The Dry, by Jane Harper

The Dry - Jane HarperEven those who didn’t darken the door of the church from one Christmas to the next could tell there would be more mourners than seats. A bottleneck of black and grey was already forming at the entrance as Aaron Falk drove up, trailing a cloud of dust and cracked leaves.
Neighbours, determined but trying not to appear so, jostled each other for the advantage as the scrum trickled through the doors. Across the road the media circled.

Aaron Falk is reluctant to head to Kiewarra, the town of his childhood. but his childhood friend, Luke Hadler, is dead, and he appears to have killed his wife and son, too, in a horrible murder suicide. Luke’s father has asked Aaron to come, and he feels it’s the least he can do. Aaron is a policeman, but murder isn’t his field – he’s a Federal Police investigator, specializing in corporate crime. Sso when he’s asked to help look into Luke’s death, he’s reluctant.

Aaron’s own past in the town is murky. As a teenager he was implicated in the death of a girl and, although he knows he was innocent, it seems the townspeople are less prepared to let the matter rest. His presence in the town and determination to get to the bottom of Luke’s death puts his own safety at risk.

The Dry is an absorbing crime novel, with the dual mysteries – the apparent murder-suicide now, and the older death of a teenage girl – providing plenty for both the reader and the characters to work through. the character of Luke is well-drawn, with his past and present selves pleasingly developed. The town, too, is populated with an interesting cast, and the mysteries it hosts will keep readers guessing.

The Dry, by Jane Harper
Pan Macmillan, 2016
ISBN 9781743548059

Bad Seed, by Alan Carter

Cato could recall exactly the moment he no longer wanted to be Matthew Tan’s godfather. It was warm sunny afternoon in late spring…

When Cato Kwong is called in to a brutal murder scene, he quickly realises that this investigation is going to be very personal. The victims are his old friend Francis Tan and his family. the sole survivor is Tan’s eldest son Matthew, who has moved out of home, and is the first suspect. The investigation takes Cato places he never expected to go – including to Shanghai, where he learns about the country of his forbears = both its highs and its lows.

Meanwhile, his boss, DI Hutchens, deals with health issues and ghosts from his own past, and Lara Sumich too has plenty of distractions of her own, even if they are of a very different kind.

Bad Seed is the third title featuring Cato (Phillip) Kwong, a Fremantle based detective with a strong sense of justice and a determination to uncover the truth. Each title stands alone, though Cato is a character you want to read more about, so going back and reading the other two is no hardship.


Bad Seed

Bad Seed, by Alan Carter
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925162257

Available from good bookstores and online.

Getting Warmer, by Alan Carter

Cato stepped back with the rest as the shovels came ut and two men began to dig.
A stench rose. The body was crawling with maggots and other insects. Flies descended on the uncovered feast. It was a metre and a half long and it had four legs.

Cato Kwong isn’t convinced that taking a convicted criminal out on the search for a missing girl is a good idea, especially when the victim’s mother is also present. But when the search uncovers nothing more than a decomposing pig carcass, he’s sure that the killer is leading them a wild goose chase. As he works to find out where Bree Petkovic is really buried, another murder happens on his patch. This time it’s a man with his throat slashed in a night club toilet. With organised crime gangs implicated, suspect cops joining in on the investigation, and a growing number of injuries and killings happening, Cato’s desire for some quiet summer nights seems to be slipping away.

Getting Warmer is the second detective story featuring Kato Kwong, a cop who likes to do things mostly by the book, but is also determined to get results and set things to right, goals which sometimes don’t mesh. Newly returned from exile down south, he is now based in Fremantle, and the setting is highlighted with a detail which will delight readers familiar with the port city even while the level and type of crime uncovered may surprise.

With suspense, twists aplenty and intriguing character development, Getting Warmer will appeal to lovers of crime fiction, who will be keen to see more of Cato.


Getting Warmer, by Alan Carter
Fremantle Press, 2013
ISBN 978192208920

Available from good bookstores or online.

Unnatural Habits, by Kerry Greenwood

‘No one cares about bad girls!’ Polly burst out indignantly. ‘They make one mistake and they are shut up in the laundry doing hard work. Their babies are adopted out. they are ruined. We ought to have got beyond that. What use is freedom – they told us that they fought that war for freedom – when the women are still punished and the men go on to seduce another girl?’

Girl Reporter Polly Kettle is on a case. Girls and pregnant women are going missing all over Melbourne, and she’s going to figure out what’s happening to them. Phryne Fisher warns her to be careful but the warning is unheeded and soon Polly vanishes, too. It’s time for Phryne, Dot and her minions, to figure out what is going on. But this is a case which take all of Phryne’s strength – both physical and emotional – as she delves into some truly horrible situations.

Unnatural Habits, the latest Phryne Fisher Mystery and features all the mystery, the raciness and the lushness of previous instalments, with favourite characters including (of course) the daring Phryne Fisher, independently wealthy and sharp private investigator, her companion the straight-laced Dot, her adopted daughters and her Chinese lover, the luscious Lin.

Whilst she has certainly faced dark realities in previous mysteries, Unnatural Habits takes Phryne to some truly terrible places, which confront her as much as they will confront the reader – particularly as she explores both child abuse and the appalling treatment of unwed mothers. However, Greenwood has the knack of entertaining and amusing even whilst not holding back, so that while the horrible realities are not played down, the reader is offered relief in sub plots and character development. New character Tinker is one such bright spot, a teenage boy finding himself resident in a sea of females in Phryne’s house.

Set in 1929 Melbourne, Unnatural Habits is a highly satisfactory addition to the series.

Unnatural Habits

Unnatural Habits, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742372433

Available from good bookstores or online.

Comeback, by Peter Corris

Comeback is the latest in the long-running Cliff Hardy series. Hardy is a little older and, sometimes, slower, but he still manages to get himself in and out of all kinds of scrapes, making friends and enemies equally well

‘I was heading for the golf course. I wanted to take a look at it. I’m going to play there next…Jesus Christ!’
“He’s crowding me off the roa. I have to stop. Shit, oh shit….’
I heard two sharp reports and then nothing except the buzz of an open connection.
‘Bobby! Bobby!’
The buzz stopped.

Cliff Hardy is back in business. Finally he has his PI licence back and is free to take on new clients. But new clients are slow to come – and then, when he finally gets one, the client gets himself murdered. Bobby Forrest seemed like a nice enough guy – so why was he being followed, and, more importantly, who wanted him dead? As Cliff investigates he finds links to his own past, and plenty pf dead ends. It’s going to take all of his skill to solve the case and keep himself out of trouble. Come to think of it, staying out of trouble is not something likely to happen where Cliff Hardy is involved.

Comeback is the latest in the long-running Cliff Hardy series. Hardy is a little older and, sometimes, slower, but he still manages to get himself in and out of all kinds of scrapes, making friends and enemies equally well. Fans of Peter Corris’ work, won’t be disappointed with this latest installment, but it will also please new readers.


Comeback, by Peter Corris
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742377247

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

Follow the Money, by Peter Corris

When beautiful young women kiss you on the cheek you know you’re over the hill, but I didn’t really feel like that. As Wesley said, I still had the moves.

Whether he has the moves or not, Cliff Hardy keeps finding himself in trouble. Since he had his private investigator’s license stripped, his life has taken multiple twists and turns. Most recently, he’s lost all his money to an unscrupulous financial advisor, and now he’s at risk of losing everything. So when he has the chance to find said advisor and perhaps avoid total ruin, he takes it – even though officially he’s not allowed to investigate anything.

Cliff Hardy has graced the pages of Australian crime novels for thirty years, and it is wonderful to see him back in Follow the Money. Like a favourite coat, each new tale fits comfortably so that fans know what to expect – but at the same time the character grows and develops a little each time. Follow the Money is no exception. Cliff is in new danger and must face new challenges personally too, meaning that the story avoids becoming too predictable.

Another satisfying instalment.

Follow the Money

Follow the Money, by Peter Corris
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742373799

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Sharp Turn, by Marianne Delacourt

‘It’s from Wal Grominsky. He says, Keep a watch out for anyone tailing y–‘
I planted the accelerator and ran the red light, ripping a sharp left off the highway soon after.
‘–ou,’ Ed oophed out. He fell hard against his door and yelped in pain but I didn’t have time for apologies. In fact, I didn’t say a word for half-a-dozen more hairpin turns and a backtrack around the water tank on top of the Mosman Park hill.
Ed rubbed his shoulder. ‘What the-‘

Unorthodox PI Tara Sharp needs new clients, but she’s less than impressed when Madame Vine, proprietor of a high-class brothel, wants to hire her to sort out her staff. When the chance to work on a mystery threatening a high-profile motor racing team comes up, she’s much more keen. Tara is a petrol head, and hanging out at the track – and getting paid for it – seems like heaven to her.

But it isn’t long before Tara’s life is once again in danger. A body found floating in the Swan River reminds her that Johnny Viaspa may have it in for her. Add in a murder at Madam Vine’s abd a mysterious greay car tailing her, and it seems certain that Tara is in for more action than she bargained for.

Sharp Turn is the second action-filled crime novel in the Tara Sharp series, set in and around Perth. Tara is a sassy, clever investigator with the unorthodox investigative skill of being able to read auras. She is surrounded by an eclectic mix of characters, including a narcoleptic body guard, a runaway teen, posh parents and enough hunky men to satisfy any reader.

Readers will look forward to seeing more of Tara Sharp.

Sharp Turn

Sharp Turn, by Marianne Delacourt
Allen & Unwin, 2010
ISBN 9781742370033

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Thrill City, by Leigh Redhead

Remembering my training I depressed the door handle with my elbow, nudged it open with my foot, then wished to god I hadn’t. My stomach shrivelled and I had to lean against the frame to stop my legs bucking beneath me.
I was staring into an office with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the river. More unpacked boxes were stacked against the walls, and between me and the massive desk sat a high-packed leather swivel chair, facing away.
And the whole room was covered in blood.

Simone Kirsch is back in business, celebrating the opening of her very own detective agency. But when crime novelist Nick Austin hires her to show him how she works, she doesn’t expect this innocent-sounding job to land her deep in hot water. Nick’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered, Nick himself disappears, and Simone is deep in trouble. Someone wants to kill her, and her investigative license has been suspended. Only by finding Nick Austin, and figuring out who wants to kill both her and him, will she get her life back on track.

Thrill City is the fourth title featuring sassy ex-stripper turned PI Simone Kirsch and ,like its predecessors, this offering is a blend of action, suspense and wry humour. Kirsch is likeable, flawed, and self-deprecating. Her first person narration takes the reader on a ride through the highs and lows of her investigation and her personal life. Favourite characters from earlier books, including her friend Chloe, now heavily pregnant, also add interest.

Great stuff.

Thrill City

Thrill City, by Leigh Redhead
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

Blood Moon, by Garry Disher

It is schoolies week and in Waterloo, on the Mornington Peninsula, police are already stretched dealing with drunk, rowdy or simply exuberant teens. But then the bashing of a well-connected school chaplain puts pressure on Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his crew, and the subsequent murder of a local planning officer creates chaos.

While police investigate the two major crimes they must also deal with a sexual assault on a female schoolie, the mysterious drugging and humiliation of a toolie, and his gun rampage seeking retribution. meanwhile, the police officers have personal issues to deal with Hal is in a relationship with Sergeant Ellen Destry, another Sergeant, Scobie Sutton, has marriage problems, and tension is brewing between three uniformed officers.

Blood Moon is a wonderful crime fiction offering, with lots going on. The various crimes at times overlap, and the lives of different members of Hal’s team are explored along the way. The characters’ lives are as important as the solving of the crimes, with the reader able to connect with victims and investigators alike.

An absorbing read.

Blood Moon

Blood Moon, by Garry Disher
Text Publishing, 2010

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

Torn Apart, by Peter Corris

I remembered what my mother – a hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, piano-thumping descendant of Irish gypsies – used to say when my father a dour, sober man, bemoaned a difficult circumstance: ‘Never you mind, boyo. Something’ll turn up.’ For her, it mostly did, and right then it did for me when I met my cousin, Patrick.

Cliff Hardy is at a loose end. He’s been stripped of his license as a private detective, his partner Lily is dead , and he has to take things slow after bypass surgery. But when his cousin Patrick appears, he finds himself with a new lease on life. Together the pair travel to Ireland, and then set up home together. It all seems to be working fine – until Patrick is murdered. This is personal – and Cliff is determined to solve the case and figure out who killed Patrick, and whether the bullet was in fact intended for Cliff himself.

Torn Apart is the thirty fifth title in the Cliff Hardy series, and has many of the traits which have ensured the success of the series, whilst still managing to be fresh enough to be interesting. Hardy continues to grow as a character – learning new things about himself and adapting to the changes his life brings. At the same time, he never fails to solve the mystery, or to get into scrapes along the way.

Torn Apart is a fine read, in a new C format paperback.

Torn Apart, by Peter Corris
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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