Post Script: Face Value – A Wright & Tran Novel – Ian Andrew

face-valueFace Value

A Wright & Tran Novel

Ian Andrew

ISBN: 9780992464127

 

Description:

Kara Wright and Tien Tran, former members of an elite intelligence gathering team active in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places still classified, now make their living through Wright & Tran, a PI service that tracks errant spouses, identifies dishonest employees and, just occasionally, takes on more significant cases that allow them to use all their skills.

 

When siblings Zoe and Michael Sterling insist that their middle-aged parents have gone missing, Kara and Tien are at first sceptical and then quickly intrigued; the father, ex-intelligence analyst Chris Sterling, appears to be involved with an enigmatic Russian thug.

 

Using less than orthodox methods and the services of ex-colleagues with highly specialised talents, Wright & Tran take on the case. But the truth they uncover is far from simple and will shake Zoe and Michael as much as it will challenge Tien and anger Kara – anger she can ill afford for she is being hunted by others for the killing of a street predator who chose the wrong prey.

 

The only constant in this darkening world is that nothing and no one can be taken at face value.

 

My View:

Australian authors are awesome!

 

What a fantastic discovery!  This book easily scores a place in my “Top Reads of 2016”! Fast paced, action packed, explosive, compulsive writing and with not one but two particularly interesting and empathetic female protagonists!

 

The introduction provides a very tasty and appetising bait – you won’t feel that hook until it is too late and it is after midnight and you are reading “just one more page”… until you have finished! You can catch up on sleep another night.

 

It wasn’t the prettiest place to die. But then again, where is? She was taking a short cut through unfamiliar territory. He was running an illegal errand on ground he called his own. Neither would have wanted the street with its vandalised lights and graffiti-covered hoardings, to be their final view of life. But we don’t often get what we want.”   (p.1)

 

Bad things are going to happen, you can feel it, sense it, taste it. But you might just get a surprise or two here. And then there is the rest of the narrative! I was thoroughly hooked, engaged, enthralled.

 

I cannot wait to read the second in this series “Flight Path.” Thanks Ian Andrew for a consuming read!

 

 

Post Script: The Windy Season – Sam Carmody

“There are things out there worse than sharks.”

the-windy-season

The Windy Season

 Sam Carmody

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760111564

 

Description:

A young fisherman is missing from the crayfish boats in the harsh West Australian coastal town of Stark. There’s no trace at all of Elliot, there hasn’t been for some weeks and Paul, his younger brother, is the only one who seems to be active in the search. Taking Elliot’s place on their antagonistic cousin’s boat, Paul soon learns how many opportunities there are to get lost in those many thousands of kilometres of lonely coastline.

 

Fierce, evocative and memorable, this is an Australian story set within an often wild and unforgiving sea, where mysterious influences are brought to bear on the inhospitable town and its residents.

 

 

My View:

“There are things out there worse than sharks.”

 

This book had a charm and appeal that slowly slowly makes a space for itself in your head and your heart.  Is it the familiar countryside, the mystery, the characterisations, the seductive narrative that weaves subtle tentacles around you insisting you read more and more?

I think it is combination of all the above plus a level of honesty and transparency of writing that has an appeal all of its own.

 

Mystery and coming of age narrative, a great combination; I celebrated the point where Paul realised his parents were people too – that they had personalities, flaws, emotions, lives… responsibilities…not just to their children.

 

A great debut, I only had one niggling problem – and that was about how the dialogue was presented on the page – the lack of speech/quotation marks to identify a conversation often had me re reading paragraphs to make sense of things. Speech was identified by the use of “said”; Jules said, Michael said, Paul said… too many “saids” for me. Maybe I am old fashioned, used to a certain style of grammar- this method I found distracting.

 

PS I liked that how this book shone a spotlight on the current social/health issue – ice/meth drug use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Peppercorn Project – Nicki Edwards

The Peppercorn Project

The Peppercorn Project

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan Australia

Momentum

ISBN: 9781760302306

 

 

Description:

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

 

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family’s best chance at a fresh start.

 

 

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he’s found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

 

 

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won’t rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

 

 

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

 

 

A gorgeous rural romance for fans of Fiona McArthur, Rachael Johns and Fiona McCallum.

 

 

My View:

Sited in a rural Australian town, I loved the attitude of “paying it forward” with an opportunity for four families to get a second chance to improve their current lifestyle and circumstances and at the same time instil some lifesaving “new blood” into a rural community, there is plenty of scope for action and personal drama here. This the perfect “pick me up” read; when you need something optimistic, positive, charming and with an obligatory happy ending (and one of the most delicious male love interests around), you will not be disappointed in this read.

 

Take note- this is not a book of purely froth and bubble. Nicki Edwards tackles many contemporary social issues within these pages: diminishing populations of small towns and the repercussions for the community – in particular the depletion of services, the process of grief and healing, drug dealing (and in particular the infiltration of “Ice” into communities big and small)…and the importance of “second chances.”

 

An enjoyable contemporary Australian rural read!

 

 

Post Script: Dead End Fix , A Justice Novel – T E Woods

Dead End Fix

Dead End Fix

A Justice Novel ( #6)

T E Woods

Random House Publishing Group – Alibi

Alibi

ISBN:  9780425284551

 

Description:

Fear and violence come home to roost in this exhilarating Justice thriller featuring The Fixer—a roller-coaster ride for readers of Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter novels.

 

I’ll bring Hadley home. Whatever it takes. Whatever it costs. Whoever has to die.

 

There’s a gang war unfolding on the streets of Seattle. A young boy has been killed in a drive-by shooting, and the ensuing chaos threatens to engulf the city. Normally, chief of detectives Mort Grant would be dealing with the fallout—but right now, his mind is elsewhere. . . .

 

In one gut-wrenching phone call, Mort’s worst fears are realized. His granddaughter Hadley has been kidnapped, and the culprit is his own flesh and blood: Allie, his daughter and Hadley’s aunt. Now, desperate for any sign of the missing six-year-old girl, Mort turns once again to the relentless vigilante called The Fixer for help.

 

After rising to the top of one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world, Allie Grant has turned her focus back on her family. But since they’ve rebuffed all her attempts at contact, she’s punishing them the only way she knows how. With an endless stream of cash and connections that span the globe, Allie makes a formidable target. But The Fixer boasts the deadliest weapon of all: her razor-sharp mind.

 

 

 

My View:

This novel, part 6 in the Justice/Mort Grant series and is another solid read from this talented author. I enjoyed the psychological battles and the solving of a major plot line in this episode by using psychology alone – this is what “the Fixer” does best – uses her mind. This is the element that I loved in the earlier books.

And now reflecting on the practice of psychology as I write my review I have realised the significance of the gang storyline (whilst interesting to read I was at a loss as to how this melded with The Fixer’s plot line) now I get it – it is about the power plays and psychology at work behind the behaviour of gangs – a tenuous link but a link there is.  Gang wars, drug lords/wars, one police division working in another’s territory… the psychology that binds and divides is interesting.

 

A solid read; one major story line ends – I have to wonder where this series is now heading…surprise me Dr Woods.  (A little bird has told me Dr Woods is developing a new series set in Madison, Wisconsin, now that should be interesting.)

 

Post Script: Second Chance Town – Karly Lane

Second Chance Town

Second Chance Town

Karly Lane

Allen &Unwin

Arena

ISBN: 9781760291815

 

Description:

The town of Bundah is dying, with many of its young people fleeing for jobs in the city. A desperate plan to revive Bundah’s fortunes—with generous incentives to attract new businesses—results in a flood of people coming to the town to set up shop.

 

As Bundah begins to come to life with the new arrivals a spate of teenage drug overdoses starts to divide the locals. Many are convinced the narcotics trade has been brought to town by one of the newcomers. It doesn’t help that the mysterious new owner of one of the local pubs has a dark past.

 

Lucy Parker is a single mother doing her best to support her teenage daughter, Belle, through her last year of high school. It’s long been Belle’s dream to go to university, so when she starts to turn wayward, hanging out with the wrong kids and experimenting with alcohol and possibly drugs, her mother is deeply troubled.

 

The very last thing Lucy needs is for a man like Hugh Thompson to mess with her heart and disrupt her life. However it seems fate has other ideas.

 

Suspenseful and packed with romance, Second Chance Town is sure to grow the fan base Karly Lane has established with her bestselling novels Poppy’s Dilemma and Gemma’s Bluff.

 

 

My View:

Australian women writers are awesome! This is another excellent example of a contemporary rural Australian novel/romantic suspense – emphasis on the suspense.  It will entertain, engage, thrill you and ultimately make you smile.  Along the way Ms Lane weaves in some very contemporary issues regarding drugs – effecting all parts of society, and the demise of small Australian rural towns and the efforts some communities make to breathe life back into the towns.

 

Had a trying day? Feeling weary, need to re charge your batteries?  Then this is the perfect read for you!

 

 

 

Post Script: All These Perfect Strangers -Aoife Clifford

Things don’t go wrong in an instant. There isn’t one single moment when the world suddenly splits in two. Rather, it begins with a minute crack, and then another and another, until they join together, getting bigger and wider and all the time you keep fooling yourself that this can still be fixed. That you can fill them in and everything will return to normal.” p.130

All These Perfect Strangers

All These Perfect Strangers
Aoife Clifford
Simon & Schuster Australia
ISBN: 9781925310726

 

Description:
You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.

You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.

Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.

College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

 

‘This is a novel of disquieting intimacy and controlled suspense, Aoife Clifford deftly tightening the screws until we share the narrator’s sense of emotional and physical confinement and the unremitting grip of the past.’ – Garry Disher, author of Bitter Wash Road.

 

My View:
Things don’t go wrong in an instant. There isn’t one single moment when the world suddenly splits in two. Rather, it begins with a minute crack, and then another and another, until they join together, getting bigger and wider and all the time you keep fooling yourself that this can still be fixed. That you can fill them in and everything will return to normal.” p.130

These statements sum up this book perfectly; as tiny cracks make themselves known flaws appear in personalities, in personal histories, in retelling of events. I really like the device of the diary to tell parts of the dual timeline stories. The trouble is Pen Sheppard is such an unreliable narrator that we never quite know if we are being shown the truth or a version of the truth, Aoife Clifford has baited her hook well, as a reader we just want to know what the mystery is in Pen’s home town, we are hooked.

The narrative rolls on, more dead bodies are found, the plot twists and turns and we understand a little more about why Pen acts the way she does, how trust is an issue, why she thinks her truth is dangerous. And dangerous it is! There were a few surprises that I didn’t see coming.

However I felt the ending let me and Aoife Clifford down. I won’t share any spoilers but will say that the ending left so much unsaid, so many loose ends, and so much history that needed righting (and writing). Maybe it is a sign of my investment in the book but I wanted more from this ending – justice was not served, so many details needed revealing to the police, so much information the reader had needed to be shared. I don’t like being left hanging. Maybe a novella is in the pipeline that will tidy the ending up?

Regardless of my dissatisfaction with the ending of this book it is a good debut, Aoife Clifford is an author to look out for.

 

****Interview with writer here: https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgwE7PN3d6?play=true

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.