April on AustCrimeFiction

You knew this would be late didn't you? 

Read / To be Reviewed:

The Death Ray Debacle, David McGill

In June 1935 Takapuna inventor Victor Penny was attacked by foreign agents seeking what the newspapers dubbed a ‘death ray’. The government secretly shifted him to Somes Island in Wellington harbour to develop the weapon. The novel of this true story is told by Temporary Acting Detective Dan Delaney, seconded to Special Branch, forerunner of the Security Intelligence Service.

Prohibited Zone, Alastair Sarre

Steve West, mining engineer and ex-footy star, just wants a dirty weekend in town, but he can't stop people telling him their secrets. When crusading Kara incites a breakout in the desert, Westie finds himself her reluctant accomplice. Soon he's got a runaway asylum seeker in tow, and all the world, it seems, on his tail. There is a way out - but it's in the prohibited zone.

The Legend of Winstone Blackhat, Tanya Moir

In Winstone’s imagination, the Kid and his partner ride through the Wild West on the trail of their quarry. In Winstone’s actual life, he’s had to abandon his ‘partner’ and is hiding out in the tough landscape of Central Otago. What has this boy run from, and how will the resilient and engaging twelve-year-old survive?

Starlight Peninsula, Charlotte Grimshaw

Eloise Hay lives on the Starlight Peninsula. Every weekday she travels into the city to work at Q TV Studio, assisting with the production of a current affairs show. One night she receives a phone call that will change her life forever. Thrown into the turmoil of a sudden marriage break-up, Eloise begins to perceive that a layer of the world has been hidden from her. Seeking answers, she revisits a traumatic episode from her past, and in doing so encounters an odd-eyed policewoman, a charismatic obstetrician, a German psychotherapist, and a flamboyant internet pirate wanted by the United States Government. Each of these characters will reveal something about the life of Eloise Hay, answering questions that she hasn't, until now, had the courage to ask.

Boom and Bust, Angus Gillies

Boom and Bust is a violent hard-boiled crime novel about a man forced into acts of desperation and depravity by debt. He is over-committed in the property market and is changing careers to have a crack as a real estate agent just as the Global Financial Crisis is about to hit. His timing couldn't be worse and the bodies are piling up around him as he tries to shoot his way out of trouble. 

The Murder Trail, Leonie Mateer

Audrey is a psychopath and a serial killer residing in a coastal town in the rural far north of New Zealand. Audrey discovers a drug cartel is using her Tiromoana Cabin Resort for cocaine trafficking. She appears to be helping the police when the drugs go missing and bodies start turning up, but is she? 

Hunted, Jasper Wolf

Melbourne is a city living in fear. A sadistic killer is on the loose. Policewomen are being targeted and the count stands at seven. Detective Jake Miller and Criminal Psychologist Brodie Foxx head the task force. As they race to find the killer, the body count continues to rise, leading them deep into a world of pure evil. Will they succeed where all others have failed? Or will the hunters become the hunted? Will they pay the ultimate price? 

The Blood on My Hands, Shannon O'Leary

Set in 1960s and '70s Australia, "The Blood on My Hands" is the dramatic tale of Shannon O'Leary's childhood years. O'Leary grew up under the shadow of horrific domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, and serial murder. Her story is one of courageous resilience in the face of unimaginable horrors. The responses of those whom O'Leary and her immediate family reach out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. Relatives are afraid to bring disgrace to the family's good name, nuns condemn the child's objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevent the police from interfering unless someone is killed.

The Falling Detective, Christoffer Carlsson

Leo Junker is back in the snake pit — aka the homicide unit — after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty. Then a sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat. But who?

The Ghost Line, Adam Christopher

Summons to a bullet-riddled body in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment marks the start of a new case for consulting detectives Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. The victim is a subway train driver with a hidden stash of money and a strange Colombian connection, but why would someone kill him and leave a fortune behind? The search for the truth will lead the sleuths deep into the hidden underground tunnels beneath New York City, where answers—and more bodies—may well await them...  

A Straits Settlement, Brian Stoddart

In the third instalment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged. Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labor recruitment and antiquities theft... But as bureaucratic politics make his position vulnerable, his superiors send the intrepid policeman across the Bay of Bengal to pursue the cases in the Straits Settlements. Le Fanu immediately becomes embroiled in the activities of secret societies and the British colonial intelligence services.

Blood, Wine & Chocolate, Julie Thomas

A blackly comic murder mystery involving very expensive wine and an overdose of chilli chocolate. Two little boys start out as friends but their lives take two different paths. One becomes all he wants to be and is 'saved' by marrying a woman with the strength to keep him on the right side of the law and he has something to live for. The other is a boy who is given no choice about his life and the person he will become and the things he will do. When they meet again the contrast is stark. Like the 'Cain and Abel' story, but more violent.

Cold Hard Murder, Trish McCormack

The darkness felt tangible. Like it was pressing against my blind eyes … We were going to die here. Slowly, slowly. Two people struggle on a ledge high above the surge pool at Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks. One falls to their death, beginning a sequence of violence as Department of Conservation ranger Matt Grey announces plans for a commercial tourism venture bitterly opposed by the local community. More people die, and it seems their murders are motivated by something more personal than a threat to the integrity of the national park. But the trail is as cold and twisted as some of the park’s most labyrinthine caves. Philippa Barnes is asked to do some unofficial sleuthing, which is not welcomed by the police. She delves into the lives of some strong-willed individuals, many of whom have secrets, uncovering a dark story that resonates with events in her own life. But caught in a desperate struggle deep underground, has she run out of time to stop a determined killer?

The Swap, Greg Moriarty

Dom Tolen craves a simple life. He keeps his head down at work, jogs off his midweek beers and busies himself with jigsaw puzzles. What riles him is his irksome twin, Donald. Separated from his wife and making his presence felt holed up in Dom’s spare room, Donald turns to pestering him to play a practical joke. Caught off guard, Dom agrees. The episode, with its disastrous results, changes his carefully constructed life forever.

Read / Reviewed:

The Jaded Kiwi, Nick Spill

The summer of 1976 in Auckland, New Zealand. There is a severe marijuana drought. Two couples; a gynecologist and a physicist, together with a violinist and an actress meet by accident in a pub and help a Maori evade the police. A group of Maori plans to deliver a truckload of cannabis to Auckland. A Chinese family has harvested four greenhouses of enhanced sensimilla. A criminal mastermind plots to start a drug war. A police Inspector hunts a fugitive Maori. The war on drugs starts in New Zealand.

Ranger, Chris Allen

How far will Alex Morgan go to repay the man who saved his life? Friends are a luxury that agents of INTERPOL's blacks ops division cannot afford, but Alex Morgan wasn't always a spy. When a former US Army Ranger who saved Morgan's life in Afghanistan reaches out, convinced that Morgan is the only person who can help him, Morgan springs into action.

Reviewed:

Comfort Zone, Lindsay Tanner

Jack Van Duyn is stuck in his comfort zone. A pot-bellied, round-shouldered cabbie in his mid-fifties, Jack lives alone, has few friends, and gets very little out of life. He has a negative opinion of most other people — especially refugees, bankers, politicians, and welfare bludgers. Jack doesn’t know it, but his life is about to be turned upside down. A minor altercation in a kids’ playground at an inner-city high-rise estate catapults Jack into a whirlpool of drug-dealing, ASIO intrigue, international piracy, and criminal violence. And he can’t escape, because he doesn’t want to: he’s fallen in love with the beautiful Somali single mum who’s at the centre of it all.

Ghost Girls, Cath Ferla

Winter in Sydney. The city is brimming with foreign students. Sophie Sandilands takes a job teaching at an English language school. When one of her students leaps to her death it becomes clear that lurking within the psyche of this community is a deep sense of despair and alienation. When it is revealed that the dead woman on the pavement has stolen another's identity, Sophie is drawn into the mystery. 

Taken at Night, Christa A Ludlow

The year is 1900, and photographer Beatrix Spencer has just opened her photographic studio in the bustling colonial metropolis of Sydney. But it is a turbulent time to start a new business. A deadly outbreak of bubonic plague is threatening the city, causing public panic, putting ships into quarantine and causing unrest on the wharves. The colony is preparing to send soldiers to the Boer War. Women are struggling to gain rights and recognition.

The Blackmail Blend, Livia Day

Six romance writers

Five secrets

Four poison pen letters

Three stolen manuscripts

Two undercover journalists

One over-complicated love life

Way too many teacups and tiny sandwiches

Dead Joker, Anne Holt

Chief Prosecutor Sigurd Halvorsrud's wife is found dead in front of the fireplace in the family living room. The cause of death is instantly apparent - she has been brutally decapitated. Halvorsrud immediately falls under suspicion. Then a journalist at one of Oslo's largest newspapers is found beheaded. What links these two horrifically violent crimes?

The Chimera Vector, Nathan M. Farrugia

The Fifth Column: the world’s most powerful and secretive organization. They run our militaries. They run our governments. They run our terrorist cells. Recruited as a child, Sophia is a deniable operative for the Fifth Column. Like all operatives, Sophia’s DNA has been altered to augment her senses and her mind is splintered into programmed subsets. On a routine mission in Iran something goes catastrophically wrong. Bugs are beginning to appear in Sophia’s programming and the mission spins out of control.

Unholy Trinity, Peter Hoysted & Denis Ryan

One policeman's desperate and moving account of his decades-long struggle to bring a depraved pedophile priest to justice—only to find himself obstructed by the Catholic Church and betrayed by his own police force.

Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and the Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Lucy Sussex

Before there was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, there was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab—the biggest- and fastest-selling detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia’s first literary blockbuster. Fergus Hume was an aspiring playwright when he moved from Dunedin to Melbourne in 1885. He wrote The Mystery of a Hansom Cab with the humble hope of bringing his name to the attention of theatre managers. The book sold out its first run almost instantly and it became a runaway word-of-mouth phenomenon—but its author sold the copyright for a mere fifty pounds, missing out on a potential fortune.

Robert Goodman's Reviews:

Ten Days, Gillian Slovo

Dangerous to Know, Anne Buist

The Travelers, Chris Pavone

A Dying Breed, Peter Hanington

Andrea Thompson's Reviews:

Who's Afraid, Maria Lewis

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