2018 Reading Reminiscences

Given how long it took me to get the spelling of reminiscences right, I think I'm still in holiday mode. Or a lousy speller. We took a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year and actually took the time off - very little was done on computers, tablets and smartphones. We nearly melted in a couple of early season heatwaves that just reinforce the idea that we're all going to hell in an incinerator ... where was I oh yeah, 2018 Reading Reminiscences. There were some very good books around in 2018 and this is less recommendation and more a meander around in the ones I really enjoyed. YMMV.

In no particular order:

First Dog on the Moon's Guide to Living Through the Impending Apocalypse. Laughed and cringed in equal measure...

Sherlock Holmes, The Australian Casebook. Great selection of short stories, cleverly done.

Baby, Annaleese Jochems. Most unusual and badly overdue for review to be posted.

Headland / Class Act, Ged Gillmore. First and second novels in the Bill Murdoch series which is shaping up very well indeed. Lone wolf, wisecracking mean streets walker (if you include beachside towns in mean streets) this is a series to keep an eye on.

The Sound of Her Voice, Nathan Blackwell. Dark, unrelenting debut novel by a NZ cop turned novelist (true identity concealed), this is not 100% pitch perfect and slick but then I'm not sure that would have served the author's aims. Raw, full of realistic emotion, reactions and voices it's about as authentic a police perspective as you'd get, maintaining its essential "Kiwiness" exploring a descent that's probably all too real for law enforcement the world over.

Tess, Kirsten McDougall. Another from the NZ stacks - this is an unexpected little gem of a novel.

The Only Secret Left to Keep, Katherine Hayton. The third book in the Ngaire Blakes series that gets better and better with each outing.

Redemption Point, Candice Fox. Brilliant as usual.

Turn A Blind Eye, Neil A White. Debut novel set in the world of banking and tennis (yep!). Very good. Very timely.

Perfect Criminals, Jimmy Thomson. Few minor quibbles but everybody needs a good laugh and this delivers on that in spades.

Under the Cold Bright Lights, Garry Disher. Hopefully the start of a new series built around a cold case investigator which, frankly, was brilliant.

The Portrait of Molly Dean, Katherine Kovacic. Pitch perfect debut, featuring a clever idea, and a great new series character.

Second Sight, Aoife Clifford. 2018 saw the rise and rise of "rural noir" and whilst this one is a tiny bit outside the strict rules of location setting it qualifies in my mind, and was a hell of a good book into the bargain.

The Last Escape, John Killick. An honest appraisal of a life that included a lot of stupid mistakes. Worth reading for the salutory lesson in how quickly things can go wrong for some kids, and for the positive message that eventually he's got the ship turned around.

The Nowhere Child, Christian White. Pointed commentary on fundamentalism of all persuasions and a good reminder that the past doesn't always go quietly.

The Ruin, Dervla McTiernan. A stonkingly good debut novel, populated by excellent characters, dripping with intrigue and menace, heralding heaps of potential.

The Sunday Girl, Pip Drysdale. From the never judge a book by its cover category, this is cleverly constructed. With a light tone and approachable central protagonist it explores abuse, victimisation, control and revenge in an accessible, impressively sneaky manner.

Retribution, Richard Anderson. Rural noir of the non-murder type that's elegantly written, beautifully evocative and better still accurate in its portrayal of life and character.

Greenlight, Benjamin Stevenson. Another from a rural setting that is delivered with some accuracy and authority, this thriller is about crime, greed, money, influence, bad decisions and human frailty and nastiness.

Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up, Gabrielle Chan. If you're a rural resident and you're not fed up then I have no idea how you manage that. Worth reading for a perspective that's part incomer, and part political savvy.

No One Can Hear You, Nikki Crutchley. Another from over the ditch - wherein there is heaps and heaps of very good crime fiction these days. Crutchley is particularly good at female characters who are struggling with all sorts of issues, problems, pasts and insecurities.

Heaven Sent, Alan Carter. Cato Kwong is back in the fourth novel in the series and frankly, it's about bloody time.

Into the Fog, Sandi Wallace. Wallace has set this in the Dandenong Ranges (where she lives) and the sense of place, weather and landscape and the menace they can produce is good. 

Live and Let Fry, Sue Williams. Third in the Cass Tuplin series this is Australia comic crime fiction of the best kind. Rural setting which is pretty good, slightly silly, often laugh out loud, this is another one of those series that is settling into its straps very nicely indeed.

The Echo of Others, S.D. Rowell. Debut novel with heaps of potential. Good sense of place, excellent central character who should be able to carry an ongoing series, and a cleverly balanced plot.

Kill Shot, Garry Disher. Wyatt's back and he's as predictable as ever, unless you include the less predictable elements - a bit of humanity / vulnerability / a conscience even....

The Lost Man, Jane Harper. Harper back writing about people on the edge - where she's at her very best. This is stellar this one. Absolutely stellar.

My Name is Revenge: A novella, Ashley Kalagian Blunt.  Amazing novella that is moving and informative. Its history lesson is worthwhile, but even more so is its exploration of family, community and outsiders.

The Man Who Died, Antti Tuomainen. Listened to this on audio and it won my "most unexpected crime fiction novel of the year award". Intriguing, laughed more than you should when the narrator is a man who is being slowly poisoned to death and he knows it. Started listening to Palm Beach Finland straight away.

The Rookie's Guide to Espionage, Dave Sinclair. Eva Destruction is back, Europe is on a knife's edge, a there's a distinct lack of good coffee in Eva's life. These are fun. Such good fun.

The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire, Chloe Hooper. Uncomfortable reading rural and urban fringe dwellers, but possibly one that should be required reading. The portrait of this arsonist isn't an easy one to deal with.

The Promised Land, Barry Maitland. Brock and Kolla #13, Maitland handles the ongoing working relationship between retired Brock and promoted Kolla with great aplomb.

The Dying Trade, Peter Corris. Promised myself a new tradition of rereading the Cliff Hardy series during the Boxing Day test. The #INDvsAUS test series has been disappointing at times but the opening salvo in this series wasn't.

The Trauma Cleaner, Sarah Krasnostein. A much talked about book, the life of Sandra Pankhurst has been anything but straight-forward and she is such an impressive person. 

Preservation, Jock Serong. Repeat after yourself Karen, stop faffing about this year and read the books that you know are going to be good when they arrive. 

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