August / September on AustCrimeFiction

August and September combined because - yep I forgot.

Read / To be Reviewed:

The Falls, B. Michael Radburn (Aust)

Damaged but not yet broken, park ranger Taylor Bridges believes his ghosts are in the past - until a raging forest fire in an isolated canyon of The Falls lays bare the remains of a young woman… and a decade-old killing ground. After the police enlist Taylor in their investigation, the evidence bizarrely points to a deranged preacher who reigned over The Falls a century ago. But when a crucial witness and a policewoman disappear, it’s clear that a disciple of The Falls’ dark history is on the loose.

Never Never, James Patterson & Candice Fox (Aust)

When Sydney police department sex crimes detective Harriet Blue is called into her boss’s office, she never imagined it would be to tell her that her brother is the prime suspect in the brutal murders of three women. Shocked and in denial, Harry is transferred to Perth to avoid the media exposure this case will attract. Harry is sent into the outback – the never never – to investigate the disappearance of mine worker Danny Carter. The mining town is a seedy place, full of money and immoral ways to spend it. As Harry delves deeper into the murky lives of these miners, she finds that Danny isn’t the first to go missing.

I'm Travelling Alone, Samuel Bjørk

A six year old girl is found hanging from a tree. Around her neck is an airline tag which says 'I'm travelling alone'. A special homicide unit in Oslo is re-opened with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. He must convince his erstwhile partner, Mia Kruger, an extremely talented but eccentric investigator, to leave the solitary island to which she has retreated in order to take her own life. When scrutinising the murder files, Mia spots the number One carved into the dead girl's fingernail. She returns to duty to prevent more little girls falling victim to a terrifying, revenge-driven serial killer...

Darkest Place, Jaye Ford (Aust)

Carly Townsend is starting over after a decade of tragedy and pain. In a new town and a new apartment she's determined to leave the memories and failures of her past behind. However that dream is shattered in the dead of night when she is woken by the shadow of a man next to her bed, silently watching her. And it happens week after week.

A Secret to the Grave, Jane Blythe (Aust)

A suicide. A secret. To the grave.

That was the promise that ten girls made many years ago, and now the time has come when they will be forced to make a choice. Keep the secret and lose their lives, or reveal it and risk the lives of others. Detective Parker Bell has just returned to work after shooting dead a killer, when he and his partner land the case of a young woman abducted by a man who has left a list of clues pointing to nine other women he plans to kill.

Nothing Short of Dying, Erik Storey

Sixteen years. That’s how long Clyde Barr has been away from Colorado’s thick forests, alpine deserts, and craggy peaks, running from a past filled with haunting memories. But now he’s back, having roamed across three continents as a hunter, adventurer, soldier of fortune, and most recently, unjustly imprisoned convict. And once again, his past is reaching out to claim him.

Reviewed:

The Serpent's Sting, Robert Goodman (Aust)

William Power, actor and sometime private inquiry agent, has returned from the Northern Territory, shaken, stirred, and generally discombobulated. 'I survived the tropics with my life and my looks intact, despite the best efforts of the flora, fauna, and Military Intelligence to steal both from me.' It is late 1942, and in what he believes is a demeaning sideshow to the war, he finds himself playing a pantomime dame. If only this was his only worry, but, as his great hero, Shakespeare, noted, 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.' Can Will finally overcome his tendency to be the living embodiment of Murphy's Law?

Dead Men Don't Order Flake, Sue Williams (Aust)

On the night Leo Stone returns—notionally from the dead, in reality from the Democratic Republic of the Congo—Cass Tuplin gets a call from Gary Kellett. A call about an actual dead person: Gary’s daughter, killed in a car crash. Gary’s adamant it wasn’t an accident.

Man in the Corner, Nathan Besser (Aust)

When David's wife confesses that she was once a prostitute, the revelation doesn't disturb him - he considers it simply an error of youth. But the following night David collapses from a rare brain disease and within a few months his world is turned upside down.

Norfolk, Noleen Jordan (Aust)

A tiny tropical paradise off the coast of Australia, Norfolk Island is notoriously laid-back, its inhabitants friendly and independent-minded. They have to be—with no defences and no way to get immediate assistance from the mainland, Norfolk’s population learned to be self-reliant.

The Dry, Jane Harper (Aust)

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ... When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

The Rules of Backyard Cricket, Jock Serong (Aust)

It starts in a suburban backyard with Darren Keefe and his older brother, sons of a fierce and gutsy single mother. The endless glow of summer, the bottomless fury of contest. All the love and hatred in two small bodies poured into the rules of a made-up game. Darren has two big talents: cricket and trouble. No surprise that he becomes an Australian sporting star of the bad-boy variety—one of those men who’s always got away with things and just keeps getting. Until the day we meet him, middle aged, in the boot of a car. Gagged, cable-tied, a bullet in his knee. Everything pointing towards a shallow grave.

The Alo Release, Geoffrey Robert (NZ)

The Alo Release is a thriller exposing the potential for public opinion to be manipulated during an international crisis. Nine days before the global release of a genetically modified seed coating set to make starvation history, the IT advisor for an environmental group receives a cryptic email from an old friend working for the seed corporation.

Certain Admissions, Gideon Haigh (Aust / True Crime)

On a warm evening in December 1949, two young people met by chance under the clocks at Flinders Street railway station. They decided to have a night on the town. The next morning, one of them, twenty-year-old typist Beth Williams, was found dead on Albert Park Beach. When police arrested the other, Australia was transfixed: twenty-four-year-old John Bryan Kerr was a son of the establishment, a suave and handsome commercial radio star educated at Scotch College, and Harold Holt's next-door neighbour in Toorak.

The Love of a Bad Man, Laura Elizabeth Woollett (Aust)

A schoolgirl catches the eye of the future leader of Nazi Germany. An aspiring playwright writes to a convicted serial killer, seeking inspiration. A pair of childhood sweethearts reunite to commit rape and murder. A devoted Mormon wife follows her husband into the wilderness after he declares himself a prophet. The twelve stories in The Love of a Bad Man imagine the lives of real women, all of whom were the lovers, wives, or mistresses of various ‘bad’ men in history. Beautifully observed, fascinating, and at times horrifying, the stories interrogate power, the nature of obsession, and the lengths some women will go to for the men they love.

Two Days, Iain Ryan (Aust)

A political operative in search of a Senator’s wayward son. A vice-ridden tropical island. This case is way, way too much… John Dannen is a mysterious and violent man, employed by a powerful Senator. The Senator’s son is causing trouble and even worse, he’s doing it on Tunnel Island, a neon hell-hole run by gambling conglomerates, organized crime and a corrupt police force. But the case is simple enough: hand-deliver a message, get out alive..

Mima, Shirley Eldridge (Aust / True Crime)

Author Shirley Eldridge and Mima Joan McKim-Hill were friends and colleagues working for the Capricornia Regional Electricity Board in Rockhampton in 1967 when Mima disappeared while on the job. She had been abducted, raped and murdered and her body abandoned. Shirley tells this deeply personal story, starting with the events leading up to the abduction, and continuing through to 40 years later, with the re-evaluation of the evidence, the unravelling of the lies, and finally, the naming of the killer.

In the Cold, Dark Ground, Stuart MacBride

Sergeant Logan McRae is in trouble… His missing-persons investigation has just turned up a body in the woods – naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin bag duct-taped over its head. The Major Investigation Team charges up from Aberdeen, under the beady eye of Logan’s ex-boss Detective Chief Inspector Steel. And, as usual, she wants him to do her job for her.

Black Water Lilies, Michel Bussi

Giverny. During the day, tourists flock to the former home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his Water Lilies. But when silence returns, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village. This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet's Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Bad Blood, Gary Kemble (Aust)

Freelance journalist Harry Hendrick is beginning to realise that you’re only as good as your last exclusive, and buzz doesn’t pay the bills, when he’s blackmailed by the police into investigating a series of bizarre suicides.

Traces of Red, Paddy Richardson (NZ)

Rebecca Thorne is a successful television journalist, but her world is thrown into turmoil when her Saturday night programme is axed because of falling ratings. Not only will she lose her job but her big story on the convicted triple murderer Connor Bligh, whom Rebecca believes is innocent, has to be abandoned.

Blood Wedding, Pierre Lemaitre

Sophie is haunted by the things she can't remember - and visions from the past she will never forget. One morning, she wakes to find that the little boy in her care is dead. She has no memory of what happened. And whatever the truth, her side of the story is no match for the evidence piled against her. Her only hiding place is in a new identity. A new life, with a man she has met online. But Sophie is not the only one keeping secrets ...

Gunshine State, Andrew Nette (Aust)

Gary Chance is a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief. His latest job sees him in Queensland working for Dennis Curry, an aging Surfers Paradise standover man. Curry runs off-site, non-casino poker games, and wants to rob one of his best customers, a high roller called Frederick 'Freddie' Gao.

Australia's Toughest Prisons: Inmates, James Phelps (True Crime / Aust)

These are the true and uncensored accounts of Australia’s hardest inmates, from Australia’s hardest inmates. Martin Bryant – who killed 35 people and injured another 23 at Port Arthur in 1996 – is a 160kg slob who trades sex for chocolate in Risdon Prison. Twenty years after Australia’s worst massacre, his blond hair is gone, and so is his self-righteous smirk . . . but he is as evil as ever, showing no remorse for the crimes that shook the nation. He is just one of the killers in the rogues’ gallery of Australia's Toughest Prisons: Inmates.

Pentridge: Behind the Bluestone Walls, Don Osborne (True Crime / Aust)

When Don Osborne went to Pentridge in 1970, he found a nineteenth-century penal establishment in full working order. It held about 1200 inmates, most of them cooped up in tiny stone cells that sweltered in summer and froze in winter. Some had no sewerage or electric light. Assigned to teach in the high-security section of the prison, Don worked in the chapel, which doubled as a classroom during the week. There, he saw the terrible effects of the violence that permeated H Division, the prison’s punishment section. He found himself acting as confidant and counsellor to some of the best-known criminals of this era, and to others who’d become notorious later, after H Division had worked its magic on them.

Robert Goodman's Reviews:

Made to Kill, Adam Christopher (NZ)

Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, as good as he ever was at being a true Private Investigator, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency--except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray's inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret.

Never Never, James Patterson & Candice Fox (Aust)

Detective Harriet Blue needs to get out of town, fast. With her brother under arrest for a series of brutal murders in Sydney, Harry’s chief wants the hot-headed detective kept far from the press. So he assigns her a deadly new case - in the middle of the Outback. Deep in the Western Australian desert, three young people have disappeared from the Bandya Mine. And it's Harry's job to track them down.

Devour, L.A. Larkin (Aust)

Their greatest fear was contaminating an ancient Antarctic lake, buried beneath the ice for millions of years. They little knew about the catastrophe they were about to unleash. Welcome to the high octane world of Olivia Wolfe.

Surrender New York, Caleb Carr

In the small town of Surrender in upstate New York, Dr. Jones, a psychological profiler, and Dr. Michael Li, a trace evidence expert, teach online courses in profiling and forensic science from Jones’s family farm. Once famed advisors to the New York City Police Department, Trajan and Li now work in exile, having made enemies of those in power. Protected only by farmhands and Jones’s unusual “pet,” the outcast pair is unexpectedly called in to consult on a disturbing case.

Darktown, Thomas Mullen

The award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today's headlines. Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

Underground Airlines, Ben H. Winters

Victor has escaped his life as a slave, but his freedom came at a high price. Striking a bargain with the government, he has to live his life working as a bounty hunter. And he is the best they’ve ever trained. A mystery to himself, Victor tries to suppress his memories of his own childhood and convinces himself that he is just a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he is desperate to preserve. But in tracking his latest target, he can sense that that something isn’t quite right.

The Windy Season, Sam Carmody (Aust)

A young fisherman is missing from the crayfish boats in the West Australian 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 the boat skippered by their troubled cousin, 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.

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