Having just had the pleasure of reading this one, I can’t help but agree with your take on it.

I enjoyed it from start to finish and would rate it as the third leg of the Holy Trinity of laugh-out-loud absurd satire alongside Steve Toltz’s ‘A Fraction Of The Whole’ and John Kennedy Toole’s ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’.

Next on the list is ‘Lowbridge’ which I bought based on the recommendation of @Alan_Noonan_10 above. It better be good or look out Noonan! :wink:

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Well, it is indeed a fine book. I loved the way the story slowly unfolded and how the mystery was revealed. Thinking I’d identified the villain very early on in the piece, it was refreshing to find out that I was completely wrong in my sleuthing.

The only jarring note was that I often found the dialogue to be wooden and stilted.

Just finished Gabriel Bergmoser’s latest, The Caretaker.

Charlotte is on the run, for what we don’t find out for a while, and hiding out as a caretaker at a tiny ski lodge in the Victorian Alps, but it seems that she’s been discovered and she has to escape…but it’s difficult.

Bergmoser is definitely not at the softer end of crime fiction, but not boring psychological thrillers.

Thanks for recommending Lowbridge. I really enjoyed reading it.

Four Dogs Missing by Rhys Gard, set in the wine-growing town of Mudgee in the Hunter.

Oliver Wingfield is a maverick winemaker specialising in experimental wines. His identical twin brother, Theo, comes to visit him after 15 years, but is murdered on his first night.

It’s a rattling yarn, even though I’m not particularly taken with the ending.

Now onto Even the Darkest Night by Javier Cercas, the first of the Terra Alta series, set in the province of Tarragona in south eastern Catalonia. The novel starts with the hero, Melchor Marín, a detective called to the torture-murder of Gandesa’s richest couple. The original name of the book is Terra Alta (High Country in Catalan) and the name of the region. Not sure why they renamed it.

Finished it just now…7 days later. The story hinges around the Spanish Civil War, which finished so long ago (1939) that few participants survive.

Melchor was sent to Terra Alta to protect him from Islamist cells, after he was the officer who killed 4 terrorists in Cambrils in the south of Catalonia in the aftermath of the 2017 La Rambla terrorist attack where a guy drove a van 800 metres down La Rambla killing 11 (?) people including a 7-yo Australian boy.

There’s a doco series called 800 Metres on Netflix detailing the whole incident. I only remembered the La Rambla bit, but it was planning as a bombing attack, but things went haywire and one guy decided to improvise. The members of the cell then fled to Cambrils where they committed another attack and were killed…not by Melchor of course, but a police officer, possibly belonging to Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force. There’s a bit of an indication as to why the Civil War was so bitter because there were appalling people on both sides. For example, Stalin’s help constituted him sending agents to Spain and murdering Spanish Communists because they weren’t Stalinist. But really, the Church was at the centre of it all…the Republicans wanting its influence destroyed, and Franco’s lot, the Nationalists, wanting it maintained.

It’s a good read, but I’ll get back to the Australian stuff before reading the sequel.

I’ve been immersed in Australian writer Graeme Simsion’s lauded “Rosie” trilogy over the past couple of weeks.

The first of these, “The Rosie Project” was hugely enjoyable, the second “The Rosie Effect” less so (twice as long and half as good according to one acidic review) and the final “The Rosie Result” probably the least impressive of the lot IMO.

As much as I loved the first instalment, the three books were the literary equivalent of the law of diminishing returns.

I agree. Even the first one annoyed me a bit. I find books by authors who don’t have Asperger’s written in the voice of a character who does pretty unconvincing.

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Just finished two books by Australian authors. Both books discomfited me.

First was Still House by Christian White and Summer De Roche on Audible. Dave and Lisa own a rental house in the sticks, and the tenants seem to have skipped out leaving everything behind. It seems to be the story of a haunted house. Sorry…I just don’t like these books.

Second was the analogue version, Barren Grounds, by Michael B Radburn about the chase of a serial killer in Sydney in the 60s. As above, it held interest but I don’t like this style of book.

Just finished Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman. It’s loooooooong … 27 hours … but fascinating and well written.

Set in Melbourne city and Bayside.

Tells one story from seven perspectives, many characters are unlikable but they are all well crafted. It’s a twisty journey through the human psyche.

I liked it a lot.

He’s pretty good, Elliot Perlman. He was a barrister for a short time and I met him then.
He had a biggish success with his first novel, Three Dollars. That was back in 1998, and Seven Types of Ambiguity came out in 2003. I read them both back then and liked them both, although neither of them is actually a happy read. Three Dollars was made into a film with David Wenham and Frances O’Connor and I think I saw it but have only the vaguest of recollections.

Aaahhh yes. I completely forgot he also wrote Maybe The Horse Will Talk which I also really enjoyed.

Started two more today. Outback by Patricia Wolf on Audible…looks like it might be a Wake In Fright clone.

Traced by Catherine Jinks, who’s written a swag of YA novels. One of her earliest attempts at a crime novel. During contact tracing of a couple of years ago, a young woman is contacted because of her close contact having Covid. She’s petrified because her fiancé is totally controlling and he’ll crack the ■■■■■ because she’s been in contact with a cousin that he’s forbidden. One of the tracers recognises the name of the bloke, and realises he’s the guy that she and her daughter have escaped from, changing their names etc, and he’s living nearby in Penrith.

I’m reading this one now (and loving it).

Next up is Joan Sauers’ Echo Lake to be followed by the latest Richard Osman (the fourth in his Thursday Murder Club series) called The Last Devil To Die, due out next week.

The Caretaker: Bergmoser’s best effort yet, an excellent book which is highly recommended. The epilogue took me by surprise. I wonder if there is a sequel in store, just as his first two novels featured the same protagonist. 8/10

Echo Lake: Mixed feelings. While I enjoyed the Southern Highlands setting, warmed to the main characters and enjoyed the plot in the main (like @Alan_Noonan_10 I picked the perpetrator early in the piece), I also had a few misgivings.

Some of the sub-plots were either never resolved (eg. nasty Ray) or seemed irrelevant and served no purpose other than to pad out the story (eg spoiler the ghost in George’s house).

I’ll add a final whack at the author for falling for that appalling cliche that relentlessly pops up in books, TV shows and movies of the police interview where the suspect asks “Do I need a lawyer?” and the copper replies “I don’t know. Do you?”. Gaaaaaah!

In summary, you could do worse. But you could also do much, much better. 6/10

I think maybe Echo Lake put me in a better mood, so I wasn’t looking for shortcomings.

I just finished Traced by Catherine Jinks and found it, like a lot of novels with that, or a couple of other, themes quite disconcerting, so much so that I’ve had to look around the pending literature to get away from that topic. In Traced, Jane is a Covid contact tracer in the Blue Mountains in the early days of the pandemic. She speaks to a close contact, and realises that the person is a victim of severe domestic abuse, and what’s more, she later discovers that the man is the same man she and her daughter are hiding from, having changed their identities. Not an easy read.

So, to cheer myself up, I’m reading the sequel to The Paris Collaborator, with Auguste Duchene who’s able to track down missing children, but since most of those he traced were the children of Nazi sympathisers, he’s considered a collaborator and, in this book, The Berlin Traitor, he’s offered an out by the French and US administrators of post-war Berlin if he finds a traitor who’s working for the Russians. Much more cheery stuff. I had 3 or 4 on Kindle for selection.

I might have to read the epilogue of The Caretaker again.

A friend who knew I enjoyed Richard Osman’s output lent me one called The Tea Ladies by Amanda Hampson, which is set in the rag trade of 1965 Sydney.

It’s an obvious attempt to copy Osman, right down to the cover design, attempts at humour and the cosy nature of the story featuring four older amateur detectives but, alas, it’s a poor imitation.

Not really my cup of tea, ladies. 4/10

The guy who created Death in Paradise, Robert Thorogood, has gone the same path with a trio of codgeresses in Marlow, home of the original Compleat Angler, and where my brother-in-law used to work before arriving in Australia on December 2, 1972, a day famous for another reason.

It was also one of the stops in the Jerome K Jerome classic, Three Men In a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), still one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

But in my experience, it all started with David Baldacci’s Camel Club.

An outstanding series, without doubt. I’d class it as “serious” writing and more in the genuine thriller/mystery genre rather than the cosy/whimsical/amusing style that Osman uses (and Hampson imitates). The new Osman is due out tomorrow.

Just finished Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Took me a couple of chapters to get into it… terrific book. Follows the life of a boy, Demon, from birth to around 20. It is a story about trying to survive living in abject povery in Virginia. It makes you (me) think twice about ever using labels like ‘redneck’ again…

After what I thought was a dip in form in his third of this series, I am pleased to report that The Last Devil To Die is very much a triumphant return for Osman.

It’s as comfortable as a favourite pair of slippers and the story unfolds at its expected gentle pace, although there is perhaps a little less humour than usual and the author veers into an area of sadness and a touch of existentialism.

There are some startling developments and revelations about the main characters and potential new readers of The Thursday Murder Club series would be advised to start with the first book and read them in order.

I’d give this a solid 8/10.

(There will be more books in this series, but the author’s next release will apparently feature two new characters, a father-in-law/daughter-in-law detective duo.)