Tag Archives: crime

Review: Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox


Gone by Midnight (Crimson Lake #3) by Candice Fox

Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.

For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril . . .

Published 22 January 2019 |  Publisher: Penguin Books Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

This review is in relation to book 3 of the series and I have done my best to avoid any spoilers. If you wish, you may read my review on books 1 & 2: here & here

Wow! I sincerely hope that Candice Fox never stops writing. She has a recognisable unique voice and I just love it! It’s snappy. And kooky. And snort-out-loud-hilarious. I love her characters; their pains & fears, vulnerabilities & courage, their humanity amidst evil. The plot & structure all very neatly tied up and as always, explosive snappy endings.

I still can’t get my head around Amanda Pharrell. She’s just as loud, in-your-face, and unpredictable as she ever was. This is just what I love; being taken on by surprise by an author because this is a rare thing for me, tbh. On the other hand, Ted Conkaffey is healing and shaping up to be more human; his fatherhood and his hopes & dreams are starting to pull him out of the crushing weight of his misery.

A tense beginning punctured by Amanda’s brassy entrance (I adored this scene!) followed by deft weaving of plot threads with touches of comic reliefs made Gone by Midnight a finely tuned suspense read.  I can’t wait for the next instalment which promises to be most explosive of the series so far. Oh, and it’s Not Candice Fox’s Crimson Lake if there is no crocodiles; crocs abound!

I would not recommend you to read this book before the other 2 because you’ll miss a lot of background and also because, there were some repercussions in this book from the ending of book 2. So, if you haven’t read this series yet, Chop! Chop! Don’t miss out on a cracking crime series!

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. All her subsequent novels – Fall, Crimson Lake and Redemption Point – have been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. Her new novel, Gone by Midnight, will publish in January 2019.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the US and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Its sequel, Fifty Fifty, was released in 2017 and their third collaboration, Liar Liar, in August 2018. They have also co-written a prequel novella, Black & Blue, as part of the James Patterson BookShots series.

Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

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Review: The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peder Nordbo

The Girl Without Skin (Grønland – Greenland #1) by Mads Peder Nordbo

They were near the edge of the glacier. The sea beneath the helicopter was dense with pack ice. In front of them, the endless whiteness stretched as far as the light could reach. It hurt his eyes. Millions of white crystals. Except in one place. One spot. Right where the mummified Norseman had been found and Aqqalu had kept watch. There, the ice was glossy red.

When a mummified Viking corpse is discovered in a crevasse out on the edge of an ice sheet, journalist Matthew Cave is sent to cover the story. The next day the mummy is gone, and the body of the policeman who was keeping watch is found naked and flayed—exactly like the victims in a gruesome series of murders that terrified the remote town of Nuuk in the 1970s.

As Matt investigates, he is shocked by the deprivation and brutal violence the locals take for granted. Unable to trust the police, he begins to suspect a cover-up. It’s only when he meets a young Inuit woman, Tupaarnaq, convicted of killing her parents and two small sisters, that Matt starts to realise how deep this story goes—and how much danger he is in.

Text Publishing |  1 October 2018  |  AUD$29.99

My Blurb (3/5 stars)

I’ve watched pretty much all the Nordic crime shows on Netflix which is one reason I’m interested in this book. The title itself, The Girl Without Skin, is intriguing despite the promised gruesomeness. But I’m still not quite sure how this title work… it’s definitely not a literal meaning.

The opening chapter captured my interest easily despite breaking heart. Matthew Cave lost all meaning to his life in one horrific accident. He fled and found himself in Nuuk (Greenland). When a mummified corpse was found, he expected it to be a worldwide breaking news but instead it set off a series of murders that are eerily similar to the one in 1970s.

About 70% of the book is told from Matthew’s perspective in the present time as he followed up clues to crack this mystery. The rest of the book is journal entries by a police officer in the 70s who investigated those murders but then disappeared, leaving this notebook behind. The root of the mystery though is not the murders themselves but something else that is dark and has never yet seen the light.

At roughly halfway through the book Matthew appeared to have gained a sidekick, Tupaarnaq. Though really, I reckon he’s the sidekick in this partnership; Tupaarnaq is one tough chick -hiding a world of hurt. I don’t know if anyone else sees this but she reminds me of Amanda Pharrell from Crimson Lake series (except for Amanda’s unique & quirky sense of humour).  I’d be more interested to hear her perspective.

I very much enjoyed the setting, atmosphere, & cultural differences I found in The Girl Without Skin but overall, I didn’t particularly found the mystery engaging. I wasn’t surprised by any twists and found myself disappointed by how easily the mysteries of Tupaarnaq’s past (um, yes, I Googled on how to pronounce that name!) & Matthew’s father’s disappearance were dismissed. I’d be interested in the sequel though as I’d like to see the development of this partnership.

Thanks to Text Publishing for copy of book in exchange of honest review.

About the author

Mads Peder Nordbo is Danish but has lived in Nuuk for several years. Born in 1970, he hold degrees in Literature, Communications and Philosophy from The University of Southern Denmark and the University of Stockholm. Mads has lived in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Greenland. He works in communications at the Town Hall in Nuuk, where he amongst other things, writes for the mayor of the municipality, Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq, which stretches across the Greenland ice sheet. Mads Peder Nordbo is the author of three novels. THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN is his debut as a crime writer.

Find Rebecca on:  website  |  goodreads  |  instagram  | facebook  | twitter

Review: Redemption Point by Candice Fox

Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

#1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox delivers a compulsive new crime thriller, which sees Ted Conkaffey once again teaming up with an unlikely partner – this time the father of the girl he was accused of abducting . . .

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out  and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation – complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to ‘assist’ on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts – and a keen eye for killers.

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards – but it may well cost them their lives . . .

‘Definitely a writer to watch’ Harlan Coben

‘A bright new star of crime fiction’ James Patterson

My Blurb (5 stars)

Wishes do come true! Well… sort of! I wanted more of Ted & Amanda and I also wanted to hear a bit of from Amanda (my wish was in my review for the first book, Crimson Lake, so if you’re reading this, Candice, my thanks x). Redemption Point gave me both though Amanda Pharrell is still just as excruciatingly elusive. Excruciating in the sense that I just couldn’t see how she thinks but she’s just as entertaining and frustrating as ever!

How do you solve a problem like Amanda?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Amanda?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

In this book, Ted and Amanda spent quite a lot of time on their own so it made sense to have multiple perspectives even though that mean we barely see them interact however there were a couple other perspectives and one of which gave me the willies. It was in the form of diary entries and was, therefore, very intimate and confessional. I was very uncomfortable with this, at the beginning, due to the character’s thoughts but halfway through I could just appreciate the additional thrills and suspense this perspective add to the book.

Ted, despite his best effort to bury himself, was forced to face up to the Claire Bingley’s abduction that he was wrongly accused for. He had resisted looking into the matter but he could no longer shy away. A confrontation with Claire’s father, Dale, combined with Ted’s own generous heart may just come to end the matter once for all… but for whom?

Amanda mostly had to investigate the murders at Barking Frog Inn (don’t you just love this name?!) without Ted though that did not mean she didn’t have any assistance. In the form of Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney who carried her own dark shameful secret. Ted may be missing in action but Amanda & Pip were just as on point. And that ending! Gah! *gagging myself from spoiling everything!*

Aside from amazing characters, I love the vivid descriptions in this novel. It’s one thing to have a vivid imagination but to be able to write them down without boring your reader, that’s skill. I feel and ‘see’ the humid lush isolated Queensland town. I love to live there in my imagination but not IRL lol

Between the houses on the other side of the creek lay thick tangles of rainforest, impenetrable by the eye, walls of crossing vines and elephant ear leaves wet and dripping…

Redemption Point is an amazingly crafted crime thriller. Tension was taut right from the very beginning and it just gets tighter; so strung up that by ending you don’t know whether to cry from heartbreak or relief. These poor characters get no break whatsoever especially Ted. And can I get back to that ending?! Just spectacular… I need book 3 (I’m hoping there is one…).

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. Her third novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the 2016 Ned Kelly and Davitt awards. She is also the author of the bestselling Crimson Lake, which introduces a new series character, Ted Conkaffey.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the US and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Its sequel, Fifty Fifty, was released in August 2017 and she is currently working on their third collaboration. They have also co-written a prequel novella, Black & Blue, as part of the James Patterson BookShots series.

Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

Find Candice on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: Crimson Lake

crimson-lakeCrimson Lake by Candice Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was soooo excited to see Candice Fox was to release a new book. I must admit to being a teeny weeny disappointed to find out that it is NOT an Archer & Bennett but still… It’s a must-read. If you love crime novels, Candice Fox’s books are must-reads!

Despite being told that this is her best book yet, I can NOT make this distinction. I love ALL her books fairly equally and they are ALL my favourites. The mysteries are terrific but the characters and what she made them go through are just mind-boggling. They are fragile. They are broken. They are survivors.

The main difference in Crimson Lake to the Archer & Bennett books to my mind is that it’s cracking hilarious. Wait a minute, Amanda Pharrell is horrendously hilarious. I can see some people might find her annoying and if she’s someone I know IRL, I’d probably want to kill her myself but seriously the stuff she said were Lough Out Loud Funny. Err, yes, I’m most probably that crazy lady on the train… Here’s one of the things she said that cracked me up to no end & I kept going back to it:

“… I’m dead fascinated with your case. I’m so fascinated, someone should pin me in their hair and wear me to the races.”

We don’t know very much how Amanda’s mind works as the novel is told from Ted Conkaffey’s perspective but one thing we do know is that she’s full on contradictions. She’d slunk away for certain confrontations and yet,

“…doesn’t anything scare you anymore?”
“Not really,” she said brightly…

Ted Conkaffey is hiding. He’s tired and he’s sad. He has had no choice but to accept what fate has dealt him to date. The geese found him. Amanda baffled him. Her cases interest his mind and his brain geared up to put these puzzles together. Maybe there is something else he could do even now… Despite being told from Ted’s perspective; Amanda completely took over the whole book. Maybe we’ll have her perspective in the next book?

Aside from these amazing characterisation, I also love Fox’s prose; the way she draws you to the characters then the setting and then weaves tangled weave of mysterious circumstances which leave you guessing ‘til the end. Crimson Lake, with its tightly developed plot, unique characters and a snapping end, is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Blog Tour: A Time to Run ~a Review

A Time to Run

A Time to Run by J.M. Peace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

A thrilling debut by J.M. Peace, A Time to Run tells of what happens when a police officer turns victim.  As a serving police officer, Peace would have many experiences in policing and the challenge was to put all this in a book that engages the reader.  And… it was so furiously engaging, I finished it in a day (a long time ago, I could’ve said, ‘in one sitting’, but with a job & 2 little ones… “a day” basically means “1 sitting”).

Samantha (Sammi) Willis is a dedicated police officer.  You would expect that as such, she would be very aware of just how easily one becomes a victim.  You would have thought her to be extra vigilant.  This was the first part I struggled with in this novel.  However, considering the circumstances (the drinks, the late hour, the weariness, the possible threat of something worse), I guess, sometimes, you’d let slip and ‘trust’ a stranger.  Unfortunately, this time, it doesn’t turn out so good for Sammi.

An extract relating to the above paragraph can be found on J.M. Peaces’s blog, here

 A Time to Run spans over one weekend.  I compare it to 24 (tv series) but 72 instead.  There’s a ‘snapshot’ of the day/time (bold headers) before each unfolding event.  Each was short and sweet with alternating perspectives between Sammi, the bad guy, and the ones looking for them.  This structure sets the pace and tone of the story -it was fast, tight, and exhilarating.  There were a couple of instances that I thought she was fact-dropping about policing but that’s basically 2 sentences in 228 pages -they were kind of woven into the story but still stood out to me so that could’ve been done differently.

I found A Time to Run to be very realistic.  I like that the ending isn’t all rosy, that such a horrific event will affect a person’s functions terribly and that the law isn’t perfect.  I think the author has been very successful in being very convincing through multiple perspectives despite their varied backgrounds and very different intents.  Overall, a terrific debut that will leave you wanting  more.  Thankfully, Peace is working on a sequel…or two!

Thanks to Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

JM Peace (c) Sheree Tomlinson WEBAbout Author

An avid reader and writer from an early age, JM Peace wanted to be a writer. So she studied journalism figuring this would be a way of turning a passion into a job. Her career as a print journalist failed after a single year, and the experience completely sucked the joy out of writing for her. So she took a complete change of direction and became a police officer. Over the past 15 years, she has served throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities, including Intelligence and CIB.

After her children were born, the dangers and stresses of the job made it unappealing. In the search for a new career path, she returned to her childhood dream. Carving a spare hour out of every day, she wrote the manuscript for A Time To Run whilst juggling her family commitments, police work and running a household. A Time To Run was elevated out of the slush pile after it was accepted on to the 2013 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. It was subsequently accepted by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Jay currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with her partner, wrangling her two cheeky children, a badly behaved dog and an anti-social cockatiel. Although she travelled extensively when she was younger, these days she is just happy if she makes it as far as the beach on the weekend. Her current goals are trying to teach her children to surf and finishing the sequel to A Time To Run.

Jay is astounded and delighted in equal parts by words of encouragement from strangers. You can connect with her at on Facebook at JM Peace Author, Twitter at @jmpeaceauthor and Goodreads at JM Peace.

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Review: Drive By

drive byDrive By by Michael Duffy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected Proof won on publisher’s FB comp

A crime novel set in my own backyard was what I thought drew me to this novel. Ever since reading the Detective Jill Jackson series by Leah Giarratano, I’ve been somewhat nervous each time I had to go to a certain train station ~a certain fictional event is haunting me. Drive By, though set in Western Sydney, wasn’t quite in my hood and for that, I think I’m grateful.

Despite the comparison to Peter Temple’s works in the blurb, which I have read and loved, I approached this work somewhat hesitantly. The cover has a look of non-fiction and I must say, not quite attractive to fiction lovers like myself. However, when you take in consideration the author’s background as a journalist, the cover totally makes sense.

Drive By is told from 3 alternative perspectives –each as different as s/he could be. Bec, Rebecca Ralston, is a young Constable ensnared in a circumstance and left to fend for herself with nary a person to turn to who hasn’t got their own agendas. She, interestingly, is 1/8 Indigenous and protected herself with big words. Jabber ‘John’ Habib, Honest John, was told by his family that he must stand on the other side of the line in the sand –to be a law-abiding citizen. His love for his family drives him to do all he can to keep them safe yet it also blinds him. The prosecutor, Karen Mabbey, hasn’t been able to care about her work; not since her life feels like it’s spiralling out of her control.

The beginning feels quite slow to me though what fascinated me were the characters. I had to roll my eyes / snort each time Bec’s wordy speech, was driven to frustration by John’s slow uptake or may be even selective blindness, and felt nothing but sympathy for Karen. At about 2/3 of the way, however, I was jolted by a twist and then again and again… It was turn after turn in a complex layer of duplicity with a mind blowing conclusion. I must confess though after this whirlwind of the plot, where each of the characters end up didn’t really surprise me though I wish for something somewhat different (what can I say, I’m an optimist :p).

The reference to Peter Temple’s works though is not due to the writing style as it is quite different but in reference to the bold un-crossable line between the crims and law-enforcers. And this was quite evident in the novel. <Drive By is hands-down the best crime novel I’ve read so far this year and one I would highly recommend to all crime readers.

Thanks, Allen & Unwin, for the giveaway

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Review: The Deliverance of Evil

deliveranceThe Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia via The Reading Room

The curious thing, when you’re reading a translated work, is that you’re always wondering about the original work and how close the translated version is to the original language. Whether there are nuances missed or certain implication that’s inadvertently lost on you due to language / culture differences. Nevertheless, translating literature piece is not easy and my compliments to all translators out there who do not just translate the words but also succeed in bringing forward the atmosphere, the nuances, and the effect intended by the authors. This is coming from someone who is fluent in 2 languages.

Reading a crime / mystery novel, you’d always try to pick up all the clues and guess whodunit before it’s revealed. I tried it with this book as well and whilst I did get it near the ending, I kept questioning whether something’s amiss due to it being translated from another language; especially in regards to one particular clue which I cannot disclose. Setting this aside, however, I managed to enjoy the beauty of Italy and of life there.

“You’re a likeable idiot, Michele, but a dangerous one. Paola advised me to steer clear of you.”

Michele Balistreri, to begin with, was an aimless, self-centred, womaniser –basically, an idiot. He’s hiding from his past and yet, unable to move on. He was living for himself and for pleasure, nothing else truly matter until his attitude in solving a murder brought some inexcusable consequences. Fast forward 24 years into the future, this unsolved murder came back to haunt him but this time, he is an older man somewhat broken with damages wrought by time and lifetime of pleasure. This time, though, he is determined not to let evil stand.

I downed a bottle of whisky and found myself reflecting drunkenly on the fact that this wasn’t the usual childhood melodrama that the infant Mike had fed himself on. I was no longer the ‘Michelino’ who watched Westerns, the fearless cowboy who killed all the bad guys. I was a man of thirty-two who didn’t give a shit about anyone, not even himself. I knew the reason well enough – they were all very clear.

And now what the fuck was I looking for? Did I want to absolve myself? Did I want to avoid eternal remorse by finding evil? And what evil?

It changed little; fate was not in agreement with me anyway.

To begin with, the mystery sounds quite simple: a beautiful woman went missing and years later, more have gone missing. Things are never quite what they seem, however, as the nature of each characters are revealed, piece by piece. The crimes, the deceptions, the corruptions are woven in a complex layer and brought into a well fitted jigsaw puzzles. The Deliverance of Evil is a sterling piece of crime novel featuring a world where corruption reigns and evil abounds; where a broken man haunted by his past seeks to put things to right and yet he is only a man. Despite the dark world of crime and corruption, there was also innocence to be found and beauty and… love. I would highly recommend this book to mystery lovers.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia via The Reading Room for copy of book

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Review: The Broken Shore

The Broken Shore
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: My local library (you could get a copy from The Book Depository)

Going back to my high school years, I remember loving an Aussie cop show called Blue Heelers. This drama series is set in a small town where everybody knows everybody. This is the setting this book reminds me of, a small town where you’d know everybody and certain wheels of ‘politics’ which kept the town running ‘peacefully’. The story is being told, however, from the perspective of Detective Joe Cashin, a city detective seconded to this little town, where he grew up, to ‘recover’.

I found it a little hard to get into it at first because of 2 things. I was a little disoriented as I’ve just finished reading Stormdancer (Japanese steampunk) so the difference in setting threw me off a bit but I just had to get my head screwed on right. The second thing was that it felt I was picking up a book in the middle of a series which it is not. There were names bandied about as if the reader would know who they are or what, in context, they imply. This may refer to the fact that in this small town, you would either know the person mentioned or someone in their family or be related to them one way or another.

Another thing that kinda threw me off is the Aussie lingo. Yes, I know I’m Aussie but unfortunately, it’s not often that I read Aussie books. Or maybe, it’s just the humour that is so close to what my friends & I would joke around with, as I found myself smirking snorting and chucking over bits throughout the book.

He pissed from the verandah, onto the weeds. It didn’t bother them.

I really didn’t know whether to laugh or to be disgusted! I guess if you live in Whoop Whoop, you can do whatever you bloody want to.

‘Not a fucking joking matter this.’

– as opposed to the grammatically correct, ‘This is not a fucking joking matter.’ Yes, we do speak this way a lot of the time – disjointed much?

Irreverent humour which at times is borderline coarse combined with the disjointed Aussie speech are what made the book felt like home for me. Let’s not forget that The Broken Shore is a crime fiction which explores something truly dark (crimes from which each one of us will flinched from) but it also made overtures of what it means to live.

…The neighbour was here. Left something for you. Wrapped like a present.’
‘I need a present,’ said Cashin. ‘Long time since anyone gave me a present.’
‘Being alive’s a present,’ said Rebb. ‘Every minute of every hour of every day.’

Whilst the mystery was well woven, there were other things which were called into question. Things that were happening in our society which we let passed, things not quite fitting into procedures being let slide, things where you’re told to let go… I’m left to reflect whether I do too let little things bypass me even when they don’t seem to be quite right, is it the right thing to do?

If you like your crime / mystery fiction with lots of drama, I would recommend this book to you.

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