Mystery and crime books from Australia. News, views, reviews, releases and author appearances - crime fiction in Australia. Crime novels, mystery novels, detective stories, police procedural books, thrillers and soft-boiled mysteries

Friday, August 31, 2007

Katherine Howell is Idiosyncratic

I was sitting down to read my regular dose of Sarah Weinman and her idiosyncratic thoughts when who should I see is guest blogging for the day? Why it was none other than our very own Katherine Howell.

Sarah has very kindly given Howell the opportunity to introduce herself to the US readers with her debut novel Frantic not yet available, it’s a splendid opportunity to sow the seeds of interest. With the frenetic pace of paramedics hard at work to set the tone, this is the kind of book that thriller readers will eat up with a spoon.

In her post, she talks about her experience as a paramedic and how she (eventually) used those experiences as a basis for her books. She finishes her piece with the news that not only does her publisher love her yet to be released second book, Panic, but she is hard at work on the outline of her 3rd book and even has some ideas for her 4th.

Plenty for us all to look forward to.

In the meantime, read Katherine's very entertaining post about the paramedic who became a thriller writer.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

2007 Ned Kelly Awards

The 2007 CWAA Ned Kelly Awards were announced and handed out this evening at the Melbourne Writers Festival in the Festival Marquee.

Best Crime Novel

Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher (Text Publications)

Best Debut Novel

Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland (Text Publications)

Best True Crime (tie)

Written on the Skin by Liz Porter (Macmillan)
Killing For Pleasure: The Definitive Story of the Snowtown Murders by Debi Marshall (Random House Australia)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Sandra Harvey and Lindsay Simpson

My congratulations go out to all winners - first timers one and all. It's wonderful to see Garry Disher picking up the award with the 4th book in the Hal Challis series, a book that saw the series forge in a new direction, one that has been rewarded. Well done, too, to Adrian Hyland once again reinforcing the popular view as to the high quality of Diamond Dove - the first Emily Tempest novel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tangled Web Interview with Peter Temple

Fans of Peter Temple's work should rush over to the Tangled Web website to catch Bob Cornwell's interview and comprehensive reflection on Peter Temple's catalogue. he takes us through his writing process, the evolution of The Broken Shore and his emergence from being a South African / Australian author to finally gain the worldwide acclaim (I think) he deserves.

There's lots I could focus on in this piece but I'll save it for your own enjoyment at Tangled Web. What I will report is the terrific news that the next Peter Temple book, titled Truth will be published next year...and that it's the second of a trilogy, following on from The Broken Shore but featuring Joe Cashin's superior, Inspector Villani.

Do I sense the impending birth of the 2008 Ned Kelly Award winner?

What I do know is that, even though I don't want to wish my life away, I'm going to be counting the days until it's publication.

Now, what are you still doing here? Go and read the Tangled Web interview.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Indigenous Literacy Day

A Media Release has arrived in the mail promoting the upcoming Indigenous Literacy Day, an extremely worthwhile cause that deserves support. The release explains:

All Australians can help raise $100,000 for remote Indigenous communities by buying a book on the inaugural Indigenous Literacy Day on September 5th.

Over 200 booksellers and publishers will donate 5% or more of their day's profits as part of the major new campaign.

Working in partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation and with the support of the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Booksellers Association, Indigenous Literacy Day aims to raise funds to buy books and resources for remote Indigenous communities.

Raising awareness of illiteracy in these areas is critical, as many Indigenous Australians struggle to read everyday items like newspapers, medication labels and bank statements, and literacy rates in these communities have been found to be worse than in many third world countries.

The idea for Indigenous Literacy Day grew from the success of the 2006 Australian Reader's Challenge (ARC) in which over 14,000 participants, including schools, libraries, booksellers and publishers raised $80,000.

For a list of participating publishers and booksellers and more infromation on Indigenous Literacy Day please visit:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reviews and opinions

Erica at Creative Dabbling has shared her thoughts on Appeal Denied by Peter Corris. As she points out Cliff Hardy is the quintessential Sydney bloke who has had a particularly tough time of it over the years. She gives us an insightful short review of the 31st Cliff Hardy detective novel.

Perry at Matilda has found that All Those Bright Crosses by Ross Duncan has fit neatly between the frenetic page-turning pace of a thriller and the slow introspective journey that examines life. He points out that the book is: Flint's journey towards an inner sense of peace as he comes to terms with himself.

Meanwhile, Susanna Yager at the Telegraph in England has read Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland and has proclaimed it an "amazingly accomplished first novel with a memorable heroine". She goes on to say that Hyland's hard-hitting prose has conjured up not only the atmosphere but the spirit of this remote little community and its colourful inhabitants. He is definitely a writer to watch.

Not to mention an interesting review of Marele Day's first Claudia Valentine mystery The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reading : Shark Arm Unhooked by Breanda Cross

Proof once again that you don't have to delve through the major book publishers to uncover a gem of a book. I have been given the opportunity of reading a book that few others will have had the opportunity to. That book is Shark Arm Unhooked by Breanda Cross. The book was published back in 2005 by Zeus Publications and as great an opportunity the publisher gives new authors to get their work out there, you don't see the books in the bookstores around the country.

Take it from me, you want to go looking for Shark Arm Unhooked.

It's set in Sydney in the mid-1930's and brings to vivid life the criminal underworld that inundated the inner-city around Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst and Kings Cross. Significantly, real life criminal characters from the time such as Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh feature prominently in the telling of the story. These two women were infamous for their rivalry sparking vicious razor gang wars as they fought over the title of Queen of the Underworld and Breanda Cross captures them in all their backstabbing best.

The story is told by Lottie Lyons, an 80-something woman who is relating her story to a journalist who has come calling. She remembers back to when she was 10 years old and the events that led up to an unsolved mystery in which a human arm was found after a tiger shark was bagged off a Sydney beach.

I was reminded while reading of similarities in mood and style with Kate Morton's The Shifting Fog and Wendy James' Ned Kelly Award winning Out of the Silence.

It was easy to become completely engrossed in the book, getting a terrific sense of what life must have been like in the 1930s. Petty crooks, major crime figures, rich low-lifes and sly-grog shop owners all make up a colourful array of characters inhabiting Surry Hills. The story is told be a rather unreliable source, being a 10 year old girl who by her own admission, wasn't present at many of the events described, but you tend to overlook this fact while enjoying the story itself. It all adds up to an absorbing read.

That this book has been largely ignored is, in itself, a crime and I heartily recommend picking up a copy if you can find one. It may be possible to order a copy through Seek Books - it's definitely worth the effort.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Age Gives Michael Robotham the Once Over

With his latest thriller, The Night Ferry, going gang-busters all over the globe what with nominations for a CWA Steel Dagger and a Ned Kelly Award, Michael Robotham once again has some explaining to do. Fortunately, Peter Wilmoth of The Age was on hand to apply the blowtorch or, at least, ask him some pertinent questions.

Robotham is always good for an amusing story or two about his journalistic / ghost-writer past and Wilmoth has little trouble drawing some of the better ones out of him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Reading : Patriot Act by James Phelan

I have just finished reading Patriot Act, James Phelan's second novel following up his debut action thriller Fox Hunt. Both books feature investigative journalist Lachlan Fox. Actually, to call Fox an investigative journalist is sugar coating things a little. The guy is a former navy operative with vast combat experience. He has been recruited by GSR (Global Syndicate of Reporters) who roam the planet tracking down the juiciest of news stories in the most dangerous of locations.

In Patriot Act the security of the world is in danger, the bad guys are the French and the target is the NSA-controlled ECHELON surveillance program which captures an astounding array of telecommunication transmissions. With access to this information, the European power brokers behind the plan believe they can take over their respective countries.

This is a frenetic story of punch and counter-punch that stretches from New York City to New Zealand and Washington DC to Greenland. It's Clive Cussler on steroids and the kind of book that simply flashes by at warp speed.

Great escapism reading.

You can buy this book at Seek Books .

Monday, August 13, 2007

Reading : Golden Serpent by Mark Abernethy

I grabbed ahold of Golden Serpent by Mark Abernethy (pub. Arena / Allen & Unwin) the other day and have been enjoying a rare treat of a stirring Espionage / Thriller, the likes of which you don't see quite so much. It's Abernethy's debut novel and is quite reminiscent of a Tom Clancy thriller only with a strong Australian flavour to it.

The protagonist is Alan "Mac" McQueen, a spy with the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) who is within spitting distance of retirement. But getting out of the intelligence game is a lot more difficult than simply applying for a new job and his superiors give him one last assignment.

It's an assignment that takes him first to Indonesia and on to various other parts of South-East Asia in a story that builds in momentum as the stakes continue to be raised.

Plenty of Aussie dialogue is mixed in with full-on action sequences performed by professional soldiers unencumbered by annoying obstacles like conciences and rules of engagement. When the mission involves using whatever force is deemed necessary you can be sure that there will be plenty of force used.

Fans of high volatile, well-planned covert operations will enjoy Golden Serpent.

A full review will be collowing soon.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

August 07 Releases

Safari by Tony Park (pub. Pan Macmillan) – The 4th novel by Tony Park is set in the wilds of Africa following Far Horizon, Zambezi and African Sky. Once again we experience a fast-paced story pitting ex-special forces soldiers against poachers to the backdrop of the wild and exotic landscape of Zimbabwe. The action is non-stop and Park tells his story with flair. This is an adventure / thriller to savour.

Golden Serpent by Mark Abernethy (pub. Arena / Allen & Unwin) – This debut action thriller is an explosive story that simply buzzes along. Alan ‘Mac’ McQueen is a spy in sight of retirement when he is sent on ‘one final mission’. It turns out to be the assignment from hell when he finds himself up against a terrorist leader he thought he had killed years ago. Chased by hit men, a rogue CIA agent and hampered by a corrupt Australian intelligence he’s up against the odds big time. Reminiscent of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum.

Patriot Act by James Phelan (pub. Hachette Livre) – This is the sequel to Phelan’s debut novel Fox Hunt and sees the return of protagonist Lachlan Fox. This seems to be action thriller month with Patriot Act marking another frenzied action novel that finds the world under threat of annihilation at the hands of evil. Full on action is guaranteed as Fox diverts disaster.

The Beijing Conspiracy by Adrian d’Hage (pub. Penguin Australia) – By the author of The Omega Scroll, the terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda raises it’s ugly head as we are led into an action thriller of epic proportions. Vials of a deadly virus have gone missing and protagonist Denzel O’Connor suspects they are in the hands of the terrorist organisation and that the target for a biological disaster could be the Beijing Olympics.

Maelstrom by Michael MacConnell (pub. Hachette Livre) – A serial killer is hunting, one who has killed many times over three decades. Meanwhile, in a fascinating twist, someone is hunting down and eliminating serial killers with great skill. You just know that something is going to have to give in this promising debut thriller.

Dark Heart: Images of A City by Travis Berketa (pub. Brolga) - Dark Heart is a thriller/social commentary about a man who has been through a lot of trauma and lost his faith in society. He notices that there are too many negative images in the media and decides that he is the cure for the city. As a vigilante, he moves into a dark underworld in order to become saviour of the city. During the novel our lead goes through several stages that bring him face-to-face with the traumas that have been tormenting him - road rage, drugs, murder and rape. While facing these situations the vigilante moves from ordinary person to an image in the newspaper; from self-appointed hero to anti-hero, and finally, inevitably, to villain.

Bye Bye Baby by Lauren Crow (pub. HarperCollins Australia) – There is a serial killer on the loose in London and DCI Jack Hawksworth of New Scotland Yard is on the case. This is the debut novel by Lauren Crow. This is a police procedural that reeks of obsession and revenge that most readers should find compelling. By the looks of things this book should be the first in a series to feature the Hawk.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tony Park Pushes Safari With Great Results

Thanks to the pressures of work my leisure time has been rudely invaded and I have missed reporting on a recent event or two. (For shame).

One such event was the launch last night of Tony Park’s latest novel, Safari. (Tony was generous enough to send me an invitation but alas, the whole time thingie – thanks anyway Tony).

As with his other books (Far Horizon, Zambezi, African Sky), Safari is set in Africa - Zambezi this time - and continues his trend of writing riveting adventure / thrillers set against the harshly beautiful backdrop of Africa.

But I have another reason for mentioning the release and that is to urge you to hop over to Tony’s blog to read his hilarious account of his recent exploits in a Sydney bookstore as he stalked a “prospective royalty contributor”.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Byron Bay Writers Festival Round Up #1

The Byron Bay Writers Festival is over for another year and, as is usually the case for me, what with small kids and a full time job Byron is just too far away to put in an appearance.

Fortunately, Jane over at Speakeasy (the blog of The Australian Writers Marketplace) has been and has produced a series of detailed reports about the panels she attended. She tells us all about the panel for Researching for Fiction that was given by Garry Disher, Richard Flanagan, Gabrielle Lord and Carrie Tiffany. She also attended the How to Create a Kick-Ass Character panel that was chaired by James Phelan and included Gabrielle Lord and Michael Robotham.

Head on over to Speakeasy to get all the good oil.