Book Review: Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

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As I was rushing out the door to the airport on my way to a holiday in Cairns, I grabbed this book from my “To Be Read” pile and I didn’t realise until I was on the plane and turning the first few pages that the story was set in… Cairns!

Crimson Lake is the fictional setting not too far from Cairns where Ted Conkaffey has just moved. There’s humidity (check), crocodiles (check), snakes (check), rednecks (check) and an assortment of colourful characters (check) so it feels somewhat real (at least to an outsider), even though it’s not, which is a credit to Fox.

The main character, Ted, is a former vice police detective from Sydney whose career was cut short when he was accused of abducting and raping a teenage girl. He was never convicted but he lost his wife, his child, his career and all his friends and everywhere he goes, he’s accused of being a monster. So he’s driven to the furthest place he could get and settled into a rented house where nobody knows who he is. Continue reading

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Book Review: A Year Rewritten by Andrew Rogerson

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I’m pausing my year of reviewing Australian female writers to sneak this one in and will return to the promised reviews in August.

*****

I saw Andrew Rogerson at an open mike night where he read two poems (performed them from memory actually) and as soon as I got home, I bought this book (which he had spruiked). It’s a high concept book of poems where he wrote a haiku a day for an entire year. For those who don’t know, a haiku is a Japanese poem composed of three lines with the first line containing five syllables, the second line containing seven syllables and the third line containing another five syllables for a total of seventeen.

Sounds easy, right? Not even seventeen words, just seventeen syllables a day. (If all writers could get away with this kind of workload, they’d probably be a much happier lot.) But, of course, there’s very little about poetry that is easy, writing it or reading it.

A Year Rewritten is a very short book, necessarily because of the concept. It took less than hour to read and it’s a little like a verse novel with one obvious difference: I had no idea what the story was. There were hints of love and loss and illness but the haikus were quite obscure. Poetry like this is often difficult to interpret, so attempting to string it all together in my understanding as a linear story proved impossible. Continue reading

Book Review: In the Quiet by Eliza Henry-Jones

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I feel like the subtext of this book can be summed up by these lyrics: “You love her, but she loves him, and he loves somebody else, you just can’t win. And so it goes, till the day you die. This thing they call love, it’s gonna make you cry.”

Cate and her husband, Bass, seemed to have had what everyone wishes for: shared goals, shared love, a true partnership. Everyone around them, however, is embedded in various stages of unrequited or inappropriate infatuation and relationship struggles. And part of the reason for this is that Cate is dead. I’m not giving anything away. She narrates the whole book and reveals this in the first sentence. Continue reading

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This is one of those books that was always destined to succeed. The publishing company wouldn’t have allowed anything else. Most writers hide themselves, plugging away solitarily, swallowing the loneliness until finally a book is produced. And then a select few people assist in polishing the manuscript before it is finally accepted or rejected. There are over one hundred people listed in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Ergo, this is one of those books that was always destined to succeed. Whether the readers liked it or not. Thankfully, it does have some merits. But maybe not as many as we would have preferred. Continue reading

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

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This book has so many 4- and 5-star ratings on Goodreads that I was convinced there must be some sort of extraordinary twist at the end. There isn’t. It’s a well-written but averagely-plotted book. Anyone who has ever lived in a small Australian town where the landscape is brown more often than it is green will recognise the setting and the small-minded residents who think you can never be a local unless you were born there. But anyone who has ever read a crime novel will also recognise the formula. So I’m perplexed as to why there was so much hype. Continue reading

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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Liane Moriarty is Australia’s ‘it’ author at the moment on the back of a string of terrific books and the success of the Hollywood adaptation of the New York Times bestselling Big Little Lies. And there’s a reason for that. She takes the ordinary and usually manages to make it extraordinary. But despite the readability of Moriarty’s writing, Truly Madly Guilty starts out ordinary and stays that way. Continue reading

Book Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

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The problem with satire these days is that it looks and feels so much like the real world, particularly when it comes to politics, that it’s hard to tell what’s parody and what’s not. Ten years after Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was first published, that is the book’s primary problem.

Dr Alfred Jones is a fisheries scientist who works for the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence in the UK. When he’s approached by the representatives of a Yemeni sheikh who wants to introduce salmon fishing into his hot, dry, dusty, Middle Eastern country, he dismisses the idea of out of hand. After all, salmon require cool, well-oxygenated water, something not found in abundance on the Arabian peninsula. But the sheikh has seemingly endless amounts of money to throw around, so the NCFE figures why not funnel some of it into their coffers in exchange for Alfred’s services and he’s ordered to do everything he can to get the project off the ground (and therefore the money to come rolling in). Continue reading