hades foxTo date the third Australian Women Writers Challenge has garnered 20 reviews in the crime/mystery/thriller category with Candice Fox’s HADES taking the early lead as far as numbers go, generating three reviews so far. Lou Murphy at The Newton Review of Books lets us know early on what kind of crime novel it is

Hades is not the kind of book to snuggle up in bed with at night – it would undoubtedly give you nightmares. This disturbing crime début from Candice Fox is best read armed with a stiff drink and a strong stomach.

You’ve been warned! The book concerns an underworld ‘fixer’ who lives at an outer Sydney rubbish tip where he raised two orphans who have since become police officers. Definitely not your average storyline there.

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18350347Other fiction titles to generate reviews for the start of this year’s challenge include

  • a reminder that Colleen McCullough has published five historical crime novels (so far) though Sam Still Reading’s review of SINS OF THE FLESH suggests that the main character’s long holiday in this instalment had something of a negative impact
  • I reviewed the only novel I’ve ever read set on Thursday Island. Catherine Titasey’s MY ISLAND HOMICIDE has an enveloping setting, a great protagonist and takes a refreshing attitude to local indigenous issues but it does owe at least as much to the romance genre as it does to crime (which may be a good or bad thing depending on your open-mindedness to genre mashups).
  • Deserving-death-howellTeddyree at The Eclectic Reader enjoyed Katherine Howell’s seventh novel DESERVING DEATH even though she picked the culprit prior to the end. She urges you to get yourself a copy (or why not the whole series?) and I have to say I agree with her.
  • Shelleyrae’s review of Kathryn Ledson’s MONKEY BUSINESS over at Book’d Out does make me curious: a book about black market Tupperware!

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rough justiceOver at Devoted Eclectic challenge founder Elizabeth Lhuede included a rare review of a true crime work, Robin Bowles’ ROUGH JUSTICE which discusses eight Australian legal cases in which the accused have professed their innocence.

Bowles looks at the processes behind these cases and reveals grave flaws in the judicial system. Her discussion identifies various points at which an innocent person can be unjustly convicted, including incompetence in how evidence is gathered or interpreted, possible police corruption and coercion of witnesses, bias created in the minds of both witnesses and potential jurors by the media, and flawed judicial proceedings. The problems, she suggests, come from our adversarial system which demands two sides play off against one another; the winner, she implies, is often the side with the deepest pockets.

Lhuede is not convinced though

In her efforts to tell two (or more) sides of the story, Bowles, I feel, manipulates me; it’s as if I’m being drawn to form one opinion, only for the facts subsequently to be presented in an equally convincing, sometimes opposite way.


Bowles weighs down, in my view, on the side of empathy for the defendants, not because she demonstrates their innocence or virtue, but because she shows how these people – guilty or innocent – are equally screwed by the system.

Sounds thought-provoking. As such a subject should be.

If you’re after some ideas of more crime/mystery/thriller or true crime books to read then head over to the genre’s reviews page for this year’s challenge to see what else is being discussed or check out the previous roundups for this review category

About Me

I’m Bernadette Bean. I’ve been reading avidly for as long as I can remember, blogging about reading since late 2008 at Reactions to Reading and co-hosting Fair Dinkum Crime, a site devoted to promoting and discussing Australian crime fiction, for the past couple of years. I read and reviewed 18 books as part of my own participation in the 2012 challenge. Some of them weren’t even crime novels!