I finished Lenny Marks Gets Away With Murder. An enjoyable read, which does have marked parallels with Eleanor Oliphant, in that both suffered childhood trauma.

The author, Kerryn Mayne, wrote it during Covid as a consequence of her book club meetings. She’s a serving police officer in Melbournr, but there’s minimal police interaction.

Now onto Echo Lake by Joan Sauers, about a middle-aged woman who’s tree-changed from Sydney to the Southern Highlands of NSW, and gets involved with old murders. So far, looks intriguing.

I’ve just read Silverview by John le Carré. It was published posthumously, but according to an afterword by his son was probably written some time ago. It was better than some of his late ones, but a very long way from his best. “Light” is the word I would use.

I was looking at the new Readings bookshop in Hawthorn and saw it there and bought it on the spur of the moment. I’ve made better purchases and worse ones too.

I once got accused of stealing a book there because I walked in for a browse with a paperback in my back pocket while out on a walk. The book was a touch tatty and couldn’t have been mistaken for a new book.

I know it was 30+ years ago and I should let it go, but that’s not my nature. Grudges are for holding, and I have some that are older.

Finished Echo Lake. Ripping read. The author is quite a prominent screenwriter - Rake, Wakefield, The Babadook and now working on a series of Ladies In Black. I did pick the killer, simply by working out the only one not properly exonerated.

Now onto The House of Now and Then by Jo Dixon. Set in Tasmania.

Finished that a couple of weeks ago. It’s pretty good, as an ex Tassie girl I loved that the references were pretty accurate, with the obligatory Drunken Admiral scene thrown in for good measure.

It’s an absorbing read. I pretty guessed that this was the only possible resolution though. What a trollop that Leena was.

Lol indeed!

I’m almost finished ‘The Other Side of Her’ by BM Carroll, it’s one of the best Aussie books I’ve read for a while. Centres around the disappearance/death of an Irish au pair working for a family just out of Newcastle. Lots of tangled lines and imperfect characters. Really good read.

That one’s sitting on the table.

Just clearing out some quick Kindle books.

Edit…15 June.
Finished The Other Side of Her last night. Mia made me uncomfortable…so driven. Spent 20 chapters wondering what Beth had to do with the price of fish, but everything fell into place.

Won’t say I enjoyed it, because of Mia, but an excellent read.

Picked up the new Margaret Hickey…Broken Bay… at Target today. Sequel to Cutter’s End and Stone Town, which were both very readable, set in SA. So that’ll be next.

Edit… finished Broken Bay this morning. Up to Margaret Hickey’s usual standard and I learnt something about the Limestone Coast of SE South Australia, near the Victorian border, and about cave diving. One for @OBITV. Almost a local yarn.

An experienced diver dives in a recently found sinkhole (or cenote) and discovers the 20-year-old corpse of another diver, gets tangled in the lines, and drowns herself. Mark Ariti, main protagonist of Hickey’s earlier novels, is there on the spot to solve the crime. Small town troubles and enmities.

I’d read a book by James Grippando a while back where a lot of diving takes place in the Florida Aquifer in the north of the state. The sights are apparently spectacular but woe betide you if you stir up silt. I recall a diver dying in Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake a while back because they stirred up silt. The diver panics, and dies.

I wouldn’t even think about because I can get very claustrophobic and those narrow tunnels through caves are scary, as Mark Ariti discovers.

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Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Noonan.

I’ve just ordered the Margaret Hickey from (fittingly) Big W in Mount Gambier and also pre-ordered Mark Brandi’s new one ‘Southern Aurora’ which is due out later this month.

Onto Wild Dogs by Michael Trant.

Gabe is a dog trapper operating illegally on aboriginal land on far northern WA, when he happens across a couple of human traffickers preparing to execute a couple of Afghans who’ve upset them.

Edit… not far north…more around Carnarvon, which I think is more mid coast.

More edits…finished last night. Rattling good yarn, but it’s classic Outback Noir. Could easily be a Western.
There’s a sequel too…No Traces.

Onto The Fall Between by Darcy Tindale. Set in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Margaret Hickey is an excellent author and this is another ripper of a book.

Broken Bay, ‘close to the Victorian border’, is clearly Port MacDonnell which is on the coast 28km south of Mount Gambier (called Franklin in the book).

Portland is mentioned, as are a couple of local attractions in Discovery Bay and the petrified forest (adjacent to the blowholes out past Cape Bridgewater).


I saw something on the PF Community page on FB. She may well have launched the book here. She was down here last winter, talking about Stone Town. As were Vicky Petraitis and Emma Viskic…not about Stone Town, but their own oeuvres.

Edit…went and listened to Margaret Hickey this evening. She’s very pleasant and presentable. Still teaching Year 12 English at a high school while living at Beechworth. Talked a lot about her research into cave diving and lots of coroners’ reports on associated fatalities, including the Shaft in Mount Gambier where 4 died in 1973.

Most of the way through her next book, which won’t feature Mark Ariti. The protagonist will be a youngish policewoman.

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I started The Running Club by Ali Lowe - her book following The Trivia Night.

It features one of my pet hates - each chapter is from the viewpoint of one of the four protagonist women up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I was struggling to follow which of the four was writing and didn’t really care anyway as they were the vacuous sort of women who live on the Northern Beaches. Anyway, got about a third of the way through, and moved onto the next book.

No Trace by Michael Trant, a follow up to Wild Dogs. Another ripping yarn of the western action type. Gabe is now working as a general dogsbody at a farmstay type of station over in WA when he’s informed that one of the criminals from Wild Dogs is being released from jail…and stuff starts happening at his station, all while expecting a major storm event. What you’d call a ripping yarn.

Now onto Naked Ambition by Robert Gott, a Victorian writer who’s written two crime series, one starting with the wartime Murder series starting with The Holiday Murders. This one isn’t a crime novel but looks pretty good. Gregory is a state politician, obviously ALP, happily married to Phoebe, who’s grown up in total opposition to her mother, a creationist who believes in the literal Bible. Anyhow, Gregory has decided to have his portrait painted au naturel by an up-and-coming painter who wants to enter it in the Archibald. All his family, and the premier, are completely opposed to this idea. Very humorous so far,about 30% of the way through.

Mark Brandi’s ‘Southern Aurora’ is set in 1986 in small town Australia, as seen through the eyes of ten/eleven year old Jimmy, who is part of an impoverished and fractured family.

The book is beautifully written and evocative of both the era and the day to day life of its protagonist, his family and his contemporaries.

While nothing of an overly dramatic or thrilling nature occurs, is an engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable read which I completed in one sitting and which I recommend highly.

I’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy since the discussion about him following his death. Listened on Audible as usual. Overall I would say pretty damn good. There was a lot of mystical stuff in them, particularly the last one, which I found it hard to follow to the point where I really have little or no idea what he was trying to say; and there are substantial passages of dialogue in untranslated Spanish, which I do not speak; but the plots were very strong and engrossing. I have Blood Meridian to come, but right now I’m listening to Julian Jackson’s book on the trial of Marshall Pétain that I’m well into and is not anywhere near as good as his biography of De Gaulle.


Bought it Thursday, with three others of Australian crime fiction. Will report on them in due course.

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Finished Naked Ambition. Fun read but not too deep.

Now reading Rural Dreams, a series of very short stories by Margaret Hickey.

The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins

Fantasy set on modern day earth featuring old gods.
It’s very good. Extremely memorable characters.
I bought the book simply because I saw the following chapter title posted on the interwebs and thought, that sounds like my kind of book.

Darkly humorous in places, and also…and I can’t stress this enough…very brutal.

I’ve just read 5 or 6 Kindle purchases, leaving out that Luddite paper stuff for a while. The pile of unread books on my table is growing though.

2 of them were Sally Rigby novels starring ex-cop Sebastian Clifford and his offsider Lucinda Bird.

1 was the latest Nick Dixon novel by Damian Boyd, set over near Bristol. He’s having second thoughts about his police career after being charged with murder by Internal Affairs.

And the latest was Blood, Sweat and Fears, the 9th Kevin Coupland novel by Emma Salisbury, usually set in Salford. He’s been seconded to a task force hunting down sex traffickers and paedophiles (nonces). This series is gritty AF. Coupland is your old-time cop.

Just finished two books set in rural Australia.

Bloodwood Creek by Kerry McGinnis.
Emily is a vet based in New England, up in Darwin searching for her missing cousin, Aspen. Aspen’s mother asked Emily to find her on her deathbed. She starts getting into bother, with two attempts on her life, until her separated husband joins her in the search. Emily had left him because she couldn’t cop the Sydney life of high finance wankers, but he’s moved to Armidale as an accountant and seemingly changed his ways. Lots of searching through the Top End, and more attempts to kill her, until it all resolves. Nowhere near hard-boiled, but this lady writes a good yarn in the inland. She’s written quite a few, but at $14.95 a pop on Kindle, I’ll have to have a squiz at secondhand book stores.

The second one is Southern Aurora, the fourth book by Mark Brandi. I wasn’t all that rapt in his debut, Wimmera, just because the theme was being done to death at the time. This one’s not a crime novel at all, rather a story about a family from the wrong side of the tracks, that track being the Sydney-Melbourne train line where the Southern Aurora steams through daily. Jimmy lives with his mother and intellectually disabled brother, Sam. Mum’s partial to the odd cask of Kaiser Stuhl, a prime Australian wine of the 60s-80s, and her irregular boyfriend, Charlie, is a little loose with his fists. It’s a nice story.

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And just now finished Lowbridge, a debut novel by Lucy Campbell, and what a ripper it is.

In the summer of 1987, 17yo schoolgirl, Tess Dawes leaves the local shopping centre and is never seen again. In 2018, the grieving Katherine Ashworth, depressed after the hit-run death of her 16yo daughter, returns to her husband’s home town, Lowbridge, outside Sydney. She’s drinking, taking sleeping pills etc etc, and her husband wants her to get out and about. She ends up at the local historical society and finds out about Tess’s disappearance, mainly because her husband, Jamie, wants her to steer clear.

Successive chapters cover 1986-87 and 2018, and the trio of schoolgirls are concerned with the usual teenage issues, particularly since one of the girls has her parents trying to open a women’s centre and the usual anti-abortion ratbags are protesting.

Very difficult to put down…women of a certain age will love it. Just about the best book I’ve read this year.

Edit…because i can’t post 3 in a row.

Just finished two more…

Death Comes to Marlow, by Robert Thorogood, creator of Death in Paradise. Very English, very twee, no way to work out the killer for yourself. Don’t rate.

Mole Creek by James Dunbar. Xander McAuslan is a Sydney journalist told that his beloved grandfather, Pete, has committed suicide in Tasmania. Xander smells a rat and is harassed by a Russian hitman. Turns out that Pete was in Vietnam in 1970 as an MP and he had some interesting contacts. Pretty good yarn. 180 degrees different in style from the Marlow book.