If I Tell You … I'll Have to Kill You, edited by Michael Robotham

Geoffrey McGeachin’s number one writing rule is Real writing is rewriting. Gabrielle Lord’s is Make writing your first priority, and Peter Corris doesn’t want to set rules but does advise learning from both mistakes and successes. With nineteen others, these crime writers share their journey to publication, their writing processes, tips and rules, and recommended reads in If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets.

Whilst suitable for anyone with an interest in crime fiction or true crime, this offering is most likely to appeal to writers (and aspiring writes) of the genre. The contributors are all multi published Australian authors, who’ve also had success on the international stage. Though crime is the common ground, the range of their writing focus is broad – from true crime, to detective novel, to historical fiction and more.

Because each chapter is contributed by a different author, the book can be either read cover to cover or dipped into, and while the focus is crime writing, writers of all interests and levels of experience are likely to find value in both the writing advice and the sharing of journeys to publication (and beyond).

Other contributors include Kerry Greenwood. Garry Disher, Barry Maitland and Leigh Redhead.



If I Tell You… I’ll Have to Kill You: Australia’s Leading Crime Writers Reveal Their Secrets, edited by Michael Robotham
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743313480

Available from good bookstores and 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.

Cooking the Books, by Kerry Greenwood

Corinna Chapman is supposed to be on holidays. She has closed the bakery for January, sent her apprentice Jason off on holidays and is supposed to be relaxing.

He smiled at me. My heart did a complete flip-flop with pike. Beautiful Daniel, my Sabra turned private detective, who out of all the women in the city picked me, an ample size 20 who worked too hard making bread at my bakery, Eartly Delights. Since the advent of Daniel I have become susceptible to the idea that miracles might really happen.

Corinna Chapman is supposed to be on holidays. She has closed the bakery for January, sent her apprentice Jason off on holidays and is supposed to be relaxing. But when an old friend asks – nay, demands – that Corinna help her with the baking for the set of a soap opera, she finds herself back at work baking. And, of course, wherever Corinna goes there is a mystery or two to solve.

On the set of ‘Kis the Bride’, where Corinna’s two bakery assistants have scored roles, a diva is searching for clues to the fate of her long-lost son, and someone is busy sabotaging the soapie. Meanwhile, elsewhere in town, a young accounting intern is being harassed by her employers. Along the way she’s managed to lose a stack of valuable bonds. Daniel, Corinna’s beautiful boyfriend, and a private eye, has been hired to find the bonds and restore the girl’s name.

Cooking the Books is the sixth title featuring the divine Corinna Chapman, baker, ex-accountant and part time sleuth. As a reader you can’t help loving Corinna – and she is surrounded by people who find her similarly pleasing – Daniel, Jason, the grils, and most of the eclectic residents of her apartment building. The other problem the readers strikes is battling hunger pangs. Corinna loves food, and the reader is taken on a culinary journey. Fortunately author Kerry Greenwood provides some recipes at the back of the book.

Wonderful stuff.

Cooking the Books

Cooking the Books, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742370217

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

Forbidden Fruit, by Kerry Greenwood

It is Christmas time, a season that Corinna Chapman hates, and a heat wave is stifling the whole city. But still bread and muffins must be baked, and Corinna and her apprentice Jason are doing just that, keeping their clientele – which has grown to include a rosewater loving donkey – happy. In between times, Corinna is kept busy helping her divine private investigator boyfriend Daniel as he searches for two teenage runaways.

Brigid is heavily pregnant and Manny is helping her run from her family, who have been keeping her captive. Daniel and Corinna’s search is hampered by the runaways’ fear, and by the strange men in suits who seem to want the girl, and her baby. Fortunately, they also have at their disposal an eclectic range of helpers – free spirit freegans, over-zealous vegans, internet hackers and even a witch.

Forbidden Fruit is the fifth adventure featuring baker Corinna Chapman and her intriguing friends and associates. Corinna is a dry witted, feisty woman, with an unmatchable view of the world. Readers will be delighted to see regular characters from previous volumes including Meroe the witch, dreamy Daniel and shop girls Goss and Kylie, as well as new characters including Brigid and Manny and Serena the donkey. Food lovers will also love the elaborate detail of the food which is entwined throughout the plot.


Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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

Trick or Treat, by Kerry Greenwood

‘Gone, gone,’ mourned the young man. He seemed unaware of Meroe’s existence. He kept bumping against her in a vague way, as though she was a wall in his path. She turned him gently so that he was facing an actual wall and he continued to try to walk through it.

Corinna Chapman is worried. Not only has a new bread shop opened up nearby, but her gorgeous boyfriend Daniel has an old friend staying with him – an old friend who is blonde, leggy and up to something. Perhaps most worrying of all, however, is the way that people are going mad in the proximity of Corinna’s shop after eating, of all things, bread. Surely Corinna hasn’t inadvertently poisoned them?

Trick or Treat is the fourth adventure for Corinna, a reluctant amateur sleuth who has turned her back on life as an accountant to run her bakery. Whilst it is definitely a crime fiction novel, it is also something more, as Corinna’s little corner of Melbourne is brought to life with an eclectic cast of misfits, eccentrics and just plain nice people. The more one reads of this series, the more one feels that the people are real. The reader is drawn into their lives and their dramas, caring what happens to them.

Good stuff.

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2007

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

Ravens Rising, by Kerry Greenwood

‘We have them now. It will work,’ said the first voice, sweet and breathy but just off key enough to irritate a musical ear.
‘ It might,’ said the other.
‘Surely they cannot resist,’ said the first voice. ‘Such seductions, such delights as we can show them, until they are altogether enslaved and incapable of resistance?’
‘One will resist,’ said second voice. ‘Just out of sheer bloody-minded perversity. I ought to know. He’s my son.’

When the Ravens return to the University after bringing down the lightning Nest, they find it seemingly deserted and under the spell of some strange force. The gates are locked, but when Dismas breaks the code and gets them in, they find themselves trapped. The unseen force wants to control their thoughts, and to use their bodies to become human.

Ravens Rising is the third title in the Stormbringer trilogy and brings the Ravens together in a battle to maintain their very humanity. Whilst it is most accessible to those who have read the first two books in the series, The Rat and The Raven it is still quite readable for the reader new to the series.

Raven's Rising (Stormbringer)

Ravens Rising, by Kerry Greenwood
Lothian, 2006

Devil's Food, by Kerry Greenwood

He gave me the axe. I let out the breath I had been holding and went upstairs to prepare to face the day, which meant that while I was dressing my coffee would be brewing. You may keep your energy drinks with their strange over-scent of curried grass. I am faithful to the superlative bean. No coffee, no baking. It’s a simple rule.

Corinna Chapman loves food. In fact her life revolves around it. She’s the proprietor of the Earthly Delights bakery and is at her happiest when she is watching customers enjoy her wares,. So, when a strange cult is established in her neighbourhood she is not happy. The cult advocates starvation as a way to God and eats only famine bread which tastes, to Corinna, like sawdust.

As if the cult isn’t upsetting enough, Corinna has a more personal drama to deal with. Her mother, Starshine, is in town, in search of Corinna’s father, Sunlight, who is missing on the streets of Melbourne. Corinna and Daniel, her handsome private eye boyfriend, must find Sunlight, and unravel the sinister happenings which seem to have links with the cult.

Devil’s Food is the third mystery featuring Corinna Chapman. It uses the winning formula of mystery, adventure, food and friendship. Corinna lives in a whimsical apartment block populated by an eclectic mix of residents and numerous cats, all of whom play roles in each mystery and its resolution, so that the reader has a growing sense of knowing these characters. Whilst the mysteries touch on dark and frightening events, they do so through the eyes of a warm and wryly humorous protagonist in Corinna, making them enjoyable and entertaining, and easy to devour.

Very digestible.

Devil’s Food, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2006

Heavenly Pleasures, by Kerry Greenwood

Corinna Chapman likes the quiet life: good food, good company and her daily work as a baker. She doesn’t really want mystery and intrigue in her life. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t have much choice.

Corinna’s apartment building seems to be a magnet for mystery and mayhem and, with her new lover Daniel a private investigator, Corinna seems destined to be involved in solving these mysteries.

This second book in the series sees a prankster spiking the chocolates at the nearby Heavenly Pleasures chocolate store, an attempt to blow up the apartment block, and strange new residents moving in.

This new series has some of the hallmarks of author Kerry Greenwood’s other long running series – the Phryne Fisher mysteries: mystery (of course), good food, gorgeous young men and a sassy central female character. But Corinna Chapman is not a modern day Phryne Fisher. Where Phryne is classy and independently wealthy, Corinna is overweight, frumpy and tied to her bread shop. Where Phryne has a butler and a ladies’ maid, Corinna’s helpers in her shop are Jason, a recovering drug addict, and two anorexic models. What is common in the two is that Greenwood manages to portray each so skilfully.

Heavenly Pleasures is a delicious offering and, for those who may have been put off by some of the darker parts of its prequel, Earthly Delights, this title is a little more mainstream in taste.

Heavenly Pleasures, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2005

The Green Mill Murder, by Kerry Greenwood

It was eleven by the Green Mill’s clock when the cornet player went into a muted reprise in ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, and one of the marathon dancers plunged heavily and finally to the floor at Phryne Fisher’s feet. She stumbled over him. His partner dropped to her knees with a wail.

There is no prelude to the murder in this book. The murder takes place in paragraph one and the rest of the book is devoted to the business of solving the mystery and wrapping up the side dramas which arise as a consequence.

No-nonsense amateur sleuth, the Hon. Phryne Fisher is at the scene of the murder and, of course, decides she will solve it, especially when her dance partner, Charles Freeman, disappears from the scene. Although he seems the prime suspect, Phryne is quite sure he isn’t guilty. She isn’t, however, sure who is, nor how they managed to stab a man without coming near him. Phryne, however, delights in a good mystery and will pursue it relentlessly until it is solved.

This is Phryne Fisher’s fifth msytery and, like its predecessors, provides plenty of action. As well as the mystery of the murder, there are the additional puzzles of Charles Freeman’s missing brother and the absentee husband of one of the band members. Like all of author Greenwood’s offerings, there is a plethora of fine food, good music, quality wine and – of course – beautiful men, all of which Phryne Fisher is devoted to.

Phryne Fisher is a woman before her time in 1920s Melbourne, with tastes and attitudes that shock some of her more conservative peers, but the money and class to get away with them. She is a strong, liberated woman, but certainly not averse to partaking of male assistance when required.

The Greenmill Murder was first published in 1993 by McPhee Gribble and has now been republished by Allen & Unwin.

An absorbing read.

The Greenmill Murder, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2005

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood

‘Come for a walk, Phryne dear,’ said Bernard, looking harried. . . He lead her out into the passage and said rapidly, ‘I need your help. This is only the latest thing that has gone awry. Let me take you to supper, Phryne darling, and I’ll tell you all about it.’

Having been involved in a skrimish with thugs on her way to the theatre, the last thing Phryne wants or expects is to be involved in more off-stage dramas. But her luck is not running well. An actor has been killed while he’s been performing on stage. Sir Bernard, the company manager, wants Phryne to solve the msytery.

But the murder is not the only mishap. A ghost has been haunting the theatre, things have been going missing and the entire cast and crew are on edge.

This is the seventh Phryne Fisher mystery, first published in 1995 and now republished by Allen & Unwin. As well as an intriguing mystery played out in the theatre, it is also the book which introduces the handsome Lin Chun, Phryne’s oriental lover who plays a role in each subsequent title.

Phryne Fisher is a sassy yet classy private detective with a taste for the mysterious, as well as for the fine things in life – fast cars, good wine, beautiful clothes and more.

Ruddy Gore, which takes its name from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Ruddigore (the production on show at the theatre) is an enjoyable and intriguing offering.

Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood
Allen & Unwin, 2004, first published by McPhee Gribble, 1995