates’s remark that an unexamined life has not been worth living. I have begun to write what I hope can become a celebration of the tragic beauty of Max Blatt’s life and our friendship. The ocean of my ignorance, I soon found, is far deeper and broader than the island of my knowing. In reflecting on my own history I am aware of the paradox that I am going into a largely unknown landscape along a road I have never travelled. It has become clear to me that recollection is itself fiction….” (p263)

 

Further he shares this gem about writing and story (he is reflecting on his story about Journey to the Stone Country and some of the inspiration for characters in it)”…His father, Frank Budby, tell me Graham cherishes the book and his role in it, but it was only after I had written the story that I began to see how central to its theme his character was. We never know what we have written, after all, until our readers tell us to look again. Frank tells me that his son has found his dignity in the book. And I think of the books in which I first found my own dignity.” (p.277)  [Emphasis added by author]

 

This book is a delight to read, a highlight of my reading year.

 

 

Post Script: The Singing Bones – Shaun Tan

The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones

Shaun Tan

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760111038

 

Description:

A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

 

In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures.

 

Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

 

‘These little figures of clay, with their simplified features, their single attributes, are perfect realisations of the strangeness of the characters they represent.’ – Philip Pullman

 

 

My View:

What a beautiful collection!

Shaun Tan has captured the essence and emotions of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales with his deceivingly simple yet evocative sculptures. The works are eloquent and are beautifully paired with edited extracts from The Complete Fairy Tales translated, introduced and annotated by Jack Zipes (Vintage Books, 1987); these sculptures and extracts are truly memorable and have succeeded in replacing any childhood images I had of the tales.

 

So many emotions fill these pages; the sculptures are pared back, raw and often confronting, others are charming and delightful. I particularly loved the sculptures that are paired with these extracts, The Thumbling, The Stolen Pennies and Faithful Johannes. I think Faithful Johannes is my favourite – the emotions etched on Johannes face are sublime and powerful, so little says so much, the other two I selected are just so simple and yet so beautiful! But don’t be confused by my selection of beautiful, evocative sculptures, Tan also captures the essence of evil just as magnificently with brooding haunting images – I choose to ignore these – they are truly fearful.

 

A beautiful collection that anyone will be proud to have on their bookshelf or coffee table.

 

 

Post Script: Three Lives Down – Rachel Amphlett

Cover Three Lives Down

Three Lives Down

Dan Taylor #3

Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlett

ISBN: 9780992268596

 

 

Description:

Dan Taylor has survived two attempts on his life. The rest of his team are missing, and now a terrorist group has stolen a radioactive isotope from a top secret government project.

 

Can Dan survive long enough to prevent a nuclear disaster on British soil?

 

With the Prime Minister determined to re-negotiate the country’s place in the European Union, and deals being struck behind closed doors, Dan stumbles across a plot that will shake the country to its core.

 

If his mission fails, his enemies will overthrow the British government, and Dan will be a wanted man.

 

If he wants to succeed, he’ll have to sacrifice everything.

 

 

My View:

A surprisingly good novel! Surprised – yes I was – very pleasantly so. I am sorry to say I had not come across Aussie author Rachel Amphlett before and didn’t really know what I might find when I opened this book. When I decide to read a new author there is always a little trepidation involved – will the book live up to my expectations – and those expectations are pretty high? I wasn’t disappointed.   What a great read it was.

 

Despite not having read the first two books in the series I had no problem relating to the main characters or  understanding the situations they found themselves in. I was quickly enmeshed in this read.

 

The action is fast paced, the tone tense and the situations highly credible. I loved that Rachel wove a sub story about fracking into this mix – the world really does need to know about and understand the potential problems that relate to this practice and the situation in this novel is very sensitively and powerfully delivered without hysteria or emotional blackmail. Great work Rachel. I am no fan of fracking and I do not apologise for my view.

 

Back to the novel:

 

Fast paced√

Action packed√

Realistic scenarios√

Settings vivid and visual√

Writing – explodes on the page√

Characters- are empathetic and credible√

Will you be up all night reading this – most definitely!

Would I recommend to you – most certainly!

 

My rating – five stars!

 

 

 

Rachel Amphlett is star! She has achieved so much in her relatively short writing career. Rachel has successfully self-published and promoted her books and the Italian foreign rights to White Gold, the first book in this series, were sold last year to Fanucci Editore’s TimeCRIME imprint, the same imprint that publishes David Baldacci, John Connolly, and Karin Slaughter. What a coup! Rachel Amphlett is a writer we are most certainly going to hear lost more about!

 

Post Script: Give The Devil His Due – Sulari Gentill

Cover Give the Devil His Due

Give the Devil His Due

Rowland Sinclair #7

Sulari Gentill

Pantera Press

ISBN: 9781921997570

 

Description:

The 7th book in the award-winning Australian historical crime fiction Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series

When Rowland Sinclair is invited to take his yellow Mercedes onto the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed, he agrees without caution or reserve.

 

But then people start to die.

 

The body of a journalist covering the race is found in a House of Horrors, an English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations is killed on the race track, and it seems that someone has Rowland in their sights.

 

A strange young reporter preoccupied with black magic, a mysterious vagabond, an up-and-coming actor by the name of Flynn, and ruthless bookmakers all add mayhem to the mix.

 

With danger presenting at every turn, and the brakes long since disengaged, Rowland Sinclair hurtles towards disaster with an artist, a poet and brazen sculptress along for the ride.

 

My View:

The sub-genre historical crime fiction is more than the re-imagining of an incident set in the past; when executed skilfully it is engaging, thought provoking and shares the authors passion for the era and their understanding of the society and culture of that period. Sulari Gentill’s passion for this era is obvious on every page. The tone, style and colour of this narrative paints an evocative and very visual account of Australian society in the 1930’s. I love reading crime fiction based in this period – the time frame is far enough removed from my life that I have no firsthand knowledge of the time yet the period is still relevant and interesting and accessible. Records still exist from that time frame: news reels, documentaries, oral histories, films, art, fashion, music etc. that allows us a glimpse of the past, it is the context, the social fabric, the political views and the mystery that this talented author weaves into the narrative that makes this work so engaging.

 

And did I mention great characters? I particularly enjoyed reading about Ed – Edna Higgins; a creative, talented, generous and strong individual who does not conform to societal pressures that inform how a 1930’s woman should be; she is herself.

 

A great read.

 

 

Post Script: Good Money – J M Green

What a wonderful discovery  – JM Green I cant wait for your next book!

Cover Good Money J M Green

Good Money

J M Green

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925106923

Description:

Introducing Stella Hardy, a wisecracking social worker with a thirst for social justice, good laksa, and alcohol.

Stella’s phone rings. A young African boy, the son of one of her clients, has been murdered in a dingy back alley. Stella, in her forties and running low on empathy, heads into the night to comfort the grieving mother. But when she gets there, she makes a discovery that has the potential to uncover something terrible from her past — something she thought she’d gotten away with.

Then Stella’s neighbour Tania mysteriously vanishes. When Stella learns that Tania is the heir to a billion-dollar mining empire, Stella realises her glamorous young friend might have had more up her sleeve than just a perfectly toned arm. Who is behind her disappearance?

Enlisting the help of her friend, Senior Constable Phuong Nguyen, Stella’s investigation draws her further and further into a dark world of drug dealers, sociopaths, and killers, such as the enigmatic Mr Funsail, whose name makes even hardened criminals run for cover.

One thing is clear: Stella needs to find answers fast — before the people she’s looking for find her instead.

Set in the bustling, multicultural innerwest of Melbourne, Good Money reveals a daring and exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction.

 

 

My View:

What a wonderful discovery – JM Green I can’t wait for your next book!

 

What a fantastic new voice in Australian crime fiction! I loved every word written on these pages – the self-deprecating and often dark humour that is characteristically Australian, the colloquial language, and the locations – recognisable city scapes – multicultural Australia

(But really could be almost anywhere these days), the honesty and the friendships and of course, the great engaging narrative.

 

This is crime fiction at its most human level – a narrative that clearly shows the effect of acts of crime on the victims, families of the victims, the cops and the social workers. Corruption, drug use, gangs, prejudice, structural misogyny…all are highlighted in this work – but please don’t misunderstand me – this book is a joy to read (aside from the murders which are naturally, sad), the characters are so natural, the language, discussions, conversations so fresh and real, the relationships credible; everyday lives exposed but this is not an “ordinary” life, nor an “ordinary” narrative, at times it is fun, at times sad, bleak and grim and even romantic, occasionally optimistic and always with a thread of tension that pulls the narrative together tautly.

 

I really loved the protagonist, Stella Hardy and can’t wait to hear more of her adventures.