Category Archives: Mystery

The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland -a review

The Carnival is OverThe Carnival is Over (Mick Goodenough #2) by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

Greg Woodland, author of the acclaimed The Night Whistler, returns with another nailbiting rural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Published 2 August 2022 |  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

A follow up on The Night Whistler, The Carnival is Over is set approximately 5 years after the events in The Night Whistler. Hal and Allie are on the verge of adulthood and Mick Goodenough promoted to Sergeant and quite settled in Moorabool. And yet, he still likes to rock the boat especially when he’s got his teeth into a puzzling mystery.

The Carnival is Over is a thoroughly enjoyable complex mystery that kept you guessing all the time with just enough suspense to get your heart racing. The switch of views from character to character were done smoothly and flawlessly that I had no problem following. If you like The Night Whistler, then you’d love The Carnival is Over.

My thanks to Text Publishing for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien -a review

All Thats Left UnsaidAll That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

There were a dozen witnesses to Denny Tran’s brutal murder in a busy Sydney restaurant. So how come no one saw anything?

‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny,exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam,and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.

Tracey Lien’s extraordinary debut pulls apart the intricate bonds of friendship, family, culture and community that produced a devastating crime. All That’s Left Unsaid is both a study of the effects of inherited trauma and social discrimination, and a compulsively readable literary thriller that expertly holds the reader in its grip until the final page.

Published 30 August 2022  |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Ky didn’t allow her mother to have feelings, because to grant her these would mean acknowledging that she was a person who had desires and dreams beyond what Ky saw. It was easier to imagine her as a caricature, as an immigrant Cabramatta parent, whose only desire was for her children to become doctors and lawyers (or ideally both), whose only means of expressing love to them was through cooking their meals, washing their clothes, and criticizing them into being better people.

My background isn’t Vietnamese nor refugee however I’m married into one and hence, this book piqued my interest. In the 90s, I was in my teens and we didn’t live anywhere near Cabramatta though we heard stories, of course. Despite Cabramatta not being my own stomping ground and my childhood, as sheltered as it was, there were many moments in the book that were just so identifiable in many different ways.

Ky is the main protagonist whom readers follow as she tried to find out how and why her brother was murdered. However, at least half of the novel is told from and of other people involved in this mystery. So much so that, near the end of the book, I feel that the structure of this novel is like a jigsaw puzzle where each piece reflects a different facet of this community and together, they form a full picture, albeit with cracks.

All That’s Left Unsaid is a novel of loss, of grief, of burdens we were given and picked up throughout our lives. Author’s prose is concise and phrases are polished to a shine; it is sharp as papercut. Please do yourself a kindness and read this book.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Night Ship by Jess Kidd -a review

the night shipThe Night Ship by Jess Kidd

ONE SHIPWRECK.
TWO MISFITS.
THREE CENTURIES APART.

1629. Embarking on a journey in search of her father, a young girl called Mayken boards the Batavia, the most impressive sea vessel of the age. During the long voyage, this curious and resourceful child must find her place in the ship’s stratified world. She soon uncovers shadowy secrets above and below deck and as tensions spiral, the fate of the ship and all on board becomes increasingly uncertain.

1989. Gil, a boy mourning the death of his mother, is placed in the care of his cranky grandfather. Their home is a shack on a tiny fishing island off the West Australian coast, notable only for its reefs and wrecked boats. This is no place for a boy struggling with a dark past, and Gil’s actions soon get him noticed by the wrong people.

The Night Ship is an enthralling tale of human brutality, fate and friendship – and of two children, hundreds of years apart, whose destinies are inextricably bound together.

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

“The dead can’t hurt you, Gil. It’s the living you need to watch out for.”

I read a history book on Batavia a few years ago so I knew the horrific things that went on then. I was curious though with the last line of the book description, “two children, hundreds of years apart, whose destinies are inextricably bound together.” This seems like a timeslip sort of read to me which is a favourite of mine.

Of course, then, there are 2 perspectives: Mayken in 1629 as a passenger of Batavia and Gil in 1989 as boy coming to live with his grandfather on Beacon Island. Neither fit their expected moulds and seek to express their individualism which attracted scorn and more. There wasn’t actually a huge link between them but what there was keeps making me think that there was going to be more. Sitting back after the read, however, I thought what there was was rather sweet in its poignancy and nothing more is needed.

The Night Ship is a story of grief and courage; the depravity of people and also the loving side of human nature. It’s all bound up together is a messy knot but you just can’t give up hope. A terribly riveting read as I could truly imagine myself being tossed about by the waves on a ship made of wood and all kinds of horrible smells abound. I was completely mesmerised by the characters and very much under their spells as I just needed to know what happens to them at the end.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr -a review

All Four Quarters of the MoonAll Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr

A big-hearted story of love and resilience, starring sisters and storytellers Peijing and Biju, a lost family finding their way, a Little World made of paper, a Jade Rabbit, and the ever-changing but constant moon.

Making mooncakes with Ah Ma for the Mid-Autumn Festival was the last day of Peijing’s old life. Now, adapting to their new life in Australia, Peijing thinks everything will turn out okay for her family as long as they have each other – but cracks are starting to appear.

Her little sister, Biju, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ma Ma is no longer herself; Ah Ma keeps forgetting who she is; and Ba Ba, who used to work seven days a week, is adjusting to being a hands-on dad.

How will Peijing cope with the uncertainties of her own little world while shouldering the burden of everyone else? And if Peijing’s family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she fit in?

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

What we all should be is our favorite versions of ourselves

I am very privileged to have been gifted this copy by the author, Shirley Marr, and even as I got to read this second (my 12 yo got his hands on it first), I am truly humbled by the reading experience. Such a moving story overflowing with feelings and many sage advices.

The novel opens with a beautiful celebration of Mid Autumn festival amid the utter shambles of moving. The Guo family is leaving the very next day, to fly over the vast ocean, away from the embrace of their big noisy family. They are moving to Australia for a better job for Ba Ba (father), better education for the girls, and a better life for all the family. I remember my own big move to Australia and all the feelings which Peijing, our protagonist, struggled with; it’s big and complex and the author has caught all this perfectly in Peijing.

The Guo family is made up of some truly beautiful characters: wise Ah ma (grandmother), surprisingly involved Ba Ba (father), broken but strong Ma Ma (mother), a very good older sister (Peijing the protagonist), and a lively younger sister (Biju). They are not perfect but they are a family. While the story is told from Peijing’s perspectives and we see her struggles most (especially in the big adjustment of a new country), we see many bits and pieces of the others as they face their own struggles. It makes a very poignant tale.

While I arrive in Australia a decade later than the setting in this book, the very real push & pull between cultures, past & present, adults & children still do exist. Even today, I struggle on what I should adopt or preserve and instil in my own children! This novel explored all these and more. We were shown thoughts and feelings from different characters, both children and adult. I loved this part of the story as this is an ongoing struggle, every day, and I’m so happy to be able to share something like this with my children who are so lucky to have been born and living in Australia.

In between chapters, we are given snippets of stories Biju tells Peijing. These stories are mythology based orally told which she first heard from the older generation. These stories are weaved in throughout the main plot of the novel and also in a way, are reflected in life lessons. As usual, these stories usually have moral lessons but as you hear them from a 5 year old, their take (as you know) can be quite refreshing and sometimes, enlightening. I can’t help but snort laugh at some of their perspectives of these stories/morals.

All Four Quarters of the Moon is a story about a young girl. Of 2 sisters. Of everlasting friendships. Of cultures and growing up. Of the fragility and preciousness of life. But at the very centre of it, a heartwarming story of family.

My heartfelt thanks to the author for sending me an uncorrected proof of this book. All thoughts are honest & mine

About the author

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The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth -a review

the crimson threadThe Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth

Set in Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka, a young Greek woman, saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

Jack and Teddy are childhood friends who joined up together to see the world. Both men fall in love with Alenka. They are forced to retreat with the tattered remains of the Allied forces over the towering White Mountains. Both are among the 7000 Allied soldiers left behind in the desperate evacuation from Crete’s storm-lashed southern coast.

Alenka hides Jack and Teddy at great risk to herself. Her brother Axel is a Nazi sympathiser and collaborator, and spies on her movements.

As Crete suffers under the Nazi jackboot, Alenka is drawn into an intense triangle of conflicting emotions with Jack and Teddy. Their friendship suffers under the strain of months of hiding and their rivalry for her love. Together, they join the resistance and fight to free the island, but all three will find themselves tested to their limits. Alenka must choose whom to trust and whom to love and, in the end, whom to save.

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

whoever fights monsters need to take care they do not become a monster themselves

The Crimson Thread is one of my highly anticipated 2022 release. Primarily due to Kate Forsyth being a favourite author of mine, starting with her earlier fantasy series and also, I have mostly enjoyed her ‘series’ of loose fairy tale retellings. Her novels always feature strong and intelligent heroines determined to carve their own places in the world and not where society expects them to.

I love WWII stories so I thought for sure this one was going to be a winner for me. BUT! Love triangles, oh, I wanted to cry… However, Forsyth’s writing was just so immersive that it kept drawing me on and on to the ending. I have a deep seated anxiety that usually, I would have dropped the book like a hot potato. Her lyrical writing with her clever weaving of Greek mythology were such that I couldn’t bear not to finish. Of course, it helped that one other character was a definite putz so you could tell earlier on which pairing is it.

5 stars for the brilliant craft and prose but I just had to take off one teeny bit little star because I was just too too upset with the triangle trope. The Crimson Thread is a mesmerising story of courage and resilience, friendship and betrayal, and of course, of love.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Stone Town by Margaret Hickey -a review

stone townStone Town by Margaret Hickey

Stone Town is captivating new rural crime drama from the author of the bestselling Cutters End.

With its gold-rush history long in the past, Stone Town has seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons . . .

When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a property developer, whose controversial plan to buy up local land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However, his gruesome murder is overshadowed by a mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsed.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook’ Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

Following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game . . .

Published 1 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Cutters Ends, Hickey’s debut, was published last year and I enjoyed it tremendously so it was with keen anticipation, I cracked open Stone Town wherein, once again, we meet Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti. Hmm… confused already? I was pretty sure he was a detective and lived in Adelaide! The first few pages threw me off a bit but a bit later on, I found out that at least a year has passed since Cutters EndsOnly once I accepted that quite some time has passed and a number of personal events occurred with Ariti, did I manage to proceed with the present issue/crime.

I enjoyed this setting quite a lot especially with Mark Ariti resettling himself as a local, living in what was his mother’s but now his home, and just being in the know of the local gossips and networks. Though apparently not as well as he thought. That last twist in the epilogue was just gold!

Once more, Hickey has delivered a remarkable rural crime novel. A rather laidback pacing comparable to a rural kind of life but such twists and turns that shocked and thrilled readers all at the same time. While Stone Town is a sequel, I don’t believe that you need to read Cutters End to enjoy this one. This one reads quite well as a stand alone despite some references to earlier case but you really didn’t need to know. Fair warning, though, you’d probably want to read Cutters End after this, if you haven’t already.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci -a review

The 620 ManThe 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

Having survived combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and been decorated with medals, Travis Devine mysteriously leaves the Army under a cloud of suspicion. And at thirty-two years old, he’s swapping fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda for a different kind of danger in the cut-throat world of high finance.

His daily commute on the 6.20 a.m. train into New York’s financial district, to his new job as an analyst at the minted powerhouse investment bank Cowl and Comely, takes him into a world where greed, power, jealousy and ambition result in the financial abuse of the masses and the enrichment of an elite few. But it is on this daily journey that he passes a house where he sees something that sounds alarm signals he cannot ignore.

A close friend of Devine’s, Sarah Ewes, is the first victim and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death at Cowl and Comely compel him to investigate further. As he digs deeper, he discovers strange coincidences and unnerving truths. As the deaths pile up, and the major players show their hands, he must question who he can trust and who he must fight.

Published 28 June 2022  |  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$34.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I have to admit that while I’m a huge fan of a couple of Baldacci’s series (Atlee Pine &  John Puller), I just couldn’t get into the others. My interest in this one is really geared by the idea of this protagonist’s  9 to 5 grind, which basically is also my life (thanks, Financial lines!), until life threw a huge spanner in his way. This made a great thrilling read (but I don’t want that kind of spanner in my life, lol).

Travis Devine is an easily likeable character. He’s highly intelligent and also physically capable man. And he wants truth and justice to prevail but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen in real life. Due to a misstep, he is now punishing himself and redemption seems far away especially when the past came back to haunt him. There is no choice for Devine now but to dive in and find the killers as well as deal with the underhanded world of Wall Street. 

He is definitely a hit with me. Baldacci definitely knows his craft and kept the pace tight yet the human interest of Devine and other characters were truly touching. I don’t think the whole mystery is quite wrapped up yet though I could be wrong but I think, I hope, that this is just a set up (a first book) for a series. I’d love to see Travis Devine again and hopefully, see him more settled in his role.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Falcon by Isabella Maldonado -a review

The FalconThe Falcon (Nina Guerrera #3) by Isabella Maldonado

A serial killer wants to play. FBI Agent Nina Guerrera has no time for games.

Six female undergrads at an elite university vanish. The media descends. The families demand action. And as Special Agent Nina Guerrera follows clue by chilling clue, she realizes she’s tracking the most cunning predator of her career.

The case takes a turn for the worse, and the bizarre, when several victims are found perfectly preserved. No signs of violence, no hint of how they died. Just more evidence that the killer is cruel, calculating, and a master of mind control.

With her mission compromised, Nina must face her greatest failure—and greatest fear—to stop a deadly hunter before he claims another prize.

Published 28 June 2022 |  Publisher: Thomas & Mercer  |  RRP: AUD$25.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Special Agent Nina Guerrera is definitely one of my favourite fictional crime buster. She’s oh-so-broken but yet oh-so-kick-ass!! And her loyal teammates are just the perfect foil to her solitary warrior outlook. As the mystery to her background was pretty much resolved in the last book, I was curious where the author was going to take Nina next and whether it will be comparably thrilling… no worries there, she’s definitely got me engaged and I really can’t wait to see Nina develop as a character in future.

I don’t want to give too much away but The Falcon was an intriguing mix of Egyptology, psychology, falconry, technology, and so many other interesting bits which made the read really fascinating. There were some images which may be a lot paper in print but I had to skip reading because it was just too small on my basic kindle. Plus, one particular incident which didn’t quite make sense to me but as I read an uncorrected proof, this might’ve been fixed for the final print. Otherwise, this series is becoming one of my favourites and I can’t wait for book 4.

My thanks to Thomas & Mercer for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill -a review

the woman in the libraryThe Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquillity is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Published 7 June 2022|  Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Woah, I thought I was ready for whatever Sulari Gentill can throw at me after that mind-bending twists of Crossing the Lines but she’s got a mean throwing arm! The Woman in the Library is a clever, imaginative thriller and so much fun to read.

The structure of the book is that of a letter from “Leo” and a chapter of story (which is found above in book description). At first, I did wonder which is “real” and which is fictional [remember, Crossing the Lines?!]. However, the author has something quite different in mind in this novel so it wasn’t quite that long before all is revealed and pretty soon, instead of one mystery, we have 2… Bonus!

As much as I enjoyed reading about the four strangers drawn together as friends, I was also very much drawn to the other mystery for which we pretty much only get Leo’s letters to read by. And yet, because of that limited scope, it’s that much more creepy and therefore, thrilling.

Another brilliant offering by a much loved author, Sulari Gentill, and one I’d highly recommend as it was very much an irresistible page-turner.

My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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An A-List for Death – Pamela Hart -a review

An A-List for DeathAn A-List for Death (Poppy McGowan Mysteries #2) by Pamela Hart

TV researcher Poppy McGowan has never sought the spotlight and is none too happy to be photographed with rock god Nathan Castle. When the photo pops up on celebrity gossip sites, it sparks a media feeding frenzy, forcing Poppy to go to ground, don a wig, and pull some nifty moves to escape a tailing car. On top of that, she cops abuse from Nathan’s outraged fans.

None of this would have happened if Poppy hadn’t found Nathan’s mother Daisy, one-time glamour girl and elderly best friend of her Aunty Mary, bleeding and unconscious in her bathroom. The police dismiss the case as an accident, but Poppy is sure there are questions to be answered. Who attacked Daisy, and why? Will she come out of her coma? What secrets are her gathering family hiding? What happens to Daisy’s money if she dies?

When a murder occurs outside Daisy’s flat, the police step in at last. Unfortunately, they finger Poppy’s boyfriend, Tol, for the crime – after all, he had bad blood with the victim. As Daisy’s money-hungry family circle amid hints of poisoning, bribery and blackmail, Poppy must find a way to clear Tol’s name and ensure Daisy’s safety.

Published 1 June 2022|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

A terribly fun read! I enjoyed this second instalment better than the first book. It was easy and light to read with just enough hints on the mystery to keep you going all the way to the end. Of course, the romantic tingles between Poppy & Tol, and their solid trust in each other, kept me fully warm and happy.

The only problem I had was keeping up with the numerous characters. Even as the story is told purely from Poppy’s perspective, there were moments where I had to stop and try to think who this particular character is again in relation to Poppy & others in the book.

I love that it’s set in today’s Sydney and enjoyed zipping about with Poppy whose innate goodness touched all those around her. I truly appreciate the safe-ness and yet, still exciting, relationship between Poppy & Tol (so many books on brokenness that this was so comforting). Overall, An A-List for Death was a very relaxing and very entertaining read.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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