May / June on AustCrimeFiction

After managing to keep this up for quite a few months - I forgot to do May and now I'm late with June.... 

Read / To be Reviewed:

The Long Con, Barry Weston (Aust)

Frank Cousins is a knockabout bloke; an ex-Queensland cop turned private eye who - it has to be said - is his own worst enemy. Owner and sole employee of the Tasmanian Private Investigation Agency in Hobart, Frank takes on three simple cases and soon finds himself up to his neck in bad guys, bad situations and, as usual, bad behaviour. Money-for-jam, these three cases: find a missing woman, get the dirt on a philandering state politician, and provide personal protection for a wealthy, elderly matriarch - figurehead of a Tasmanian environmental group. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as Frank's dear old departed Mum always said: 'nothing in life is what it first appears to be'.

The Twisted Knot, J.M. Peace (Aust)

After her abduction and near death at the hands of a sadistic killer, Constable Samantha Willis is back in the uniform. Despite being on desk duty, rumours reach Sammi that Someone in Angel's Crossing has been hurting little girls, and before long a mob is gathering to make sure justice is served. So when a man is found hanging in his shed, the locals assume the pedophile has finally given in to his guilt. That is, until Sammi delves further into the death and uncovers a dark family secret, an unsolved crime and a town desperate for vengeance.

Siren of the Waters, Michael Genelin

Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as a young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter’s respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice. 

The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

Reviewed:

Prohibited Zone, Alastair Sarre (Aust)

Steve West, mining engineer and ex-footy star, just wants a dirty weekend in town, but he can't stop people telling him their secrets. When crusading Kara incites a breakout in the desert, Westie finds himself her reluctant accomplice. Soon he's got a runaway asylum seeker in tow, and all the world, it seems, on his tail.

Amplify, Mark Hollands (Aust)

Music promoter Billy Lime is in trouble. The tour of rock legends, The Pagan Virtue, is the biggest in music history. Their concerts in Australia should be a career highlight if Billy can keep the warring musicians off the drugs, out of the bars and on the stage.

The Long Weekend, Terry R Barca (Aust)

Sam and Scarlett have been married for a little over a year. Scarlett has recently inherited her fathers multimillion dollar business empire and Sam has retired from being a private detective to help Scarlett run the business. A four day weekend at the Windsor, designed as a ‘getaway’ from the pressures of their new life is interrupted by Detective Inspector Blank, who tries to entice Sam out of retirement to help him with a high profile murder committed not far from Sam and Scarlett’s iconic hotel, The Windsor.

Hunted, Jasper Wolf (Aust)

Melbourne is a city living in fear. A sadistic killer is on the loose. Policewomen are being targeted and the count stands at seven. 

The Swap, Greg Moriarty (Aust)

Dom Tolen craves a simple life. He keeps his head down at work, jogs off his midweek beers and busies himself with jigsaw puzzles. What riles him is his irksome twin, Donald. Separated from his wife and making his presence felt holed up in Dom’s spare room, Donald turns to pestering him to play a practical joke. Caught off guard, Dom agrees. The episode, with its disastrous results, changes his carefully constructed life forever.

The Amazing Mrs Livesey, Freda Marnie Nicholls (Aust)

Ethel Livesey was quite a gal. An attractive young woman from a respectable middle-class family in Manchester, she had over 40 aliases, eight official marriages, four children and five divorces. Her story stretches from industrial England to the French Riviera, from Ireland to New York, Shanghai, New Zealand, the Isle of Man and across Australia. Ethel claimed she was a cotton heiress, wartime nurse, casino hostess, stowaway, artist, opera singer, gambler, spy, close friend of the King, air raid warden, charity queen and even wife of Australian test cricketer Jack Fingleton.

A Straits Settlement, Brian Stoddart (Aust)

In the third instalment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged. Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labor recruitment and antiquities theft...

Six Four, Hideo Yokoyama

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter's kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police's apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as 'Six Four'. They would never forgive the authorities their failure.

The Blood on My Hands, Shannon O'Leary (Aust)

Set in 1960s and '70s Australia, "The Blood on My Hands" is the dramatic tale of Shannon O'Leary's childhood years. O'Leary grew up under the shadow of horrific domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, and serial murder. Her story is one of courageous resilience in the face of unimaginable horrors. The responses of those whom O'Leary and her immediate family reach out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives are afraid to bring disgrace to the family's good name, nuns condemn the child's objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevent the police from interfering unless someone is killed.

Clinch, Martin Holmén

The writing's on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. When women can't satisfy him, men can. But one biting winter's night he pays a threatening visit to a debtor named Zetterberg, and when the man is found dead shortly afterwards, all eyes are on Kvist.

Lethal in Love, Michelle Somers (Aust)

Jayda Thomasz is a sassy homicide detective who never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation. Seth Friedin is a reporter chasing the story that'll make his career. When he enters the world of swinging for research, he never imagines he'll be distracted by a hard-talking female detective whose kiss plagues his mind long after she's gone.

The Falling Detective, Christoffer Carlsson

Leo Junker is back in the snake pit — aka the homicide unit — after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty. Then a sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat. But who?

Harry's World, A.B. Patterson (Aust)

PI Harry Kenmare is a prehistoric private detective in an unfriendly modern world. His life revolves around drinking, fine food, smoking, and fast women, preferably the ones he has to pay for, in cash. So what better CV for trawling through Sydney's corrupt social and political elites, who cravenly chase power and wealth behind veneers of respectability.

The Boy, Gary L. Clarke (Aust)

Thirteen-year-old Jamie Gilroy was the sole witness to the murder of his entire family five years ago. Now in protective custody and boarding at a special-needs school, the damaged boy hasn't spoken a word since his traumatic experience. That is, until he strays from a school excursion and stumbles upon a woman's body at the mysterious Trinity Quarry.

Blood, Wine & Chocolate, Julie Thomas (NZ)

A blackly comic murder mystery involving very expensive wine and an overdose of chilli chocolate. Two little boys start out as friends but their lives take two different paths. One becomes all he wants to be and is 'saved' by marrying a woman with the strength to keep him on the right side of the law and he has something to live for. The other is a boy who is given no choice about his life and the person he will become and the things he will do. When they meet again the contrast is stark. Like the 'Cain and Abel' story, but more violent.

The Death Ray Debacle, David McGill (NZ)

In June 1935 Takapuna inventor Victor Penny was attacked by foreign agents seeking what the newspapers dubbed a ‘death ray’. The government secretly shifted him to Somes Island in Wellington harbour to develop the weapon. The novel of this true story is told by Temporary Acting Detective Dan Delaney, seconded to Special Branch, forerunner of the Security Intelligence Service.

Death of a Friend, Desmond L Kelly (Aust)

In Sydney, when lawyer Richard Catlin lies dead of a stab wound, Karl Landry, a forensic accountant, blames himself for allowing the police to cause him to doubt the integrity of his best and closest friend. He strives to find the truth, learns to trust Detective Inspector Fiona Collins, and traces the paths of art and science fraud, involving paintings by Caravaggio and Mondrian, and the deaths of people ensnared. Those paths lead to the European Mafia and bring Karl Landry to the brink of his own death - from which he is saved by.... 

The Legend of Winstone Blackhat, Tanya Moir (NZ)

In Winstone’s imagination, the Kid and his partner ride through the Wild West on the trail of their quarry. In Winstone’s actual life, he’s had to abandon his ‘partner’ and is hiding out in the tough landscape of Central Otago. What has this boy run from, and how will the resilient and engaging twelve-year-old survive?

Made to Kill, Adam Christopher (Aust)

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.

Front Page News, Katie Rowney (Aust)

Cadet journalist Stacey McCallaghan is struggling to find anything newsworthy to report on in the small country town of Toomey. Front-page stories consist of the price of cattle and lawn bowls results, and Stacey spends more time laying out the crossword than covering actual news. Until the first dead body turns up.

Black Sails, Disco Inferno, Andrez Bergen (Aust)

Black Sails, Disco Inferno retells the classic medieval romance of Tristan and Iseult by turning things on their head, reversing the sex of our chief protagonists, and then placing them in a '70s pulp/noir world. Andrez Bergen's latest novel (with Renee Asher Pickup) exposes Trista and Issy to a sensual, disco-infused narrative — one overflowing with double-dealings, violent brutality, and a spellbinding mystery.

The Mistake, Grant Nicol (NZ)

Everybody Makes Mistakes! A mutilated body is found on a lonely street in Reykjavík. Detective Grímur intends to see that justice is done.

Eraserbyte, Cat Connor (NZ)

Washington D.C. is burning, blowing up before SSA Ellie Conway’s eyes. More than ever she needs her controversial connections to prevent more terror attacks and horrifying deaths. Surveillance footage mysteriously wiped away, explosions rocking the city, people blown apart, an insider forging Ellie’s signature to release suspects, and her helicopter taken down, all challenge Delta A to find the link between the terror attacks, international trade in missing girls, coded price lists and a rogue Interpol agent. 

The Snowman, Jo Nesbo

Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf. 

Through a Camel's Eye, Dorothy Johnston (Aust)

A young camel disappears from its trainer's paddock and the coat of a murdered woman is found abandoned in the sand dunes. These seemingly unrelated events are a far cry from the regular police duties of Constable Chris Blackie and his rookie recruit from Melbourne, Anthea Merritt, in the small seaside town of Queenscliff. Little by little and with a burgeoning sense of menace, these two unlikely detectives carefully navigate the eclectic, often eccentric personalities of the town, as well as the disdain of law enforcement colleagues further afield, to uncover the unsettling truth.

Elementary: The Ghost Line, Adam Christopher (NZ)

Summons to a bullet-riddled body in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment marks the start of a new case for consulting detectives Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. The victim is a subway train driver with a hidden stash of money and a strange Colombian connection, but why would someone kill him and leave a fortune behind? The search for the truth will lead the sleuths deep into the hidden underground tunnels beneath New York City, where answers—and more bodies—may well await them...  

Dark Fires Shall Burn, Anna Westbrook (Aust)

Sydney, 1946. Eleven-year-old Frances and her best friend, Nancy, are growing up in the doglegged streets of Newtown and into a world they do not understand. It is the aftermath of World War II, and thousands of damaged soldiers have returned to their homes, bearing the psychological scars of battle with them.

The Mark of Halam, Thomas Ryan (NZ)

USS Ulysses: State-of-the-art nuclear submarine. Deterrent. Target. When an Olympic medalist is the subject of an attempted assassination, former SAS trooper Jeff Bradley knows his past is once again casting a shadow over his new life. A note left by the assassin confirms his suspicions: Bradley made an enemy back in Kosovo, and the man is out for revenge. But Jeff knows the killer is not working alone: higher up the ranks sits Avni Leka, a terrorist warlord who will stop at nothing to achieve his bloody goal.

The Murder Trail, Leonie Mateer (NZ)

Audrey is a psychopath and a serial killer residing in a coastal town in the rural far north of New Zealand. Audrey discovers a drug cartel is using her Tiromoana Cabin Resort for cocaine trafficking. She appears to be helping the police when the drugs go missing and bodies start turning up, but is she? 

Robert Goodman's Reviews:

The Plea, Steve Cavanagh

The Long Count, JM Gulvin

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts, AK Benedict

The Dry, Jane Harper

Andrea Thompson's Reviews:

The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks

The Obsession, Nora Roberts

Darkness, Karen Robards

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