Walker, Martin (2019) The Body in the Castle Well. Quercus. Bruno, my favourite policeman, in his 12th outing, again takes on a murder mystery in the Périgord (Dordogne). Claudia, an American art student, who has been studying the archives of an elderly art historian and war hero, is found dead at the bottom of a well. Claudia’s White House connections means that there is political and FBI attention. Bruno’s investigation take him down a trail which involves art fraud, inheritance, and France’s colonial and military past, with the odd gastronomic delight. To be savoured. Rating: 8.5/10.
Treloar, Lucy (2019) Wolfe Island. Picador. Kitty Hawke is the last resident of a sinking island in Chesapeake Bay. One evening her granddaughter arrives with friends begging for sanctuary. Kitty has chosen to live alone, with her wolf dog Girl, making art, but trouble is following her granddaughter and her peaceful life is set to be disrupted. This dystopian-anthropogenic tale of kin, displacement and survival confronts two urgent global crises: the climate emergency, and the plight of refugees. Australian Treloar’s second literary novel. Atmospheric and mythic. Rating: 8.5/10.
Delaney, J P (2019) The Perfect Wife. Quercus. Abbie, a gifted artist married to a tech tycoon, went missing five years ago. Now there is an AI Abbie, a cobot with a mind of her own, set the task of being a perfect wife and mothering a young autistic son. Can she trust her husband’s motives and find out what really happened to the human Abbie? Can we trust the unknown and unreliable narrator? Lots of suspense in this tale of a modern day Pygmalion. Thought-provoking. The perfect weekend read. Rating: 8.5/10.
Lapena, Shari (2019) Someone We Know. Bantam. In a tranquil neighbourhood, in a sleepy town in upstate New York, an adolescent boy is breaking into people’s houses and hacking their secrets. Then, when a local woman is found murdered, neighbourhood gossip, tension and suspicion reaches breaking point. As the story unfolds residents become fearful as detectives Webb and Moen come knocking at their doors. Everyone has something to hide. Suburban paranoia, with lots of misdirection, however the ending leaves you a bit flat. Rating: 8/10.
Robotham, Michael (2019) Good Girl, Bad Girl. Scribner. Forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven, is called upon to interview a troubled teenager, Evie Cormac, who is demanding to be released from psychiatric care. At the same time he is involved in the murder investigation of high school figure skating champion, Jodie Sheehan. As he probes into the secret lives of both girls, can he save one while seeking justice for the other. A new series in the making. Plenty of drama. Rating: 8.5/10.
Gates, Melinda (2019) The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. Macmillan. “When you send a girl to school, the good deeds never dies”- it carries on for generations advancing every public good from health to economic prosperity. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic organisation in the world, working to improve the lot of millions of girls and women. Melinda’s humanist narrative and her compassionate call to action, addresses the injustice/culture/bias that hold women down (back). Empowering consciousness raising. Rating: 8.5/10.
Hammer, Chris (2019) Silver. Allen & Unwin. Hammer’s flawed protagonist from Scrublands, journalist Martin Scarsden, has returned to his hometown of Port Silver, to be with his new partner Mandy. On arrival he is greeted by the brutal murder of his childhood friend, and Mandy is the chief suspect. As the police seem unwilling to pursue other suspects Martin sets out to search for the killer, whilst battling demons from his past. Like Scrublands this is an epic crime thriller, with a great narrative, that evokes a sense of place. Draws you in from the first page – loved it! Rating: 9/10.
Martin, Gina (2019) Be the Change: A Toolkit for the Activist in You. Sphere. Social media is now a crucial tool to motivate and mobilise communities to bring about change. After a sexually intrusive experience at a music festival in 2017, Gina Martin undertook a 20-month social media campaign to make upskirting a criminal offence. The Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 (UK) came into force on 12 April, making perpetrators who take sexually intrusive photographs up someone’s skirt liable for prosecution and a prison sentence. This useful little toolkit takes us through the politics of activism, campaigning, and actioning change, with heaps of useful tips and resources. Exposes the complex narrative of inequality under the law. Rating: 8.5/10.