There have been 49 reviews and one interview posted in the crime, mystery, thriller and true crime category since the last roundup with two books sharing the top spot as far as number of reviews goes, each garnering six posts.

alltheseperfectstrangers-aoifecliffordAoife Clifford’s debut novel ALL THESE PERFECT STRANGERS is told from the perspective of young Pen Sheppard who has left her small country town – and whatever occurred there to make the townsfolk shun her – to attend university only to have several suspicious deaths occur around her within a few months. At The Newton Review of Books Ruth Sykes says

The tension and pacing in All These Perfect Strangers is strong and, at times, subtle. There were moments when I needed to read ‘just one more chapter’ without really understanding why. Perhaps, in part, it was due to Clifford’s prose: Blood, dirt, river, shower, this night, everything disappeared down the drain. I wanted to be washed away. This is Aoife Clifford’s debut novel. It is taut, beautifully written and surprisingly sad. I highly recommend it.

Other reviewers generally agreed with this sentiment, with people particularly enjoying Clifford’s use of an unreliable narrator to keep them constantly guessing. Even Tracey at Carpe Librum, who failed to fall in love with the book like she hoped she might, found it a solid read with some strong elements

The highlights of the novel were the realistic descriptions of university life and the familiar descriptions of life in a small town. There were also some standout characters (although Pen wasn’t one of them) which included her Mother’s boyfriend, Tracey her best friend and fellow Uni student Toby…I think All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford will appeal to YA readers who enjoy reading crime with a dash of mystery.

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runningagainstthetide-ortleppAmanda Ortlepp’s RUNNING AGAINST THE TIDE is the story of Erin Travers who moves to a small country town with her two sons to start life afresh. But soon there are troubling events occurring, including serious thefts and arson, and it seems lots of people have secrets they want to keep hidden.

In her Good Reads review Jennifer Cameron-Smith says

This is one of those wonderfully written, multi-layered novels peopled with interesting and at times complicated characters.

and Deborah at Debbish was also attracted by the characters

Running Against the Tide touches on many important issues such as family violence, relationships, and addiction; all set amidst the Eyre Peninsula and an oyster farming community…Ortlepp does a wonderful job with the characters. We got to know (the kinda-ineffectual) Erin pretty quickly; and I loved the elderly neighbour and oyster farmer Jono as well as Erin’s eldest, Mike. Indeed, it felt like a rarity to read a novel featuring a relatively normal 18-19yr old – living at home, working hard etc.

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thelightonthewater-lorenzoElizabeth Lhuede’s thoughts on Olga Lorenzo’s THE LIGHT ON THE WATER caught my eye as the book has not received much discussion in the usual circles. On this story of a mother, Anne Baxter, who is arrested over the death of her daughter Elizabeth uses lots of strong words in description: riveting, tough, psychologically astute. She writes

Despite the difficulties of her upbringing and her experience of every mother’s worst nightmare, the awful loss of her child, Anne isn’t the most sympathetic of characters. She displays something which…is missing from characters in Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things: the learned helplessness of the victim, the utter mind-stultifying and body-disabling passivity of those who have discovered from a very early age that it’s no use fighting; that the opposition, be it an abusive parent, a judgemental waitress, a drunk outside an airport or a fellow prisoner, is more powerful and will prevail; that survival depends on “copping it sweet”.


There are many more aspects of this book to praise: Lorenzo’s ear for Australian idiom and depiction of class differences; her deft thumbnail sketches of incidental characters that make these people come alive on the page; her use of powerful verbs; her insights into psychology and character; her sometimes sympathetic, sometimes harsh, portrayal of different types of families; as well as her skill in portraying a range of difficult and subtle human emotions:

Don’t know about you but I’ve added this one to my list

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DeadActuallyDelaneyOver at Lost in a Good Book Amy Brownlee went on a bit of a Kaz Delaney binge, reading and reviewing three of her young adult mysteries: ALMOST DEAD, DEAD, ACTUALLY and THE RELUCTANT JILLAROO. I love it when people get sucked in by an author and Amy’s enthusiasm for the books is genuine and infectious. Here’s just a little of what she has to say about DEAD ACTUALLY

There is so much to love about this book: the characters, the mystery, the fabulous writing that sends your heart and mind crazy with anticipation and suspense. I loved everything about this book from start to finish, it’s enthralling, it’s messy and complicated, but that is what makes it exhilarating to read.

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GhostGirlsFerlaA final book I want to highlight this time is Cath Ferla’s GHOST GIRLS which garnered three reviews during the past two months. It’s a story about foreign students in Australia and the alarming things that can happen to them. At The Newton Review of Books Karen Chisholm says

The combination of plot, character and setting in Ghost Girls is perfectly balanced, and the delivery is pitched elegantly to provide insight into the depths of the depravity of the crimes, without making even the most sensitive reader turn away.

I agree with Karen, this one’s a cracker but my advice is not to read it on an empty stomach because all the delicious food it describes will have your mouth watering.

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Don’t forget it’s never too late to sign up yourself to participate in the Australian Women Writers challenge and if this roundup hasn’t provided you with enough inspiration you can always browse the Challenge’s database of reviews.

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About Me

I’m Bernadette Bean. I’ve been reading avidly for as long as I can remember, blathering about the subject since late 2008 at Reactions to Reading, am co-host of Fair Dinkum Crime, a site devoted to promoting and discussing Australian crime fiction, and have twice been a judge for a national crime fiction award.