Harper, Jane (2017) Force of Nature. Pan Macmillan. The Dry was one of my favourite books of 2016, now Jane Harper has released her new mystery where Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk is again the unlikely hero. Five women are reluctantly part of a corporate retreat in the rugged Giralang Ranges. As they hike deeper into the bush they become disoriented, then lost. One of the bushwalkers fails to return. Aaron is keen to find the whereabouts of the missing hiker – whistleblower Alice Russell. As he delves into the disappearance he discovers a tale of violence, suspicion and betrayal. Like The Dry the landscape adds to the atmosphere of menace. Well written chiller with perfectly measured pace and suspense. Rating: 8.5/10.
Dicker, Joël (2017) The Baltimore Boys. Maclehose Press. Marcus and his cousins Woody and Hillel were called The Goldman Gang. Three clever young men with their heads full of dreams and dazzling futures ahead of them, that is before their world is destroyed by lies, envy and betrayal. Marcus must atone for the past to banish his own demons. We first met narrator Marcus Goldman in Dicker’s bestseller The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. The Baltimore Boys is both a prequel and a sequel. A bit disappointing after Dicker’s brilliant debut but still an engrossing portrait of a family. Rating: 8.5/10.
Constantine, Liv (2017) The Last Mrs Parrish. Harper. Amber thinks she deserves more in life. She has a plan to cooly manipulate her way into the lives of mega-rich ‘golden couple’ Daphne and Jackson Parrish. As Amber schemes her way into poor trusting Daphne’s life she grows ever closer to Jackson. Just when her well-laid plan is coming to fruition a skeleton from her past is set to send it awry. This nasty anti-heroine is pure spite. Dark and juicy debut novel. Rating: 8/10.
Coben, Harlan (2017) Don’t Let Go. Century. Fifteen years ago two teenagers are found dead in small-town New Jersey. Nap Dumas, twin brother to one of the the dead boys, never believed the deaths were suicide. When another classmate is shot, with the finger-prints of his long vanished girlfriend at the scene, Nap embarks on a quest to uncover the secret behind Westbrook High’s anti-establishment Conspiracy Club. Nap is a cop who plays by his own rules and his approach to wrong-doing is unconventional. Another satisfying tightly plotted twisty story from an author who is now regularly topping bestseller lists. Rating: 8/10.
Bailey, Sara (2017) The Dark Lake. Allen & Unwin. When the mysterious Rosalind Ryan, a beautiful young teacher, is found murdered in the lake Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned the case. Gemma had known Rosalind in her high school years and they have history. As the investigation deepens Gemma must come to terms with her own secrets and obsession. A crime thriller that interweaves an all-too-human protagonist with in-depth detective work, in small-town Australia. Riveting debut. Rating: 8.5/10.
Pullman, Philip (2017) La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust, Volume One. David Fickling Books. In this prequel to His Dark Materials trilogy Pullman builds on his universe. Malcolm, a pub potboy, and his companion Alice, embark on a great quest to save the baby Lyra from flood and the Magisterium. Malcolm’s canoe La Belle Sauvage is the ark in this perilous water odyssey and as they are swept through the torrents they must face a host of challenges that are predatory, mythological and subversive. It has been twenty-two years since we first met Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pantalaimon and their backstory will delight many fans. This resurrection, however, did not for me capture the magic of Northern Lights and The Amber Spyglass. My expectations were impossibly high – I think my love affair is over. Rating: 8.5/10.
Favilli, Elena, Cavallo, Francesca (2016) Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women. Particular Books. This international best-selling phenomenon of inspiring tales of hero women, illustrated by female artists, was totally financed by a crowdfunding campaign. Each of the short bios breaks stereotypes and promotes that gender cannot define how big you can dream. Obstacles are there to be overcome. A primer for every young girl. Rating: 9/10.
Klein, Naomi (2017) No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. Haymarket Books. Klein’s timely study of shock politics warns of the huge toxic potential of the Trump presidency and makes a courageous call to oppose it. Trump is the ultimate brand, a superbrand he has built around his own persona and merged it with the ultimate symbol of power – The White House. Everyday he creates yet another shock and it will take more than resistance to beat Trumpism, neoliberalism and the ever growing climate of inequality. Klein’s book offers a blueprint for a counter-attack. Ultimately optimistic as she believes change lies in the popular will. Compelling. Rating: 9/10.