September-October Picks

Bailey, Sarah (2021) The Housemate. Allen & Unwin.

As a junior journalist Olive Groves worked on the Housemate Homicide. Three housemates – one dead, one missing and one accused of murder. A mysterious case that has continued to baffle Australians. Nine years later Oli is is once again assigned to the story this time reluctantly paired with gifted millennial podcaster Cooper Ng. When the convicted perpetrator dies in a suspected suicide Oli and Cooper start to unearth the dark web of secrets that surround the housemates, putting both their lives at risk. A riveting and skilful stand-alone procedural thriller. Bailey is as sensational as ever.

Rating: 9/10

Cleeves, Ann (2021) The Heron’s Cry. Macmillan.

In his second outing, in Cleeves’ Two Rivers series, Detective Matthew Venn is called to a crime scene at a North Devon philanthropist’s home for local artists. The glassblower’s father is found stabbed with a shard of glass, later followed by the death of a fellow artist under similar circumstances. As the investigation broadens Matthew and his sidekicks discover that a recent suicide is at the heart of this character-driven mystery. In Matthew Cleeves has created a relatable, yet fallible, new hero to her stable of crime fighters. Well-crafted traditional fare.

Rating: 8/10

Perry, Kyle (2021) The Deep. Penguin Random House.

This highfalutin thriller set on the rugged coast of Tasmania is about modern-day pirates, family bonds and betrayals. The Dempsey’s have run a lucrative drug business, alongside their fishing venture, for generations. When thirteen-year-old Forest Dempsey washes up, returning from the dead, long held family secrets are exposed. As the family fights to the protect the Business from the infamous drug kingpin Blackbeard exiled family members, Mackerel and Ahab, try to prevent an implosion. A rip-roaring boys-own adventure but too long-winded for me.

Rating: 7.5/10

Firkin, Katherine (2021) The Girl Remains. Bantam.

In 1998 fifteen-year-old Cecilia May goes missing in Blairgowrie, on the Mornington Peninsula, after a night out with her two friends. Twenty years later the cold case is reopened when human bones are found on an isolated beach. Detective Emmett Corban and his team, in book two of the series, sift through the evidence in their hunt for her murderer. As they focus their efforts on the prime suspect they realise this mystery has a few more clues and twists to go yet, and there are others searching for answers. Another Aussie crime writer to watch.

Rating: 8/10

Flyn, Cal (2021) Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape. Collins.

This extraordinary book is about a myriad of abandoned places, places where humans no longer go – ghost towns, exclusion zones, no man’s lands and fortress islands, and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. It is a history of the earth and stories of environmental collapse and resurrection, from Chernobyl, where a handful of people have returned to their dangerously irradiated homes, and the toxic beauty of the WW1 killing fields in Verdum, France, to an alien plant invasion and rewilding in Tanzania. Surreal and lyrical redemptive narratives of place. Fascinating.

Rating: 9/10

Moriarty, Liane (2021) Apples Never Fall. Pan Macmillan.

Moriarty’s new domestic drama centres around the Delaneys, a famed tennis family. Parents Stan and Joy, still killers on the tennis court, are pillars of the community, and their four erstwhile adult children have had chequered post-tennis lives. One night an interloper, named Savannah, knocks on Stan and Joy’s door which leads to disharmony, and then Joy goes missing. As Stan becomes a person of interest with the police the siblings square off against each other. Enjoyed until the Savannah story added an element of implausibility. Still a readable little tale.

Rating: 8.5/10

Rowell, Simon (2021) The Long Game. Text.

Homicide DS Zoe Mayer has recently returned from leave, with a service dog, after a life-threatening trauma. She is assigned the murder of a Mornington Peninsula surfer found dead with a kitchen knife in his chest. Whilst there is an obvious suspect Zoe has a theory that does not find favour with her colleagues. Zoe doggedly investigates uncovering a long held grudge that threatens her own life. A carefully crafted mystery that has plenty of twists and turns, but is rather long-winded. I needed staying power to finish.

Rating: 8/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s