Review: TRULY MADLY GUILTY, Liane Moriarty

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

What’s meant to be a relaxed backyard barbeque splits apart a group of friends who can’t change what they did and didn’t do that sunny afternoon.

Marriage, sex, parenthood and friendship: Liane
Moriarty takes these elements of our lives and shows us how guilt can expose the fault lines in any relationship, and it is not until we appreciate the fragility of life that we can truly value what we have.

  • Long-listed for Indie Book Awards 2017.
  • Short-listed for ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2017.

My Take

My first reaction is that this is not crime fiction, but there is plenty of mystery, puzzles that the reader wants to solve.

There are 3 couples at the backyard barbeque, 3 children from two of the families and a childless couple. The scope of the book then extends to a grumpy next door neighbour and the parents of two of the couples. The first mystery is what happened at the barbeque, what caused it, and also what preceded it.  This mystery results in plenty of tension. So I’m not going to tell you what happened at the barbeque – that would spoil the story for you. One of the characters is going around giving talks about her experience at the barbeque, but what happened?

The second focus of the book is definitely relationships, things people say and do not say, things people do. Some of these relationships have been built on over decades, and perspectives on their nature vary from character to character.

The result is, from my point of view, a very long book, and perhaps at times I was guilty of speed reading, but as you can see from my rating, I did enjoy it.

My Rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
4.6, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET
4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES

Review: A ROYAL MURDER, Sandra Winter-Dewhirst

  • this edition published by Wakefield Press March 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-74305-524-3
  • 229 pages
  • #2 in the Rebecca Keith series
  • source: review copy supplied by the publisher

Synopsis (Wakefield Press)

The duffle bag appeared to be made from expensive silk, embossed with what Rebecca thought was Chinese calligraphy. She was in no doubt that the bag contained a body. The protruding bloodied leg was a giveaway.

A macabre murder during the Women’s Australian Open golf tournament at one of Australia’s most prestigious golf courses sees food and wine journalist and amateur golfer Rebecca Keith on the murder trail once more. Fortunately, Rebecca’s sleuthing takes her on a journey of eating and drinking through many of Adelaide’s bars and restaurants. Little
does Rebecca know that her visits to nearby Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island will reveal clues that will become crucial in the hunt for a killer.

A Royal Murder, a light-hearted thriller full of intrigue and betrayal, features a full cast of eccentric characters set against the rich backdrop of South Australia and its lush food and wine culture.

My Take

I couldn’t resist taking a look at Sandra Winter-Dewhirst’s second offering, particularly as it is set in my hometown and she is a “local” author. She does a good job of spruiking local tourist attractions, both physical places, and popular events, and local readers will enjoy being able to visualise where the action is taking place.

It is a light hearted romp laced with a bit of romance, some quirky humour, and a trio of murders. As the blurb says, there are a range of eccentric characters, and semi-believable scenarios.

A satisfying read.

My rating: 4.2

I’ve also read THE POPEYE MURDER

About the author
A journalist for more than thirty years, Sandra Winter-Dewhirst spent ten years as the state director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in South Australia, overseeing television, radio, and online production. Educated at Adelaide University and the University of South Australia, graduating with degrees in the arts and journalism, she has sat on a range of arts boards and media advisory councils. Sandra has a passion for food and wine and, when time permits, tries to hit a golf ball.

Her first novel in the Rebecca Keith series is The Popeye Murder. For more information and for news about the next book, visit myadelaidehome.blogspot.com.au.

Review: THE BONE IS POINTED, Arthur Upfield – audio book

Synopsis:  (Audible)

Arthur Upfield’s The Bone is Pointed follows Inspector Bonaparte who solves mysteries in the Australian outback. Published in the 1940’s, this story not only offers up a good  mystery but also a portrait of the aborigines and Australia in the early 20th century. Peter Hosking tackles this story with verve. He speaks with a clear Australian accent while developing the characters believably, giving each his own attributes. Meanwhile, his varied pacing makes the story easy to follow. Mystery lovers and history buffs alike will have fun with the Inspector Bonaparte Mysteries.

Jack Anderson was a big man with a foul temper, a sadist and a drunk. Five months after his horse appeared riderless, no trace of the man has surfaced and no one seems to care. But Bony is determined to follow the cold trail and smoke out some answers. 

My Take

In this tale Bony appears as a Queensland C.I.B. detective on leave, turning up at an outback station where a rouseabout has gone missing during a storm. His horse turns up at the station the morning after the storm riderless and there is no trace of Jack Anderson. No black trackers are available because the whole local tribe has gone to visit a female elder thought to be dying. By the time a tracker can be found heavy rains have obliterated Anderson’s tracks.

During the story Bony becomes ill with the “Barcoo sickness” but station owner is convinced that the bones has been pointed at him. At first Bony is determined that he will not succumb but he becomes weaker and weaker despite the attempts of the local policeman to help him.

Bony is also proud of his reputation that no case that he has tackled has ever gone unsolved, but that is because he stays on the case until the very end, despite telegrams from his superiors that he must return to the city immediately.

What impressed me was the detailed observations of Aboriginal culture and customs that the author must have recorded. He also presents both sides of the argument with regard to preserving aboriginal heritage. One station family in particular recognise the damage that contact with white people has done to the aborigines, but at the same time are a bit patronising in the way they deal with the aborigines on their station. The character who has disappeared has mistreated aboriginal stockmen, whipping one almost to death, and so is very unpopular. No-one can work out why “Old Lacey” the station owner has kept him on.

There is more than one mystery in this book, and it is good reading, despite the warning from the publisher that Arthur Upfield reflects attitudes of his time, not necessarily views we would share today.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET
4.3, MR JELLY’S BUSINESS 
4.5, DEATH OF A LAKE 

Review: ON THE JAVA RIDGE, Jock Serong

  • this edition published by Text Publishing 2017
  • ISBN 9781925498394
  • 312 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (Text Publishing)

Shortlisted for the Indie Awards 2018

On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a federal election looms and a hardline new policy on asylum-seekers is being rolled out.

Not far from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers on board fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm
now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.

My Take

It is a week to the Australian Federal election, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Border Security are emphasising the success of the government’s policy on boat asylum seekers. Arrivals in Australian waters are almost unknown because all boats heading for Australia are being processed by the Indonesian authorities. Surveillance of Australian waters has been outsourced and the Australian  Navy will now take no action to assist asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Two boats, very similar in design, but one much better equipped, are heading towards Australia through Indonesia. One is a surf charter boat containing Australian tourists looking for big waves to surf and the other is an Indonesian fishing boat filled with Middle Eastern refugees. That these two boats will meet is an inevitable part of the plot.

Predictably part of the plot is about how the government’s new hardline policy will impact on both these boats, but my wildest dreams did not predict the ending.

The book raises some interesting scenarios among them an explanation of why so few boats have reached Ashmore Reef recently. The Prime Minister sees Cassius
Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, as a weak link, a loose cannon, although his hold on his own seat is thought to be better than that of the Prime Minister. Interesting insights into the workings of the Australian Cabinet.

My rating: 5.0

Also reviewed by Bernadette

I’ve also reviewed
5.0, THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET

Review: DEATH OF A LAKE, Arthur Upfield – audio book

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Features Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte(Bony), a detective of mixed European and Aboriginal heritage.
On a vast sheep station in the outback Raymond Gillen goes swimming in the lake one night and is never seen
again. Bony arrives disguised as a horsebreaker and uncovers a story of sexual tension and murder. The lake is evaporating in the intense drought, only when it is drained will the mystery be solved.

My Take

The audio book begins with the usual warning that the publisher does not ascribe to Upfield’s now politically incorrect views. However they do reflect popularly held opinions, particularly abour aborigines, in the 1950s.

The story moves a bit slowly in this tale because Lake Otway, a lake that had filled three years before because of flooding in the north, is in the process of evaporating and dying. There are wonderful descriptions of what happens as the lake gets shallower and shallower and smaller and smaller. At the same time the rabbit population blows out. The daily temperature is well over 110F and the outstation near the lake burns to the ground one night.

You can’t help but be impressed by Upfield’s detailed observations of life on Outback stations.

Bony turns up (undercover) to investigate the Ray Gillen’s disappearance and discovers that all the hands living at the outstation have, unusually, stayed on since Gillen’s disappearance, not taking holidays and so on. Something is keeping them all there.

The tension builds very well, and the narration by Peter Hosking is in a class of its own.

My rating: 4.5

I’ve also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET
4.3, MR JELLY’S BUSINESS