The Boy Under the Table, by Nicole Trope

Bein a mother was all-consuming.
There were so many mistakes you could make, so many ways to lose a child.

When Tina, a runaway teen living on the streets of the Cross, breaks her own rules and goes home with a stranger, she knows it is a dangerous thing to do. But she doesn’t expect to find something in the stranger’s house that will change her life forever. There is a boy tied up underneath the man’s kitchen table, and although Tina knows she could pretend that she saw nothing, the haunting image of that child’s face doesn’t leave her and she has to go back for him

In a distant country twon, Doug and Sarah wait for news of their son, missing for four months. A moment of innatention at the Easter Show and he was gone – vanished without a trace. Their lives are in limbo as they wait for news of his fate.

Their friend Pete, the town policeman, waits too. He and his wife are childless and see Lockie as a surrogate grand child, Doug as a son. As a policeman Pete knows he should remain distanced, but as a friend he suffers too.

The Boy Under the Table is a shocking story of abduction and mistreatment, told through the alternating viewpoints of Tina, Sarah, Doug and Pete. As well as being the frightening, yet moving, tale of Lockie’s ordeal, it is also the story of Tina’s own loss of a brother and the circumstances which saw her end up on the street, of Doug and Sarah’s relationship, and of their friendship with Pete. These other plot lines help to make the story more real, but also more palatable, offering relief from what could be an overwhelming main storyline.

Whilst this is not an easy read in terms of subject matter, it is gripping and also full of hope against pretty tough odds. Trope handles the subject deftly and with compassion making it not just palatable but ultimately uplifting.

The Boy Under the Table

The Boy Under the Table, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742379272

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Raven Lucas 1: Missing by Christine Harris

‘Raven Lucas 1: Missing’ opens as Raven thinks she sees her father. Her father who just days ago vanished without a trace, without explanation. Her fragile mother is griefstricken, her father’s partner is too helpful, and her little brother is too young to be much help.

Raven’s heart jumped. She felt her face flame. Her eyes were glued to the felt hat and black coat worn by a man walking in the opposite direction. the footpath was crowded and Raven, standing still, was jostled in the seething flow of people rushing for trains or buses and the warmth of their homes.

Someone’s bag knocked her leg, snapping her out of her shocked paralysis. She stood on tip-toe, dodging left then right.

A hand grabbed her arm.

Missing opens as Raven thinks she sees her father. Her father who just days ago vanished without a trace, without explanation. Her fragile mother is griefstricken, her father’s partner is too helpful, and her little brother is too young to be much help. There seem to be no clues, and plenty of rumours. Raven will not believe her father is dead, or that he’s done anything wrong. The more she investigates, the more confused she becomes. She discovers that she didn’t know her father as well as she thought she did. And she also realises that it may not be as easy as she thinks to know who to trust.

Missing is the first instalment in a new mystery series from Christine Harris. Raven is a feisty, inquisitive, questioning main character. She’s also in pain, yearning for her loved father. Her world is spinning and nothing she once was sure of can now be relied on. Until now, she’s been secure in the wealth and support of her family and friends. But she now realises just how fragile that security has been, and how little she knows about her own family. She is far from helpless or hopeless, however, and determines to discover for herself just what’s going on. This is a fast-paced, action adventure with short chapters and mysteries around every corner. Recommended for upper-primary and lower-secondary readers.

Missing (Raven Lucas)

Missing (Raven Lucas), Christine Harris
Omnibus Books 2012
ISBN: 9781862919341

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

The Borgia Ring, by Michael White

Middleton crashed down on the table, his face connecting with a clutch of wine bottles and glasses, knocking them into laps and on to the floor. One of the women screamed and leapt up. The architect slid backwards, away from the table. As he fell, more blood and vomit gushed from his mouth.

Max Rainer dashed over to him. Middleton had stopped moving. One eye stared sightlessly at the ceiling; the other was a uniform scarlet. Rainer placed two fingers to his partner’s neck then turned to the others as they clustered around, a look of disbelief on his face.

When builders unearth a skeleton on a building site, they are shocked. But more shocking is the chain of events this ancient skeleton unleashes. First a security man is brutally murdered as he guards the site. Then others connected to the site are also killed, one at a time.

DCI Jack Pendragon is having a tense first week at his new posting. The pressure is on him to solve the murders and stop the serial killer from striking again. But the only clues to the murderer’s identity seem linked to the skeleton – a man who has been dead since the fifteenth century.

The Borgia Ring is an absorbing crime thriller set in contemporary London, with a parallel story set in France and London in the fifteenth century, allowing the reader an insight into the older mystery which those in the modern one cannot know. The modern killer draws his inspiration from the fifteenth-century Borgia family, renowned for their cruelty and depravity, giving a chilling depth to the series of crimes which Jack Pendragon must solve.

A compulsive read.

The Borgia Ring, by Michael White
Bantam, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Sharp Shooter, by Marianne Delacourt

I froze, not knowing which way to jump.
A shout from behind me urged me to run. It snapped my paralysis and I leaped back onto the pavement. I saw some things really clearly: scratches on the duco, a plastic spider swinging from the car’s rear-vision mirror, the mask and hoodie that hid the driver’s identity.
A split second before the car smashed up over the curb, I threw myself backwards off the retaining wall and into the river.
There was a loud thunk, followed by a roar of acceleration, and the car drove off, leaving me a quivering mess in the water.

Tara Sharp is unemployed and living in her parents’ garage. Her one gift -an ability for reading people – is always landing her in trouble, Until she meets Mr Hara, who teaches her to understand what people’s auras mean, and to more accurately read their motives and abilities. Now Tara is in business as an investigator, and things are looking up. For now.

On her first case, Tara finds herself caught up with some of Perth’s most colourful criminal personalities – and soon she is fighting for her life, desperate to solve the case before it kills her.

Sharp Shooter is the first story featuring Tara, a sassy twenty-something with a knack of landing herself in trouble. Filled with humour, this action packed thriller set in the suburbs of Perth, is billed as targeting fans of Janet Evanovich, and is a satisfying blend of action, mystery and laughs.

Sharp Shooter

Sharp Shooter, by Marianne Delacourt
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.