Sapphire Falls, by Fleur McDonald

Fiona Forrest sat next to her dead husband’s coffin, staring at it dully. Music played softly in the background and she could smell the roses that filled two urns on stands nearby.
The church felt exactly like she did. Cold and empty.

Fiona and her husband Charlie were really happy: working side by side on their farm, and looking forward to a long future. But when Charlie is involved in a terrible shooting accident that eaves his mate Eddie dead, he struggles to cope. When he commits suicide, Fiona is devastated, but she is determined to keep the farm going. If only the rumours that she is selling the farm would stop.

Detective Dave Burrows has been on enforced leave. When he returns he finds that the case of Eddie’s death was not properly dealt with. When he starts to investigate he realises something doesn’t add up. The deeper he digs, the more he realises that something sinister is going on – and perhaps it is linked both to Charlie’s suicide and to the series of problems that seem to be plaguing Fiona’s farm.

Sapphire Falls continues bestselling author Fleur McDonald’s trend of blending rural Australian settings with strong female characters facing adversity and¬†elements of mystery, for a unique form of crime fiction. Readers are kept guessing ¬†along with the characters, and the mystery works well alongside the development of characters and interwoven subplots.

Good stuff.

Sapphire Falls, by Fleur McDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760112646

A Youth Not Wasted, by Ian Parkes

How can mere red dirt and stones and scrubby trees and shrubs and rises and fall sin the land and haze and a vast blue sky be so potent? Such was its power, even in intense heat, even at night, sometimes, especially at night, the landscape seized you.

A Youth Not Wasted: A Memoir

Ian Parkes grew up listening to – and loving – his grandfather’s stories about the bush, so when it came time for him to enter the workforce he was keen to experience life in the outback for himself. From his first job on a remote property he fell in love with the land, forging a lifelong connection with the love that continued long after he settled back in the city to pursue a career in advertising.

A Youth Not Wasted recounts Parkes’ time working on rural properties in the 1950s, from his working alone fencing and mustering, to living alongside fellow workers, days at the races and more. Painting a picture of a time which may have passed, in a setting which in some cases remains unchanged, A Youth Not Wasted will appeal both to those who may have had similar experiences as well as those who may just be intrigued by the difference to their own experiences.

An absorbing memoir.

A Youth Not Wasted, by Ian Parkes
Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2012
ISBN 9780732295349

Available from good bookstores or online.