Review: THE WHISPERING WALL by Patricia Carlon

This 1996 cover adorns the first version of the book to be published in Carlon's native Australia

Like many Australian authors Carlon’s books were first published outside Australia but this book was part of a 1990’s classic crime series put together by a South Australian publisher

Sarah Oatland is 61 and has had a stroke. She cannot walk, talk or move. She can see, hear and think but no one knows these things about her, at least at first. She is being cared for at home thanks to her wealth.During the day her bed is wheeled to the window of her large room where, due to an acoustic eccentricity of the house, she is able to hear everything said in one of the downstairs rooms. When her husband was alive they once spent the night listening to guests talk disparagingly of them but now she only hears the doctors discussing her dispiriting prognosis with her nurse. Until her parsimonious niece fills the house with paying lodgers and Sarah listens to Valma and Murray Phipps plot the death of Valma’s stepfather so they can inherit his money. Sarah’s growing terror at being able to do nothing, literally, in the face of the seemingly inevitable murder is palpable.

Of course there’s a noticeable lack of technology and twitter has only one meaning but these small details aside there is nothing much to place this tale in any specific time. Equally, no location external to the house gains any foothold in the reader’s imagination. This novel is all about what happens inside the house. It seems impossible that such a richly drawn story progresses forward almost entirely based on what an immobile woman hears but it is a testament to Carlon’s writing skill that such a narrow perspective provides a more thoroughly gripping read than many of today’s much-hyped blockbusters. This is a genuinely suspenseful domestic setting and seemed to me to be as scary today as it would have been on publication.

One of the reasons I think the book is so successful is that the characters are all very ordinary. Even the would-be killers are not knife-wielding psychopaths or of a similar ‘outlier’ personality that would make it possible to believe such sinister behaviour only goes on in books. They are just greedy and impatient and not very nice (obviously given they are plotting the murder of a harmless old man) but they are quite normal. Sarah’s frustrations and limitations are depicted realistically too – she cries and gets upset as you would in such circumstances – but her innate intelligence shines through and the reader can enjoy being inside Sarah’s head even while being increasingly worried for her health and well-being. There are, eventually, couple of characters who cotton on to the fact Sarah knows what is going on and try to help her communicate and the way everyone reacts to Sarah’s changing circumstances – the realisation that she is not just a fish on a slab – is another subtly drawn standout feature of the novel.


If you are looking for a timeless tale of how an insular environment can create a truly suspense-filled experience THE WHISPERING WALL is highly recommended. In fact my only gripe is how little is known about this author in her home country. Given the quality of this book and the fact that it stands up so well nearly 50 years after being released it is galling to realise that Patricia Carlon is virtually unknown here and that most of her novels have still never been published in this country. Shame on us.

I chose this book as my contribution to this month’s crime classics challenge hosted at Past Offences. Each month participants read a book published or watch a movie released in the nominated year which this time around was 1969.

This is the 16th book I’ve read and the 12th I’ve reviewed for this year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge. Check out my challenge progress and/or sign up yourself

Review: PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil

  • review copy supplied by publisher PanteraPress
  • published in 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-921997-07-5
  • Book 4 in the Rowland Sinclair Mystery series
  • 403 pages
  • Kindle version available from Amazon

Synopsis (PanteraPress)

It’s 1933, and the political landscape of Europe is darkening.

Eric Campbell, the man who would be Australia’s Führer, is on a
fascist tour of the Continent, meeting dictators over cocktails and
seeking allegiances in a common cause.  Yet the Australian way of life
is not undefended.  Old enemies have united to undermine Campbell’s
ambitions.  The clandestine armies of the Establishment have once again
mobilised to thwart any friendship with the Third Reich.

But when their man in Munich is killed, desperate measures are necessary.

Now Rowland Sinclair must travel to Germany to defend Australian
democracy from the relentless march of Fascism. Amidst the goosestepping
euphoria of a rising Nazi movement, Rowland encounters those who will
change the course of history. In a world of spies, murderers and
despotic madmen, he can trust no-one but an artist, a poet and a brazen

Plots thicken, loyalties are tested and bedfellows become strange indeed.

My Take

This title has sat in my TBR shelves for far too long. In it the author cleverly reminds of what is happening in the world in 1933: Germany rapidly heading into fascism; that there are those who would like to see Australia heading the same way. When Rowland Sinclair agrees to go to Germany instead of his brother Wilfred, Rowland’s bohemian friends decide to accompany him. And how else to get there quickly other than in Kingsford-Smith’s Southern Cross?

I loved the way some now famous names came to life in this story including Kingsford-Smith, Eva Braun, Hermann Goering and Nancy Wake, just to name a few.

Although the action of the story really is improbable, it makes a captivating tale, and excellent reading.

My rating: 4.7

I’ve also reviewed

Review: TIME TO RUN, J.M. Peace

  • review copy supplied to me by publisher, Pan Macmillan Australia
  • ISBN 978-1-74353-786-2
  • published July 2015
  • 228 pages
  • Kindle version available from Amazon

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The hunt is on


A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.


Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the
disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent
die on her watch.

The killer’s newest prey isn’t like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.


A stunning, tautly written thriller from police officer turned writer, J.M. Peace.

My Take:

My feeling is the plot of this novel relies heavily on stories from true crime such as the Ivan Milat murders. Certainly that reinforces in my mind that events such as those described in this piece of fiction can actually happen.
I don’t mean to detract from the good job the author has done with plot and with character development. I was struck also by the way the tension ratchets up in the second half of the novel. We know that Sammi is racing against time for her life.

This is an impressive debut title.

My rating:  4.5

About the author
J.M. Peace is a serving police officer who would rather be writing about
policing. Over the past 15 years, she has served throughout south-east
Queensland in a variety of different capacities. Her voice of authority
shines through in her debut crime thriller, A Time To Run.
J.M. Peace she has also written various short stories, blogs regularly
about policing and writing and is currently working on her second novel.
JM lives on the Sunshine Coast, juggling writing and police work with
raising two kids along with her partner. She blogs at

A blessing of awards for Australian crime fiction

In the interests of full disclosure I should admit that the collective noun ‘blessing’ apparently applies to unicorns but since I’m not convinced fictional creatures should get a noun all of their own I thought I’d borrow it for my purpose. Due to life…and death…getting in the way I have been remiss in discussing all the recent awards that have come the way of Australian crime writers lately but I’m hoping the old adage “better late than never” still applies to most of life’s awkwardnesses.

LifeOrDeathRobothamAudioIn reverse order, timeline wise, we’ll start with congratulating Michael Robotham whose LIFE OR DEATH won the prestigious British Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger Award this week. It’s a standalone novel that starts with the premise of a young man escaping from a Texas prison on the day before he is due to be released. Driven equally by in-depth character development and a heart-stopping plot it’s easy to see why the judges were taken with this novel, even with its impressive competition. Kerrie reviewed the novel here at Fair Dinkum Crime (and though I didn’t review the novel I concur with her sentiments and can also recommend the audio version of the book beautifully narrated by John Chancer). An article in Today’s Sydney Morning Herald provides some background information on the novel and Michael’s history as a writer, including a heartfelt admission on the downside of being a ghost writer.

BigLittleLiesMoriartyNext we move to the 2015 Davitt awards for crime writing by Australian women which were announced on August 29. Best Adult Crime Novel went to Liane Moriarty for the surprise crime novel BIG LITTLE LIES. As this book is set to be a film starring ‘our’ Nicole I suspect this is not the last we’ve heard of this particular title. Other winners on the night included Ellie Marney for Best Young Adult Novel with EVERY WORD and Caroline Overington for LAST WOMAN HANGED which took out the Best Non-Fiction category. The Reader’s Choice Award (voted by members of Sisters in Crime) went to Sandi Wallace’s TELL ME WHY. And because she is one of my favourite authors ever I can’t let this occasion pass without noting the Highly Commended certificate judges gave to Sulari Gentill’s A MURDER UNMENTIONED in the Best Adult Novel category.

EdenCandiceFoxFinally we must mention this year’s Ned Kelly Awards, winners of which were announced earlier in August. Candice Fox’s second novel EDEN took out the Best Crime Novel Award while Helen Garner’s THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF won in the Best True Crime category and QUOTA by Jock Serong was voted Best First Crime novel. We’ve been a bit remiss here at FDC in not reviewing any of these but at least two of these are buried in my mountain of unread books so I will get to them. One day.

I think that’s it for all the missed news, our belated congratulations to all.



Review: DOUBLE MADNESS by Caroline De Costa

DoubleMadnessDeCostaIn the aftermath of 2011’s Cyclone Yasi a woman’s body is found in Far North Queensland’s remote wilderness. She has been tied in position with silk scarves and the expensive high heels she is wearing indicate she was unlikely to have made her own way to the location. But there is no obvious cause of death and with no missing persons reports matching the woman’s description it takes Cairns police detective Cass Diamond and her colleagues some time to first identify the woman and then piece together the circumstances that led to her death.

There is a lot to like about this debut novel. The standout element is probably the setting – both in terms of geography and social context. The success of this aspect of the novel no doubt draws on De Costa’s own experiences as a professor at the School of Medicine at James Cook University which allow her to depict Cairns and its surrounds very realistically. Opening the novel with events taking place amid a real recent cyclone quickly allows the reader to imagine themselves in the setting, and De Costa follows up with rich detail of how the lives of the relatively closed medical profession all interact to provide both an interesting community and a suspect pool.

Often when characters of minority backgrounds are depicted in popular culture the entire focus is on the element that marks them out as ‘different’. It is as if every thought or line of dialogue the person has is invisibly prefaced by the sentiment “As a disabled/Aboriginal/gay person I feel/think…”  I don’t know whether it was deliberate or not but I loved the fact that Cass Diamond, who is Aboriginal, is not depicted in this way. When it is natural as part of the story reference is made to Cass’ cultural background but there are plenty of times when she is simply a mum, a cop or a friend experiencing things in the same way as any other mum, cop or friend might do. Early on I found myself thinking ‘Hallelujah this is not going to be one of those books in which everything that happens has some kind of special meaning because Cass is Aboriginal‘. Cass is a terrifically engaging character displaying a great mix of humour, determination and intelligence and I would be happy to see more of her in the future.

The novel takes its name from the psychosis which two of its characters display. We learn something about this via the police investigation as the life of the victim is slowly fleshed out, but there’s also a secondary narrative that provides glimpses of the lives of the various people who have interacted with the central couple. This is a complex structure but De Costa pulls it off, although there are one or two superfluous interludes that indicate the novel was trying a bit too hard to provide a large pool of potential culprits.  Or perhaps I am being unfairly harsh because my aging brain found it a tad difficult to keep track of the large cast, almost all of whom were doctors.

The novel explores several themes with a light but deft touch, the most interesting of these to me being the natural human reaction to certain kinds of crime. Without giving too much away much of the core case is revealed to revolve around numerous people being blackmailed, essentially for having sex with someone they ought not to have been having sex with. The novel poses the notion that the average person is likely to feel sympathy for the blackmail victim, even when the behaviour for which that person was being blackmailed might normally be considered immoral. I found this an interesting concept to ponder and wondered if it is true whether it is a relatively recent phenomenon and whether it is the same across different cultures. I suppose these thoughts were prompted by the juxtaposition of me reading this novel  in the aftermath of the Ashley Madison hacking incident. At least some of the social media commentary arising from this sordid tale lead me to believe that not everyone’s sympathies might lie with the blackmail victims as proposed in DOUBLE MADNESS but I enjoyed the topical nature of the theme and the fact it gave me issues to think about at my leisure.

I was a little wary at the outset of this novel given ‘woman tied up and left for dead’ is a somewhat tired trope in the crime genre but De Costa takes the story somewhere very different from the run-of-the-mill slasher nonsense. It’s a fabulously Australian story with an engaging protagonist and remained completely compelling even when I realised I didn’t much care for the murder victim (yes I know that reveals rather a lot about my own personality but it can’t be helped, I struggle to care about the deaths of some fictional people). Top stuff.

aww-badge-2015This is the 11th book I’ve reviewed for this year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge (though I’ve 14 books). Check out my challenge progress and/or sign up yourself

Publisher: Margaret River Press [2015]
ISBN: 9780987561564
Length: 357 pages
Format: paperback
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Review: BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer

  • this edition published by Harper Collins Australia 2012
  • ISBN 0-7322-7131-2
  • 481 pages
  • #1 in the Harrigan and Grace series
  • winner Canberra Critics Circle Award 2002
    winner Davitt Award 2003
    Winner Ned Kelly Award Best First Novel 2003
  • Available for Kindle from Amazon

Synopsis (publisher)

Matthew Liu sees his parents gunned down on a lonely Sydney backstreet. A young woman, the killer, stares him in the face before fleeing the
scene. When the police arrive, all they find is the discarded gun.

Detective Inspector Paul Harrigan’s unit is pitched into a high-profile investigation with little to go on. Who is the young woman? How can she have vanished into thin air? When DC Grace Riordan follows up a connection between one of the victims and a termination clinic, pieces start to fall into place, but Grace is forced to confront some personal

Harrigan has demons of his own to contend with. Burned badly in the past for refusing to turn a blind eye to police corruption, he suspects that his current team and investigation is being subtly sabotaged. then he discovers that his own son is in email contact with
the killer and that the young woman’s bloody rampage is far from over.
And with a single phone call the killer draws Harrigan and Grace into her trap.

My Take

For most of the novel the reader knows who shot Matthew Liu’s parents, and after the first chapter we are pretty sure we know why.  But we don’t know a lot about what drove Lucy, a 19 year old, to commit murder, and the role of others in commissioning this act.

Grace Riordan is a new member of Paul Harrigan’s team, and he doesn’t know a lot about her, except that she has been recruited through a Graduate Entry scheme. He is amazed when the Assistant Commissioner, “the Tooth”, offers to move Grace on into Public Affairs. She has obviously has already touched a nerve, and that makes Harrigan even more determined to keep her, and hope that she fulfills the potential he has already seen.

Paul Harrigan’s son is “the Turtle”, a teenage boy who suffered oxygen deprivation at birth, and is confined to a wheelchair. Harrigan is horrified to find that Toby has been having a an email correspondence with the killer whom he knows as “the Firewall.”

This is a gritty noir novel, set in Sydney, written with an assurance of style unusual in a debut novel, and very readable.

My rating: 4.5

Review: THE DYING TRADE by Peter Corris

2012 Edition

2012 Edition

Despite Cliff Hardy’s creator, Peter Corris, having long been described locally as the godfather of Australian crime fiction I had never read one of the books featuring the Sydney-based private investigator until a couple of years ago and even then I chose to read a current book rather than delve into Hardy’s past. But this month’s Past Offences challenge to read a crime novel from 1980 gave me the motivation I needed to start at the beginning.

As well as being Peter Corris’ first foray into crime fiction THE DYING TRADE presented Australia’s first hard-boiled private investigator of any substance in the form of Cliff Hardy. The opening lines of the book make it very clear who Cliff is and demonstrate the kind of succinct yet image-rich writing style Corris would become known for

I was feeling fresh as a rose that Monday at 9:30 a.m. My booze supply had run out on Saturday night. I had no way of replenishing it on the Sabbath because we still had Sunday prohibition in Sydney then. I didn’t have a club; that’d gone a while before, along with my job as an insurance investigator. I also didn’t have a wife – not any more – or friends with well-filled refrigerators. Unless I could be bothered driving twenty-five miles to become a bona fide traveller, Sunday could be as dry as a Mormon meeting hall.

As well as being a dedicated drinker and having a somewhat cynical sense of humour, as we learn here, we also soon discover that Cliff was once a soldier, that as well as drinking to excess he smokes in a way that would be almost impossible these days given how many places the practice is illegal, the only sport he is interested in is boxing (in his most un-Australian trait he is disinterested in any brand of football) and that he is not beyond using violence to achieve his ends (though he suffers at least as much as he dishes out).

Although Corris makes no secret of the fact his inspiration for the Hardy stories were the novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler there is no mistaking that Hardy and his environment are entirely Australian. He lives in an inner-city Sydney that, at least in 1980, was still pretty close to its working class roots, and as the novel unfolds offers an intimate look at the entire city and its myriad social and geographic boundaries.  The cynicism has an Australian flavour, as does the way Hardy views different kinds of crime and the criminals who perpetrate them, operating on the basis that the worst crimes are those that generally go unpunished if not entirely unreported because they are committed by people with the money and power to make unpleasantness disappear.

The story starts out with deceptive simplicity: Hardy is asked by a wealthy businessman to investigate harassing phone calls and other threatening behaviour his sister is experiencing. But almost no one, perhaps aside from Hardy himself, is who they first appear to be in this novel so Hardy has to unravel layers of family secrets and broader corruption while dodging car bombs and other attempts to hide the truth. The resolution leaves Hardy, the novel’s surviving characters and the reader somewhat exhausted from the succession of sucker punches that fill the second half of the book.

I must admit that having only ever read very late novels to this series I had struggled to understand the widespread reverence for Cliff Hardy that I see in local crime fiction circles. But THE DYING TRADE does make it abundantly obvious why the character and his world are much admired. Well worth a read.

Publisher: Text Classics [This edition 2012, original edition 1980]

ISBN: 9781921922176

Length: 284 pages

Format: Hardcover Creative Commons Licence

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Review: THE INSANITY OF MURDER by Felicity Young

TheInsanityOfMurderYoungIn Edwardian England the suffragettes are so frustrated at the lack of success they’ve attained via political means that they introduce a more militant form of campaigning. Unfortunately their decision to blow up a building – criminal enough in its own right – becomes disastrous when it claims human life. For Dr Dody McCleland, a female autopsy surgeon, the case proves problematic as her own sister was involved. Thinking he is doing the right thing Dody’s friend (and not-so-secret lover) Chief Inspector Matthew Pike arranges for Florence’s release from prison, though the ‘rest home’ to which she is sent in replacement is scarcely less harmful to its inmates and Dody and Matthew are soon uncovering truly appalling practices.

As with its three predecessors this book uses the solving of a crime by compassionate investigators as the means of highlighting a fascinating historical subject. In this instance it is the appalling way that many women – having few rights of their own – were subjected to enforced detention and various barbaric forms of ‘treatment’ for the mental ailments they were perceived to be full of (almost always by the men who believed the women to be their possessions). The view that some men have of some (all?) women is perhaps best demonstrated by this sentiment, espoused by the head of the home to which Florence and other ‘imbalanced’ women have been consigned

Doctor Fogarty says reading’s the very worst thing a woman of delicate inclinations should be doing – it’s one of the reasons so many women get themselves into trouble these days. So to answer your question, no miss, we have no library here.

While there’s always a gentle undercurrent of humour, here much of it provided by a delightfully larger-than-life character called Lady Mary who is the mother of a nobleman and regular escapee of the facility that Florence ultimately attends, serious issues are handled with deference and intelligence. While the treatment of women is, as always, the main topic being explored the broader social context of class and racial injustice is also much in evidence.

Equally as intriguing as the historical setting are the characters. In contrast to her younger sister – the impulsive, well-meaning but sometimes thoughtless Florence – Dody McCleland chooses to advance the cause of women by being the kind of woman she thinks everyone should have a right to be. She has fought to gain her qualifications and has taken on the only work available to her but always performs it to the best of her abilities. Her personal life is not straight forward either as she must keep her relationship with Matthew a secret (or try to) even from some of the people she loves. Matthew too has to balance his professional duties with the expectations others have of him and the social norms of the day. These, for example, prevent him openly promoting a person he thinks most qualified because Constable Singh is a foreigner and his very presence in the Force is cause for unrest. I really enjoy the way Young has developed these two central characters and kept them growing and responding to the world around them. I’m also pleased that this series hasn’t become one of those with an unresolved sexual tension at its core. Although their relationship is a difficult one Dody and Matthew’s is at least a realistic one.

It’s probably hard for me to judge as I’ve devoured this novel’s predecessors but I do think you would be able to read THE INSANITY OF MURDER independently as it’s a stonkingly good story in its own right. Its historical context is worryingly credible, its characters are charming and real and the suspense builds nicely towards a surprising ending. What are you waiting for?

THE INSANITY OF MURDER will be officially released on 1 August.

aww-badge-2015This is the 12th novel I’ve read and the 10th I’ve reviewed for this year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge. Check out my challenge progress and/or sign up yourself

I have reviewed all three of the preceding three novels in this series – A DISSECTION OF MURDER (aka THE ANATOMY OF DEATH), ANTIDOTE TO MURDER and THE SCENT OF MURDER

Publisher: Harper Collins [2015]
ISBN: 9781460704677
Length: 320 pages
Format: eBook
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Review: A TIME TO RUN by J.M. Peace

ATimeToRunPeaceFrontIt would be impossible for any Australian reader not to think of the backpacker murders when embarking on A TIME TO RUN. But if, like me, you think you are ‘over’ serial killer plots I would urge you to reconsider. It is a seriously good read.

The only thing I didn’t much like about my copy was the blurb but, as is my habit these days, I didn’t read that until I’d finished the book so my reading experience wasn’t spoiled as yours might be if you read it first. The only thing I think you need to know about the story itself is that it involves a young woman, Sammi, who is kidnapped at the end of a night out. We then follow what happens to Sammi in tandem with the unfolding police investigation into her disappearance.

A TIME TO RUN is the most perfectly paced novel I have read in a very long time. Seriously, it’s perfect. There’s not a wasted word, it never drags, action unfolds quickly enough to keep the reader from wanting to put the book down at any point (I gobbled it up in a single sitting) but not so fast that you feel like the author is trying to distract you from some failing of the book. I think I had forgotten the delight of reading a truly well-paced story because it’s a pretty rare thing in these days of endless exposition and unnecessary filler content. The book has half the pages of many modern thrillers but packs twice the dramatic punch.

For those still wary of reading another book about a serial killer perhaps I can put your mind at rest by telling you that this is not one of those books that borders on celebrating the psychopath or turning him into a star. There are, thankfully, no italicised passages of his inner thoughts. Nor is he a genius of such superior intelligence to the plodding coppers that there is doubt he can ever be captured. He is just a man. A rotten-to-the-core man. We see enough of him and his actions to understand this but the book doesn’t wallow in his degrading behaviour and violence. He is not the centre of attention. The real stars of this book are the victim and the policewoman who becomes determined to find her. I particularly liked the fact that Sammi is depicted as being a random victim through no fault of her own – there is no victim blaming here. She’s also pretty darned feisty. Despite her circumstances she finds some inner strength (and a little help from another realm) with which to attempt to outwit her captor but all her actions – her successes, her mistakes and the times when she is sure she will die – are within the bounds of credibility. Janine Postlewaite is the Detective who is alerted early to Sammi’s possible disappearance. She takes speedy action to treat the case seriously – based in part on a previous experience where a delay in starting the process led to a bad outcome for another missing person – and she is persistent and thorough and smart and dedicated. If anyone you loved went missing Janine is the kind of cop you’d pray was assigned to the case.

J.M. Peace has been a police officer in Queensland for 15 years and is still serving. This experience shows, but lightly. By that I mean she hasn’t drowned the story with fascinating but ultimately pointless insider knowledge of ‘the business’ but she has given the story an underlying authenticity. The way that evidence is identified, linkages between disparate pieces of information are made, cooperation between different branches of the police service happens all pass the truthiness test and help the reader become gripped by Sammi’s plight.

So even if the phrase Wolf Creek-style killer turns you off (as it did me when I spied it on the publicity material) I’d recommend setting aside your prejudices and give this book a go. It’s got a great Australian feel to it (so many of the so-called Australian thrillers that pass my eyes make it seem like we are the fifty-somethingth state of America), rips along at just the right pace and if it doesn’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat then there’s something wrong with you, not the book. I notice that in her acknowledgements J.M. Peace thanks her editor and I’ll second that thought. While it’s clear that Peace herself is very talented (this is a debut novel!) it’s also evident that the final product has been carefully crafted from its manuscript stage and when that process is done well it can never be the work of one person. My congratulations and gratitude to everyone involved.

aww-badge-2015This is the ninth novel I’ve read and reviewed for this year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge. Check out my challenge progress and/or sign up yourself

Publisher: Pan Macmillan [2015]
ISBN: 9781743537862
Length: 229 pages
Format: paperback
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Review: A TRIFLE DEAD, Livia Day

  • format: Amazon (Kindle)
  • File Size: 602 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Deadlines (November 22, 2013)
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Synopsis (Amazon)

Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban cafe, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.

When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?

But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.

And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…

A TRIFLE DEAD is a culinary crime novel – delicious food, good coffee, cute frocks and okay, the occasional gruesome murder.

My Take

For me, one of the attractions of this novel was a new-to-me female Aussie author, followed closely by the setting in Hobart, Tasmania.

The overall feeling with this novel is chicklit/mystery which is probably not totally my cup of tea. However there is a murder to be solved, and some interesting characters to get to know. There are plenty of Amazon reviewers, mostly younger than me I suspect, who have loved it. There is a strong sense of setting and the portrayal of Hobart as a place for the young.

There are recipes at the end of the book for those who would like to try some of Tabitha Darling’s food for themselves.

Well done.

My rating: 4.0

About the author:

Day fell in love with crime fiction at an early age. Her first heroes were Miss Jane Marple and Mrs Emma Peel, and not a lot has changed since then!

She has lived in Hobart, Tasmania for most of her life, and now spends far too much time planning which picturesque tourist spot will get the next fictional corpse. You can find her online at

– See more here, and read the first chapter online.