This year for Christmas I got much wanted plant milk maker and a dose of Covid....
We had planned on a bit of a break between Christmas 2023 and the New Year, which we got. Not quite as hoped though. Was going to spend what was probably going to be hot weather doing a final yearly review catch up and clearing the decks ready to be more organised in 2024 (HA!) but we got Covid over Christmas which on the upside meant quite a bit of reading got done. On the downside, sod all of anything else. Still coughing up a lung on a regular basis but let's start as we're hoping to go on.
Few new books snuck into the piles during the break:
Dead Sweet by Katrín Júlíusdóttir (treated myself to this one)
The Beacon by P.A. Thomas, set in Byron Bay, out 30th January from Echo Publishing
Madukka the River Serpent by Julie Janson - this one had been on the list to be get for ages but as usual I stuffed up.
Lots and lots of other books got added to the wish list including Punishment by Ferdinand von Schirach, The Tea Ladies by Amanda Hampson, Killing for Country by David Marr and a catchup of Tim Ayliffe's books.
In terms of what I got read over the break:
Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta is our January bookclub read and I think it's going to be a very very good gathering. So much to think about, so many bookmarks in that book, can predict frequent rereadings.
I also noticed that the copy of Paradise by Patricia Wolf was getting up there in the reading pile and to my shame I'd not read the first DS Walker novel - Outback. So I fixed that.
Also sat down and read The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes the minute it arrived. What a rollercoaster that was! More in a review (which I promise will be very soon).
I'd also been dipping in and out of São Paulo Noir and finished that over the break.
The book I'm currently reading is Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath (my partner did enquire whether it was fictional or a manual... we've both got Covid and there is an argument that we've been tetchy).
Meanwhile there's a thunderstorm raging overhead and it's technically the first day back at work - coughing and spluttering and feeling just this side of death warmed up aside.
Time to press on.
Jack Harris, the disgraced son of Australia’s most powerful business tycoon, has just been exiled to Byron Bay as a junior journalist at his father’s smallest regional newspaper, The Beacon. His arrival coincides with the disappearance of the newspaper’s editor, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, while out on his morning surf. When Patrick’s body is discovered in the ocean, with a severed leg, it appears certain that he’s fallen victim to a shark attack.
But when rumours emerge that Patrick was about to publish an explosive article – its subject unknown – Jack begins to suspect his death is not what it seems.
Although police aren’t buying his murder theory, Jack joins forces with Patrick’s daughter and investigates anyway, taking a sometimes less than lawful dive into the newspaperman’s past. Together they discover plenty of Byron locals with a motive to kill, including a bioholistic dentist with a secret, a naturist with an undisguised grudge, and even the mayor of Northern Rivers Shire. But has Jack bitten off more than he can chew?
Aunty June is the proud owner of a TAFE certificate III in Investigative Services. It took her thirty hours to complete online. Now, she has set up her own private investigation service: Yanakirri Investigative Services – Confidentiality Guaranteed.
When environmental activist, Thommo, suddenly goes missing and the police ignore the case Aunty June takes it upon herself to uncover the secrets surrounding her nephew, Thommo’s, disappearance. Corruption, commercial cotton farmers, bikies, racism, water theft, and unreliable local police – Aunty June is really up against it. Lies and corruption are hiding the truth from reaching the surface. And the Darling River, the sacred Barka is running out of water. Aunty June may be out of her depth, but nothing will stop her fighting for her people and her land.
Two missing backpackers. One vast outback.
DS Lucas Walker is on leave in his hometown, Caloodie, looking after his dying grandmother. When two young German backpackers vanish from the area on their way to a ranch, he finds himself unofficially on the case. But why all the interest from the Federal Police, when they have probably just ditched the heat and dust of the outback for the coast?
As the number of days the couple are missing climbs, DS Walker is joined by the girl's sister. A detective herself from Berlin, she is desperate to find her before it's too late.
Walker remains convinced there is more at play. Working in the organised crime unit has opened his eyes to the growing drug trade in Australia's remote interior. Could this be connected?
As temperatures soar, the search intensifies to a thrilling crescendo against the unforgiving backdrop of the scorching Australian summer.
As DS Lucas Walker recovers from his injuries, he heads from Caloodie, Queensland, to the Gold Coast. Surfer's a seaside city where gleaming high rises fringe sparkling surf beaches, sunny days lead to wild nights, and criminals and bikie gangs mingle with tourists and dignitaries at five star hotels, clubs and casinos.
Before long, Walker is part of a team trying to solve a horrific home invasion and murder that has claimed the life of a young mother and left her nine-year-old daughter fighting to survive. Can he help them find the perpetrators, and keep the young girl safe? Meanwhile, Vandals head honcho Stefan Markovich is in town - and Walker once again finds himself on a dangerous collision course with the drug gang.
Weak from his injuries, and grieving, can Walker solve a case that is more shocking than anyone expected, and survive the dark underbelly of Australia's Surfer's Paradise?
If, like Kane, you're a Denied Access Area spy for the CIA, then boundaries have no meaning. Your function is to go in, do whatever is required, and get out again - by whatever means necessary. You know when to run, when to hide - and when to shoot.
But some places don't play by the rules. Some places are too dangerous, even for a man of Kane's experience. The badlands where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet are such a place - a place where violence is the only way to survive.
Kane travels there to exfiltrate a man with vital information for the safety of the West - but instead he meets an adversary who will take the world to the brink of extinction. A frightening, clever, vicious man with blood on his hands and vengeance in his heart...
On the heels of Rio Noir, beloved Brazilian rock star and best-selling novelist Tony Bellotto ushers another world-class city into the Akashic Noir Series.
Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.
Featuring brand-new stories by: Tony Bellotto, Olivia Maia, Marcelino Freire, Beatriz Bracher, Maria S. Carvalhosa, Fernando Bonassi, Marcelo Rubens Paiva, Marçal Aquino, Jô Soares, Mario Prata, Ferréz, Vanessa Barbara, Ilana Casoy, and Drauzio Varella.
From the introduction by Tony Bellotto:
Encyclopedias will say that São Paulo is the main financial, corporative, and commercial center of South America. The census will show that São Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil, the Americas, the Portuguese-speaking world, and the entire Southern Hemisphere. Scholars will inform us that São Paulo is the most multicultural city in Brazil, having received, since 1870, millions of immigrants from every part of the planet, and that it is the city with the largest populations of people of Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and Lebanese/Arab origin outside their respective countries. Experts will assure us that São Paulo has a high crime rate. Sociologists will confirm that the city has an area known as Cracolândia (Crackland) and that among the violent and neglected communities spread along its periphery one bears the ironic name Paraisópolis. Politicians will roar that São Paulo is the engine that drives Brazil . . .
More than historians and sociologists, writers have always been able to transform cities into great characters. This is the way we decipher devouring sphinxes.
Three couples, friends since the university athletics team, travel to a house in the mountains for an unplugged weekend of drinking and bushwalking. No internet, no phones, no stress. On the first night, the topic of partner-swapping comes up. It's a joke - at first.
Not everyone is keen, but an agreement is made. The lights will be turned out. The three men will go into the three bedrooms. The three women will each pick a bedroom at random. It won't be awkward later, because no one will know for sure who they've slept with - though each guest is privately sure that they alone will be able to tell.
But when the lights come back on, someone is missing. A search of the house and the surrounding bushland turns up a body.
Five people remain. They have no way of contacting the police. Nor can they leave - the key to the car is missing. And the killer is just getting started.
Two weeks later, Senior Constable Kiara Lui drives to the house with her girlfriend, Elise. She's already interviewed the survivors. Now, she must work out which of them is lying, and why ...