The Mosquito CoastThe Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed Theroux’s non-fictional travel writing so much, I decided it was time to get acquainted with his best know work of fiction, The Mosquito Coast.
If I had to sum it up in a couple of words, I’d describe it as “Swiss Family Robinson meets The Shining.”
Narrated by Charlie Fox, Theroux weaves an exotic tale about a family living under the dictates of a domineering father who thinks he knows best. Not only for his family, but for the whole world. He’s a bit of prick, really, is Allie Fox. And what happens to him in the end wouldn’t make too many readers shed a tear.
Local characters are depicted with gusto and a great ear for language. Theroux’s use of dialogue and patios, for me, is reminiscent of Mark Twain. His language is at times poetic, and always clever, however at times descriptions dragged a bit. However, on the whole, I found this novel a delight to read.

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Dead CellDead Cell by Chris Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original in concept and taut in execution, “Dead Cell” is a story that I’ll remember for some time. The author builds the scenes beautifully, with enticements at the end of each chapter to pull the reader further into the story. Ripping action, elements of the supernatural and a massive body count are some of the key aspects of “Dead Cell” that would have some producers salivating at the chance to put this one up on the screen.

With a superb cast of larger-than-life characters and page-turning action, I’m keen t0 see what else psychic superhero Craig Ramsey gets up to next. Hopefully he’ll keep on fighting crime with his new flame, the resourceful and doggedly determined Detective Brianna Cogan. As if evil humans weren’t enough to deal with, when there are angry, vengeful dead guys to be dealt with, these two are the ones to keep the streets safe. Almost forgot to mention the third main character – the wonderfully engaging spirit from the past, Emily – who is at once an able assistant and an annoying gooseberry.

By the way, there’s an overt message to be take from Dead Cell. Don’t use your mobile while driving. Geddit? “The authorities had been posting these warnings for so long, nearly twenty years, but no one listened. Even the authorities, the police, did the same.”

Thanks for a hugely entertaining novel, Chris Johnson.

“Never turn your back on the living for the sake of the dead”.

Intoxic (Alison Hayes #1)Intoxic by Angie Gallion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author of Intoxic, Angie Gallion, has created a memorable character who’ll stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page of this remarkable novel. Better make that a cast of characters. From the plucky narrator, 16-year-old Alison Hayes, to her alcoholic mother Alice and mom’s assorted boyfriends, to Alison’s steadfast friend Dylan and his family, all bring something special to this gripping and moving coming-of-age tale.
Gallion wraps her story in beautiful deft prose and delivers it in a delightful narrative voice. You get a real sense of place, with her wonderful descriptions of the landscape. Plus bonus horses! I particularly enjoyed the way she crafts her language to depict the changing of the seasons as Alison’s difficult journey shifts from one challenging incident to the next. There are plenty of exciting and confronting moments, lots of real heart in the mouth stuff. The author writes with insight, compassion and understanding without being preachy.
For a debut novel, this is a winner on all counts.
I highly recommend Intoxic to readers of all ages and I look forward to more from Angie Gallion.

The NeighbourThe Neighbour by Julie Proudfoot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Julie Proudfoot’s novel “The Neighbour” is nothing short of a triumph. In this superbly structured and crafted work of psychological cat and mouse (and dog), she grabs you by the wrist, lifts you over the dividing fence into the neighbour’s yard, round the garden, past the pool, up the side of the house and into the shed.

The incident around which the story revolves is shocking in its suddenness and violent nature. After that, we see the main protagonist, Luke, wrangle with his conscience against the background of a growing intrusion into his thoughts of a horrific event that took place in his childhood. He only wants to make things better, to atone for his mistake. His neighbours rebuff him and his relationships with his wife and son disintegrate. Along the way he tests himself by committing acts that a normal person would find bizarre, to say the least. The culmination is a kind of celebration and even vindication of the human (and animal) spirit. The reader is left wondering, though, what happens to Luke later. Sequel?

The language Julie Proudfoot uses is economical, yet poetic and powerful. No wasted words. It would take Stephen King 500 pages to achieve an inferior result. I’m going to read “The Neighbour” again for sure.

Resurrection Bay (Caleb Zelic, #1)Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emma Viskic’s debut novel takes the reader on a breathtaking ride. She has created a cast of memorable characters, and in my view this is the core strength of her writing. Resurrection Bay sparkles with originality, dry wit and culminates in a scene of visceral violence reminiscent of Mo Hayder. Another theme running throughout the novel is the interactions between the white and aboriginal communities, which is handled with great insight and knowledge. This excellent novel makes a terrific read for kooris and gubbas alike.

The Long ConThe Long Con by Barry Weston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Awesome debut novel by Barry Weston that captures the zeitgeist of today’s Tasmania and of Hobart in particular. I hope to see more from this engaging and witty rascal in the near future.

 

Women Who KillWomen Who Kill by Lindy Cameron and Ruth Wykes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a pivotal work describing some horrible homicides committed by women in Australia. The authors have thoroughly researched the backgrounds of the perpetrators and offer chilling descriptions of the deadly deeds: from an idea in the killers’ heads to actual execution (literally!). Highly recommend for anyone with an interest in true crime.

Invisible Women: Powerful and Disturbing Stories of Murdered Sex WorkersInvisible Women: Powerful and Disturbing Stories of Murdered Sex Workers by Kylie Fox and Ruth Wykes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book does a wonderful service to a large number of forgotten women, murdered in the course of their work in the sex industry.

 

Close Your Eyes (Joseph O'Loughlin, #8)Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In criminal psychologist Joe O’Loughlin, thriller writer extraordinaire Michael Robotham has created an original and sympathetic protagonist. In many ways, Joe reminds me of those pseudo-cops who solve all the crimes but aren’t actually police. Kinda like the Mentalist, Castle, and, dare I say it, even Scooby Doo. These guys end up doing all the leg work, facing all kinds of dangerous situations, and what do they get for it? In the case of Joe O’Loughlin, an annoying dose of Parkinson’s disease and more trouble than the early settlers, that’s what. If it’s not his poor kids getting into perilous scrapes, it’s his estranged wife coming down with a nasty case of Jimmy Dancer. The poor bloke… you just have to feel for him.

I reckon I must have read one of the O’Loughlin series years ago, the guy feels so familiar. But I wouldn’t put my house on it. For me, “Close Your Eyes” took a long time to warm up, and when the villain was finally revealed in all his perverse and disgusting glory, I felt Robotham hadn’t spent enough time developing that character and had paid too much attention to the red herrings. However, I do loves me a good, frantic ending with lots of vigorous page flipping, and in that the author delivered in spades.

There was enough meat on the bones of this novel to make me want to check out more adventures in this series.

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