Aussie Authors Update #3

My reviews of Aussie crime fiction are published exclusively at my other blog, Fair Dinkum Crime, which I co-host with fellow Australian blogger and crime fiction fan Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise. But I like to do an occasional wrap-up of my recent Aussie crime fiction reads here at Reactions to Reading

PRIME CUT by Alan Carter

Synopsis: Philip ‘Cato’ Kwong was once, literally, the poster boy for Western Australia’s police force. Of Chinese descent he represented a new kind of recruit and, for a while, he could do no wrong. But as this book opens he is disgraced, having been involved in a frame-up that was discovered. He has been assigned to one of the worst jobs in the force in hopes he will resign. But when a body, or part of one, washes up on shore in a small mining town six hundred kilometres south east of Perth, Cato has a second chance to prove that he is, or can be, a good cop after all. At the same a cold case that had its origins in northern England more than 30 years ago rears its very ugly head.

Review summary: Prime Cut has an outstanding sense of both its geographical and social setting, taking place in rural Australia amidst the latest mining boom with all that implies. Carter has also created some compelling characters and provided some thoughtful, delicate insight into some topical issues. A brilliant and highly recommended read.

The full review is at Fair Dinkum Crime, My rating 4.5/5 Since I posted this review Prime Cut was awarded the 2011 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction

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KISS OF DEATH by P D Martin

Synopsis: The book opens with Los Angeles based FBI profiler Sophie Anderson being called in on a case involving the death of a young woman in a state park. Normally Sophie’s team would not be called in so early on in an investigation but the woman’s body has two puncture wounds on the neck and appears to have been drained of blood so the lead detective on the case engages the FBI to cover her bases. They soon learn that the woman, an acting student called Sherry Taylor, had recently become interested in the local vampire sub culture which, given the nature of her death, opens up an avenue of investigation that takes the team into a possible cult-like group in the midst of the city.

Review Summary: I really liked the way the book delved into the subject of cults/new religious movements without being sensationalist or judgemental and enjoyed the balance of investigative procedure and personal life. I did think the ‘woo woo’ element was a little more over the top than usual in this series though.

The full review is at Fair Dinkum Crime 3/5 stars.

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BEREFT by Chris Womersley (audio)

Synopsis: One stormy day in 1909 in the (fictional) former gold-rush town of Flint, New South Wales, Quinn Walker is found by his father and uncle standing beside the body of his 12 year-old sister; a bloody knife in his hand. Quinn runs away and is not seen or heard from again until his mother receives a telegram seven years later reporting that he has died, on the battlefields of WWI. However after the war is over Quinn, now 26, is de-mobbed in Sydney and makes his way back to Flint, having been compelled by a spooky encounter while in London. He arrives to find the town in the grip of a world-wide flu epidemic, his own mother among those dying, and everyone so convinced he is guilty his sister’s murder that he will be killed on sight if he is recognised. He hides out in the hills surrounding his old home where he is befriended by a young orphan girl named Sadie while he struggles to find a course of action to prove his claim of innocence.

Review Summary: I found this a difficult read. On the one had there is the writing which is nothing short of brilliant In stark, sparse prose and using superb imagery Womersley has depicted the state of being bereft with such nuance and depth that even a reader who has never experienced such an all-consuming loss will feel like they have by the end of this novel. But is unrelentingly bleak, having only a single tone and was a struggle to keep reading for that reason.

The full review is at Fair Dinkum Crime and I never did give this one a rating.

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DEAD MAN’S CHEST by Kerry Greenwood (audio)

Synopsis: In the 18th instalment of the Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee) Fisher series set in 1920′s Australia, Phryne and her entourage have left Melbourne for a summer holiday in the seaside town of Queenscliff. They are to occupy the home of an anthropologist acquaintance of Phryne’s but when they arrive they find the Johnstons, a servant couple who were to look after the holidaymakers, appear to have left in a hurry and taken all the supplies with them. Once their household management is under control Phryne and company soon turn to considerations of the Johnston’s disappearance and the alarming matter that has occupied the town’s gossips: who is cutting of the plaits of all the young ladies?

Review summary: This is an intelligent cosy mystery with a sense of humour and the well-depicted atmosphere of the roaring 20’s. The audio book is delightfully narrated too

The full review is at Fair Dinkum Crime 3.5/5 stars

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THE HALF-CHILD by Angela Savage

Synopsis: In the mid 1990′s Australian Jayne Keeney has been living in Thailand for a number of years and works as a private detective. As this book opens she is hired by an Australian man Jim Delbeck to investigate the death of his daughter Maryanne. The girl was volunteering at an orphanage run by a Christian group in Pattaya, a seedy coastal town south of Bangkok, when she apparently committed suicide some months earlier. Her father fervently believes that she would not have killed herself and he wants Jayne to find out the truth.

Review Summary: A real treat of a novel offering engaging and believable characters, a thoughtful and intelligent plot and a subtle, complex insight into the culture in which it is set. There is also some delightful humour.

The full review is at Fair Dinkum Crime 4/5 stars

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Aussie Authors Update #1
Aussie Authors Update #2

This entry was posted in Alan Carter (Aus), Angela Savage (Aus), Chris Womersley (Aus), Kerry Greenwood (Aus), mini review, P D Martin (Aus). Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Aussie Authors Update #3

  1. Kathy D. says:

    Good reviews which lead me to finding Prime Cut in the States. I just read Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood and loved it. I have tried one of the Phryne Fisher books but couldn’t get into it. Perhaps I will try again. And Angela Savage’s book — which I have tried to find numerous times — still costs a fortune at Amazon. So I’m waiting for another version of it to be published or else used copies to be available at Abe Books.
    I am now hooked on Aussie authors and their mysteries. I have not yet read one that I didn’t like.

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    • Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the Aussie crime fiction that you’ve been able to get hold of Kathy…it’s so unfortunate that geographic restrictions stop books being available to everyone equally though

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  2. Maxine says:

    I very much enjoyed Prime Cut, which I read on your recommendation, also Kerrie’s. I look forward to reading some of these others, in particular The Half Child.

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  3. Philip says:

    I was just about to ask for recommendations for an Australian writer as I get to the end of the 2011 Global Challenge! Prime Cut it is. Thanks!

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  4. Bernadette – Thanks so much for this round-up. I must read Prime Cut. Soon. And thanks also for reminding us of those other novels. Folks, I can vouch for Kerry Greenwood’s novels, both her Phryne Fisher series and her Corrina Chapman series.

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  5. Bernadette – I love these updates. You give me so many ideas for great Aussie Crime fiction books to read. I am sourcing Prime Cut (Carter) as we speak. Thanks so much.

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  6. As you know, I have stopped buying books, and as I have already broken (no wait; the other one was free – no vows broken anyway)…
    What I mean to say is that I have put P.D. Martin on the wish list … 😉

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  7. How great is Kerry Greenwood, one of my favourites. I interviewed her last year which was great fun. She’s got a very dry and sarcastic sense of humour I think. I saw Chris Womersley at the Sydney Writers Festival this year too and thought he seemed really good, but I still haven’t read Bereft depsite the good reviews.

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  8. Pingback: Aussie Authors Update #4 | Reactions to Reading

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