October Picks

Harper, Jane (2022) Exiles. Macmillan.

Federal investigator Aaron Falk returns to solve the mystery of Kim Gillespie’s disappearance at a South Australian food and wine festival. A year on, Kim’s vanishing has cast a dark shadow on the small tight-knit community of Marralee where Aaron is set to become godfather to the son of his policeman friend from The Dry. As he relishes his sojourn in wine country, with the hope of a new love, he is drawn into exploring past truths and begins to suspect that the veracity of truth can only be found when we look again. Great story, fantastic characterisation, brilliant read, huge fan. Another giant hit for Jane Harper.

Rating: 5/5

Delaney, J P (2022) My Darling Daughter. Quercus.

Fifteen years after Susie Jukes gave up her daughter for adoption she is unexpectedly contacted, via social media, with a request for help. Susie is convinced that her daughter Anna’s traumatic childhood is her fault and sets about making amends, putting both herself and her husband Gabe in harms way. For Anna (nee Sky) knows things about Susie that Gabe doesn’t, and things soon get out of control. Can their marriage survive the revelations and a manipulative teenager? Disturbing psychological thriller, with familiar elements, that often strain credulity.

Rating: 3/5

O’Farrell, Maggie (2022) The Marriage Portrait. Tinder Press.

In 1560, fifteen year old Lucrezia di Cosimo de’Medici left Florence to begin married life with Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Less than a year later she would be dead. Maggie O’Farrell’s story is a fictionalised portrait of Lucrezia’s life and death, with some borrowings from Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess. A plucky young virgin, with floor-length red hair, marries a handsome but cruel duke in a pictorial narrative that is imbued with cadence, fantasy and myth, and impending threats. An exquisitely imagined tale. Historical storytelling at its best. Wonderful.

Rating: 5/5

Sager, Riley (2022) The House Across the Lake. Dutton.

Casey who is recently widowed, and often drunk, takes on the role of voyeur when she starts watching her glamorous neighbours, Katherine and Tom, across the lake from her Vermont lake house. Then one day she saves Katherine from drowning. When Katherine later vanishes she suspects Tom of foul play, however the lake has a terrible secret in its depths that will terrorise both Casey and Katherine. Suspense with a horror overlay. Too surreal and unconvincing for me.

Rating: 2/5

Hammer, Chris (2022) The Tilt. Allen & Unwin.

Nell Buchanan’s (Treasures and Dirt) first assignment as a homicide detective is a decades-old cold case in her home town near the Barmah-Millewa Forest, a real place in South Australia. The discovery of a body in the Murray River regulator (dam) is the start of a chain of events where more bodies regularly pop up. As Nell begins to investigate she uncovers a shadowy past and dangerous forces in which her own family play an integral role. Hammer’s atmospheric landscape is very much central to this well-layered novel of three interwoven narratives. And, for extra clarity there is a family tree and a map. Good yarn.

Rating: 4/5


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