Review: Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer

 

Title: Lyrebird Hill

Author: Anna Romer

Published: Simon & Schuster Au September 2014

Listen to an excerpt

Status: Read from September 18 to 19, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

As in Romer’s debut novel, Thornwood House, the past casts deep shadows over the present in Lyrebird Hill, a haunting story of family secrets, mystery and murder.

Ruby Cardel can’t remember the events surrounding the tragic death of her sister, Jamie. She knows only what she has been told, that Jamie died in an accident when they were children, slipping and falling into the river that bordered their property, Lyrebird Hill and that Ruby was found nearby, bruised and disorientated, her memory of the past year gone. Though Ruby has built a life for herself, opening a bookstore in Coffs Harbour and is in a relationship with handsome self help guru, Rob, her sister’s death continues to haunt her, and she is stunned when her mother is forced to confess that Jamie’s death was no accident. Despite a persistent feeling of dread, Ruby decides it is time to uncover the truth about that fateful day and returns to Lyrebird Hill in the hope of finding the answers she seeks.

As Ruby tries to unravel the mystery of Jamie’s death, a second narrative emerges telling the tale of Brenna Magavin. In 1898, nineteen year old Brenna was the carefree young mistress of Lyrebird Hill, owned by her father. When financial ruin threatened to force the sale of the property, Brenna agreed to marry a family friend, a peer of her father’s, in exchange for the clearance of the debt, only to discover she made a deal with the devil. When Ruby discovers a tin full of letters written by Brenna buried at Lyrebird Hill she learns her family’s history is blighted with tragedy, betrayal and murder and fears it is a legacy she has unwittingly perpetuated.

The dual narratives of Lyrebird Hill weave a captivating and complex tale as the mysteries surrounding Jamie’s and Brenna’s fate unravel. The atmosphere darkens as secrets are revealed and danger lurks. There is unspeakable violence, bitter regrets and shocking treachery but also a thread of redemption, of truth and even triumph.

The prose is lush and lyrical evoking both the landscape of Lyrebird Hill and the fraught emotions of Romer’s characters. There are distinct modern gothic undertones to the story, with a hint of fairytale morality. I did find the pacing a little slow, more so in the contemporary timeline, but the stunning twists presented in the conclusion of both narratives easily compensate for the small lag.

An absorbing and atmospheric tale, beautifully told, I enjoyed Lyrebird Hill and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

 

Lyrebird Hill is available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster Au Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

awwbadge_2014

AWW Feature: Visiting Italy with Fiona Palmer and the Sunnyvale Girls

 

fee3-228x339

 

Fiona Palmer is the bestselling author of five rural romance novels  The Family Farm (2010); Heart of Gold (2012); The Road Home (2012); The Sunburnt Country (2013); The Outback Heart (2013)  and today is celebrating the release of her sixth, The Sunnyvale Girls.

Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

You can read my review of this lovely novel,  The Sunnyvale Girls by clicking HERE

While writing The Sunnyvale Girls, Fiona visited Italy in 2013 with her family, a long way from the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth where she lives. She posted about her trip on her blog and today I am sharing part of her journey with you.

 

Montone

* © Fiona Palmer. Republished with permission – see Montone Part 2

IMG_2509

After Venice we jumped on a train to Florence, changed trains to get to Arezzo and this is where we picked up our hire car to drive to Montone. I could tell you a few funny stories of starting to drive on the wrong side of the road (yes, I found myself here on the odd occassion) and indicating to turn off a road which left us gliding to a stop with a reving motor. You see where the flicker is normally for me was the gear leaver, so I kept accidently kicking the car out of gear when I wanted to indicate. But it didn’t take long to figure out and we were on our way south towards Perugia.

What made us stay here was my mum. She had seen this place advertised in a magazine and some Australians actually own Casa Valdeste where we stayed.  It looked perfect. Montone was founded between AD 800 and 1000, is a working village. The village is set on a small mountain, 482 metres above sea level, and is within easy reach of a large number of delightful medieval towns and cities in Umbria and Tuscany. And it all sounds so perfect right? Well it was even more amazing than we expected.

The village was inside/on top of this huge wall and from our window in Casa Valdeste we could see everything. And when the fog rolled in you felt like you were in the clouds on a mythical floating island.

IMG_2457

Below is our door to Casa Valdeste.

You can see more at Steve’s website here. From his website is the description of our little place.

Accommodating four guests, Casa Valdeste is a beautiful late 14th-century, terrace-style two-bedroom cottage on three floors, 60 metres from Montone’s centrepiece, Piazza Fortebraccio, the main square in the medieval village of Montone. The walls are of stone, about one metre thick and buttressed on the south-western side.  The house features huge oak and chestnut beams on all ceilings, double-glazed chestnut windows, world-renowned Cotto d’Este floor tiles and exquisite ceramic wall-hangings.

IMG_2405 IMG_2416

IMG_2420

I have heaps of photos all just from Montone. Every door we wanted to steal and bring home, the walls, the windows and shutters. It was heaven. I’d go back again in a heartbeat. We were like kids searching out every nook and cranny, places hidden away around arches or through tunnels. Is it not just the most gorgeous place?

Below is one of the main entries into the village.

IMG_2450

And the lights. I loved the lights!

IMG_2444 IMG_2559

And it snows here too. (Not sure I’d want to be driving around those tiny roads and hairpin turns in snow! Heck it was scary enough without it at times. Especially when a big truck is coming the other way and hes cutting the corner!!)

IMG_2589

The view from our little mountain was breathtaking. We would sit for ages just watching.

IMG_2614

We used Montone as our base and drove around this area to Perugia, Gubbio, Umbertide etc.  After 11 days we were soon becoming familiar with the area. We would drive to the nearby train station and did trips to Florence, one to Pisa and also Lucca.  Below is the medieval town of Gubbio and the leaning tower of Pisa!

20130926_133249_resized 20131001_104546_resized

And on the weekends we would take walks around Montone. We did a 12km walk one day. It was all good until the last 4km which was all up hill!! But it was great, on this walk we saw the farmers out in their fields, some shifting sheep with lots of dogs and we ate along the way. Grapes and figs just growing on the side of the roads. We were blessed on this trip. Everything went so well. (except maybe the washing machine that decided to flood itself and short out the power lol!)

20130925_130233_resized 20131003_082123_resized

It was a sad day when we packed up to leave Montone and head to Rome. This was a big highlight of our trip and if anyone is thinking of travelling to Italy I recommend staying at Steve’s place. It felt like we really got to experience the heart of Italy.

****

The Sunnyvale Girls is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

awwbadge_2014

 

Review: Moonlight Plains by Barbara Hannay

 

Title: Moonlight Plains

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 24 to 25, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Continuing her loosely linked series featuring the Fairburn family, Barbara Hannay presents Moonlight Plains, an engaging romance which blends a contemporary and historical narrative.

In 1942, as the Japanese threaten the coast of North Queensland, nineteen year old Kitty Martin is sent to Moonlight Plains, the home of her widowed great uncle, far west of Townsville. Kitty, frustrated to be thwarted in her desire to assist in the war effort, is only in residence for a few weeks when two US airmen, blown off course, are forced to ditch their planes at the isolated property, and she finds herself facing tragedy… and heartbreak.
Nearly seventy years later, Kitty is glad her grandson is restoring the faded grandeur of the homestead at Moonlight Plains and quietly pleased that her young friend Sally Piper, a journalist, has taken an interest both in the project, and Luke Fairburn. Kitty only hopes that with the restoration of the past, she can keep hidden her own long held secret that could ruin everything.

Kitty’s wartime narrative reveals a bittersweet love story, of risks taken and hearts broken. Kitty’s 70 year old secret is easily guessed but I really liked her storyline which is sweet and poignant and I felt for Kitty confronted with a difficult choice in a difficult time.

The development of Sally and Luke’s contemporary relationship follows a familiar path, their physical attraction eventually leads to deeper feelings though neither are willing to admit it. I could understand Sally’s hesitance, though I thought the specific reason for her feelings of guilt was an odd aside.

I didn’t think Luke’s reaction to his grandmother’s secret was entirely in keeping with his character. A moment of pique I could understand but his hurt feelings, even in light of his relationship with Sally, seemed excessive. Laura’s reaction to the cache of secret letters written by her father to Kitty was more believable given she lacked the context of the relationship and was still grieving both her father’s passing and bitter over her recent marital breakdown.

I often forget that WW2 was also fought on our shores (I’ve complained before about the failure of the Australian curriculum to focus on the conflicts that occurred on our own soil when I was at school) and so I appreciated the brief glimpse from Hannay of its effects on Townsville and its residents. I also found it easy to visualise the restored grandeur of the old Queenslander at Moonlight Plains, nestled within its bush setting.

A winsome novel, Moonlight Plains seamlessly weaves together a lovely story of love lost and gained. This is another delightful rural romance from Barbara Hannay, following on from Zoe’s Muster and Home Before Sundown.

Moonlight Plains is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Click on the covers to read my reviews of


awwbadge_2014

Review & Giveaway: Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie

 

Title: Colours of Gold

Author: Kaye Dobbie

Published: Harlequin MIRA April 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 06 to 08, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, is a captivating tale combining mystery, romance, history and a touch of ‘other’.

With the narrative alternating between the past and the present, Colours of Gold tells the story of a small girl found near death in a sealed barrel in the Murray River in 1867 and her connection to a present day art restorer’s discovery of a Trompe L’oeil in an old Melbourne hotel scheduled for demolition.

From the opening chapters of the historical timeline I was intrigued by the mysteries introduced by the author, namely the identity of the young girl rescued from the river, her extraordinary ability to see colours (aura) that warn her of a persons mood, misfortune or illness, and her fear of a tall man in a long dark coat that haunts her, day and night. Moving from the banks of the Murray, through the dusty streets of gold rush towns and finally to Melbourne, Dobbie deftly evokes the character and landscape of the historical period as Alice, and friend Rosey, struggle to escape their dark pasts, in hopes of creating a brighter future.

In the contemporary timeline, Annie Reuben is excited by the challenge presented by the conservation of the Trompe L’oeil found in the basement of the old Goldminer Hotel and intrigued by the people and the scenes it depicts, especially the figures of two young girls in the foreground. Despite the threat of interference by History Victoria, and a looming financial crisis, Annie is determined to solve the mystery of the painting, and find out what the sudden appearance of a man in a long dark coat means for her, and her daughter.

Well written, I thought the alternating chapters were particularly well structured, each advancing the story and merging neatly at the conclusion. Suspense is built carefully during the course of the novel, with the pace quickening as Alice and Annie get closer to solving the mysteries that concern them.

An entertaining and interesting novel, with appealing characters, I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in the story of Colours of Gold and how reluctant I was to put it down. This was a great read for me.

For your chance to WIN one of two copies of Colours of Gold CLICK HERE {open worldwide}

 

Colours of Gold is available to purchase from

Harlequin AuBooktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

awwbadge_2014

 

AWW Feature & Giveaway: Also Known As Kaye Dobbie

 

I am happy to introduce you to Kaye Dobbie today. Kaye  is a multi published Australian author who has written romance for Avon, as Sara Bennett, and Australian historical books as Lilly Sommers.

Her current novel, Colours of Gold, is published by Harlequin MIRA (Australia), and is two tales in one. Firstly, a story set in 1866 about Alice a mysterious young girl found half-drowned in the Murray River, and secondly, a story set in the present day about Annie Reuben, a painting restorer, who uncovers the secrets of Alice’s life.

” The child has no name, she’s a little girl…lost and forgotten.

1867: Named by the wife of the paddle steamer captain who finds her half drowned in the Murray River, Alice must survive in a world that reviles her. Because Alice has a gift…or a curse. She can see an aura of colours around the people she meets — and those colours tell her of impending doom. With her friend Rosey, Alice runs away to the gold fields and then joins a troupe of entertainers where people pay to hear her predictions. But she can never escape her past…along with the frightening man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes…

Present: Annie Reuben is an art restorer in her father’s business, but times are tough. After being given a long-lost painting found in the basement of a condemned hotel, Annie becomes intrigued by the two girls who stare out at her from the ruined canvas.

Who were Alice and Rosey? And why does Annie find their lives so important? As Annie becomes caught up with finding answers from the past, she finds herself being stalked by the same frightening man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes…

A beautiful novel of a young girl’s life and adventures in the Australian goldfields — and how a painting revealed her story to the next generation of her family.

*****

My review of Colours of Gold can be read HERE , but first please READ ON and learn how you could WIN 1 of 2 copies of this wonderful novel.

AKA Kaye Dobbie

I seem to have been writing forever—yes, it has been a very long apprenticeship. From childhood diaries to a Last Will and Testament I drew up at the age of six, leaving my extensive doll collection divided fairly among my three brothers (I was the only girl). They still think it was hilarious.

When I was about fifteen I wrote a grand novel full of murder and mayhem and angst. The culprit turned out to be an elderly man in a wheelchair. Boy, I was clever. I bet no one guessed.

A publisher impressed by my dramatic flair suggested I try Mills and Boon, but it took me a while to come to grips with the happy ending. Once I did though, I embraced it whole-heartedly. At this time I was an at-home Mum, and those five romance books I wrote fitted into my chaotic lifestyle, as well as being the perfect learning experience for an aspiring writer. There isn’t a formula, in case you’re wondering. The happy ending is obligatory, but other than that you just need to focus on the main couple, and you can write them into whatever settings, situations or conflicts that appeal to you.

Later I wrote five books for various Australian publishers under the name Lilly Sommers. The publishers kept changing because 1) my editor moved to another publishing house and I followed her (reminder not to do that ever again) and 2) the industry was in flux and publishing houses were downsizing. The novels were mostly historical, but one of them had some ghostly elements and there was a novella about time travel in convict era Tasmania. I learned a lot during these years and I always felt privileged to be an Australian writing about Australia. It was one of the reasons I longed to publish another Australian-set novel.

For the last ten or so years I’ve been Sara Bennett, writing romance for Avon in the USA. Firstly Medieval books, with hunky knights and feisty ladies, and then moving on to the Victorian era, in particular a series about the daughters of an infamous courtesan. It has been a lot of fun but it came to a natural end. However I am planning to self-publish under my Sara Bennett name, when I have a moment. Romance is very life affirming and I love the happy endings.

Right now I’m writing under my own name, Kaye Dobbie. Colours of Gold is my first book with Harlequin MIRA (Australia). If I’ve been completing an apprenticeship, then I feel as if this book is the culmination of all those years of learning to be a writer. I haven’t finished, of course I haven’t. The growing and learning goes on.

And, finally, you ask, does Colours of Gold have a happy ending? Well, yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tears along the way.

Colours of Gold is available to purchase from

Harlequin AuBooktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Kaye Dobbie

I have 2 editions of

Colours of Gold

to giveaway

1 x print edition for Australian residents only

1 x electronic edition for international (outside of Australia) residents  only

Please leave a comment on this post and then

ENTER HERE

Entries close July 20th, 2014

Drawn via random.org

***

awwbadge_2014

 

Review: Currawong Manor by Josephine Pennicott

 

Title: Currawong Manor

Author: Josephine Pennicott

Read an exclusive excerpt posted earlier at Book’d Out

Published: Pan Macmillan June 2014

Status: Read from June 09 to 11, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

An atmospheric novel of mystery, drama and tragedy, Currawong Manor has a similar tone and premise to author Josephine Pennicott’s previous novel, Poet’s Cottage.

Photographer Elizabeth Thorrington has always been eager to learn more about her grandfather, Rupert Partridge, a well known, controversial artist who mysteriously vanished in 1945 on the same day his beloved daughter, Shalimar, and wife Doris, met their tragic deaths. Invited by the current owners of Currawong Manor, the Partridge’s former estate, to collaborate on a book about her grandfather’s life and art, Elizabeth is excited by the opportunity to meet with one of Rupert’s notorious muses, Ginger Flower, and Dolly Shaw, the daughter of the Partridge’s housekeeper, once Shalimar’s playmate. Elizabeth is convinced these women know what happened on that fateful day and hopes they will share the secrets they have kept for more than half a century… but perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved.

The narrative moves between the past and the present as Elizabeth, along with true crime writer, and former muso, Nick Cash begin to piece together the history of the manor and its former residents, aided by Ginger’s recall of her time at Currawong Manor as one of Rupert’s three life models, known as the ‘Flowers’. Slowly Pennicott unravels an intriguing story of love, art, scandal and betrayal that reveals the truth of the tragedy that befell the Partridge family.

The writing is evocative, with lyrical phrasing creating a haunting, oppressive atmosphere. Set in Mt Bellbird, a small village in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, there are definite gothic overtones to this novel. The grand, partially restored Currawong Manor looms from the bush, surrounded by barely tamed gardens and bordered by the forbidding Owlbone Woods, in which something unseen lurks.

An impressively crafted literary story, Currawong Manor is an absorbing and dramatic tale.

Available to purchase from

PanMacmillan I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

***

awwbadge_2014

eclecticchallenge2014

 

Review: Present Darkness by Malla Nunn

Title: Present Darkness {Detective Emmanuel Cooper #4}

Author: Malla Nunn

Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books June 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on June 07, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy Netgalley/Atria}

My Thoughts:

Present Darkness is the fourth superb instalment in Malla Nunn’s Detective Emmanuel Cooper series. This unique crime series, set during the 1950’s in apartheid ruled South Africa, has become one of my favourites, and Present Darkness is Nunn’s best yet.

It is a few days before Christmas, 1953 and Cooper is fast losing patience with his colleagues in the Johannesburg major crimes squad. While the temporary transfer from Durban allows him to see Davida and their baby daughter Rebekah every day, he is wary of his boss, Lieutenant Walter Mason who seems far to interested in what Cooper does in his off time. Called to a vicious beating of a white couple, a high school principal and a secretary at the office of land management, Cooper is surprised when their teenage daughter blames Aaron Shabalala, the youngest son of his best friend and Zulu Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala, for the brutal attack. From the first things don’t seem to add up, but Mason isn’t interested in Cooper’s doubts and insists the girls identification closes the case. Cooper, who owes Shabalala his life, can’t let it rest though and with the help of Dr. Daniel Zweigman, he begins an investigation of his own.

Cooper’s inquiry leads him from the violent slum in which he was raised to a dusty farm on the outskirts of Pretoria. He encounters thieves, corrupt cops, pimps, murderers and an abducted prostitute in his drive to prove Aaron Shabalala’s innocence. Full of twists and turns, complicated by Cooper’s need to avoid alerting Mason to his unsanctioned investigation and his desire to protect his family, the plot is fast-paced and tension filled. Cooper, as always, follows the evidence wherever it leads him, no matter the threat or danger, ably assisted by Shabalala and Zweigman.

As I’ve written before, the cultural framework of the novel is what really sets this series apart from other crime fiction I have read. Apartheid affects every facet of life for South Africans, and Nunn doesn’t shy away from exposing the appalling inequalities of the period. Having experienced life on both sides of the colour line, Cooper is more aware of the arbitrary injustice based on skin colour than most and refuses to let apartheid compromise his job or his personal life. In 1953, Cooper’s relationship with Davida, a mixed race woman, is illegal and he is conscious that she, and their daughter, is a vulnerability his enemies could easily exploit.

As with Nunn’s last book, Silent Valley (published in the US as Blessed Are the Dead), I read Present Darkness in single sitting. Skilfully crafted with an intriguing plot and superb characterisation, Malla Nunn’s Detective Emmanuel Cooper series should be on everybody’s reading list.

 

Available to Purchase from

Simon & Schuster US I AmazonUS I BookDepository

Available in Australia from

Xoum Books I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

awwbadge_2014

around-the-world-2014

Review: The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly

Title: The Blue Mile

Author: Kim Kelly

Published: Pan Macmillan May 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from May 29 to June 01, 2014 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The expanse of the glittering Sydney Harbour, known as The Blue Mile, is not all that separates Eoghan (Yo) O’Keenan and Olivia Greene. An unskilled Irish labourer escaping a poverty stricken, abusive home with his young sister in tow and the daughter of a Viscount and talented costumière making her name in Sydney society, seem an unlikely couple but a chance encounter in the Royal Botanical Gardens forges an unconventional and turbulent romance. Set against a period of great celebration and Depression, Kim Kelly’s The Blue Mile is an engaging story of life and love.

Beginning in late 1929, the story of The Blue Mile unfolds through the alternate first person perspectives of Eoghan and Olivia.

Though The Blue Mile is definitely a love story, it is very low key. Olivia and Eoghan’s attraction to each other is immediate and mutual, but the couple spend hardly any time alone together over the course of the novel. With the lack of emotional intimacy between the pair I found didn’t really feel their connection even though I believed in the issues that divided them, including their differences in class, wealth and faith.

What I really loved about this story was the historical background to the novel, which is well integrated into the story. Set during the latter construction period of the Sydney Harbour Bridge I was fascinated by Yo’s experience as a rivet catcher. The building of the ‘Coathanger’ was an extraordinary feat, taking 1,400 men, six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel to build the the world’s largest steel arch bridge over a period of eight years (1924-1932).
The period was also a time of social unrest in New South Wales due to high levels of unemployment as a result of Britain calling in war loans, and political scandal, when the Premier, Jack Lang, was dismissed from government by the governor-general for his ‘socialist’ leanings. The economic and political fluctuations of the state have an impact on both Olivia and Yo, though in different ways.

Just days before I read this novel I actually had dinner at The Rag and and Famish, a North Sydney pub mentioned several times in the story, with some fellow book bloggers, and that connection gave me a little thrill each time. Though I liked the protagonists of The Blue Mile, it was the period detail and the physical setting that appealed to me the most.

 

The Blue Mile is available to purchase from

Pan Macmillan I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

awwbadge_2014

Review: St Kilda Blues by Geoffrey McGeachin

 

Title: St Kilda Blues { Detective Charlie Berlin #3}

Author: Geoffrey McGeachin

Published: Viking: Penguin May 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 26 to 28, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

In St Kilda Blues, by award winning author Geoffrey McGeachin, ex-World War II bomber pilot and POW, Victorian police detective Charlie Berlin, is unceremoniously yanked from exile in the fraud squad to run a covert investigation into the disappearance of a teenage girl. Under pressure from shadowy top brass and the girl’s well connected father, Charlie, along with his one time protege Bob Roberts, finds himself on the trail of a serial killer.

The third installment of this intelligent and entertaining police procedural series offers superb characterisation, an intriguing investigation and interesting insight into the pathology of a sociopath with a secondary narrative that reveals the chilling evolution of the killer Charlie is hunting.

Unusually McGeachin chooses to leap ahead a decade in each installment of this series. Set in 1967, McGeachin creates a authentic sense of time and place in St Kilda Blues as Melbourne is buffeted by the winds of change wrought by the era of ‘free love’ and the Vietnam War.

Charlie has changed little in the last ten years, retaining his strong sense of justice and dedication to his job. Still frustrated with the politics and corruption in the force, his focus is on finding the missing girl, no matter the consequences for his career. He is impatient with the inequities of justice that allowed the killer to torture and murder nine young women, the self serving politicians suddenly demanding results, and the ineptitude of the official investigators.

Berlin does find himself distracted though by the resemblance of the teen’s father to an SS officer he witnessed murder a young woman during his time as a POW. For Berlin, the memories of his wartime experiences are never far from his mind. In addition, Charlie is worried about his wayward son, Peter, serving in the army and his adored daughter, Sarah, spending a year on a philanthropic mission in Israel.

Though St Kilda Blues works as a stand alone, the nuances of Charlie’s character are cumulative and the experience of reading this novel is richer if you first read The Diggers Rest Hotel and Blackwattle Creek.

St Kilda Blues is a fine example of Australian crime fiction that combines outstanding character with accomplished storytelling, and I recommend it, and the entire series, without hesitation.

 

Chasing Shadows  is Available to Purchase from

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

Also Available

Review: Chasing Shadows by Leila Yusaf Chung

 

Title: Chasing Shadows

Author: Leila Yusaf Chung

Published: Vintage: Random House May 2014

Status: Read from May 16 to 21, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Moving from post-war Poland to the birth of the State of Israel, through the years of Beirut’s civil war and the first days of Iran’s revolution, Chasing Shadows shares the tumultuous fates of Abu Fadi, his wife Keira and their children, Taheya, Fadi, Ajamia and Miriam in this uncommon debut by Leila Yusaf Chung.

The narrative is largely divided between the third person viewpoint of Abu Fadi, and Ajamia’s, written in the first, with brief chapters exposing the perceptions of the other family members, shifting in time and place.

Abu Fadi’s story begins with his desertion of his identity, and barren wife, in Poland to make a new life in Palestine. After converting to Islam he takes a bride, teenage beauty Keira, who bears him four living children as the family is shunted from Palestine to Syria and finally re-settled in a Lebanon refuge camp.
Ajamia is six when her mother disappears, presumed by Ajamia to be dead, and she and her siblings are farmed out to an orphanage, rejoining their father only once their primary education has finished. After high school she attends nursing college, but soon after her graduation the Lebanese civil war erupts and Ajamia escapes to France. Her time in the country is brief, after she is misled by a persistent suitor and finds herself in the midst of the Iranian revolution, she is returned to Beirut only to find her family has disappeared in the chaos. Twenty years later, Ajamia is the single mother of a daughter Marianne, longing to find her missing family, and solve the mystery of her mother’s fate.

Loss is the major theme of this novel – loss of homeland, of family, of culture, and of identity. However for Ajamia it is the loss of her mother, Keira, that defines her. Though the Middle East conflicts disrupt and displace Abu Fadi’s family they are still forced to face the ordinary moments of living.

I didn’t always find it easy to follow the narrative of Chasing Shadows but I found it to be an interesting and thought provoking examination of history, culture and family.

Chasing Shadows  is Available to Purchase from

Random House I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

 

 

around-the-world-2014

awwbadge_2014

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,693 other followers