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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Wreckage by Michael Robotham

The new thriller by Michael Robotham is The Wreckage (pub. Sphere) and it is an expansive novel that is set in London and Baghdad. It is a story that makes use of some of the more influential real life stories that have taken place around the world in more recent times including the Iraq War and the global financial crisis.

The principal character of the book is Vincent Ruiz, the former police detective that has appeared in other books by Robotham. It starts with Ruiz finding himself the victim of a couple of grifters who run their con on him to steal various valuable items including one or two that have sentimental value. Not being one to sit back and take a hit like that, Ruiz sets about tracking down the man and woman thieves, catching up with them just in time to get himself embroiled in something that is far more dangerous for all involved.

The Baghdad part of the story involves a series of bank robberies and the American reporter that is tracking the cases, linking them together to form a hazy picture of supposition. His theories are given greater credence when he is given 48 hours to leave Iraq by the local police after asking one too many questions.

The Wreckage is a fast-paced thriller that draws together all of the main characters nicely in a free-flowing story. There is a continual sense of danger underlying the entire plot with much of the stink coming from the rich and powerful with the occasional religious zealot thrown in to provide us with the added danger that comes from an unfeeling assassin who will kill without mercy.

It is the kind of high quality writing that we have come to expect from Robotham and a reason why I continue to look forward to his books with great anticipation.

Find out more about The Wreckage by Michael Robotham at the Australian Crime Fiction Database.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Book: Ring of Fire by Peter Klein

The latest racing-related crime thriller from Peter Klein will be out in August and it is a cracker of a read. It is titled Ring of Fire and it is published by Pan Macmillan.

This is not a John Punter novel, Klein has moved away from the protagonist of Punter’s Luck, Punter’s Turf and Silk Chaser (Ned Kelly Award nominee) but he remains in Victoria. In Ring of Fire the main character is Ryan Carlisle and Ryan is a racing steward. So, basically, Klein has moved his readers from one side of the racing game to the other and given us a glimpse into what might take place behind the doors in the steward’s room.

However, the main focus of the story focuses on a serial arsonist who is attacking members of the racing industry. Trainer’s stables and other people connected in the industry are falling victim to the arsonist and Ryan Carlisle gets himself deeply involved in chasing down who it is.

For those who have an interest in horseracing related crime novels and have already enjoyed reading Klein’s earlier books the new Ring of Fire will definitely hold great appeal. It has some great elements to it that will ensure those who enjoy the process of elimination that comes with a good mystery leading up to a hectic ending.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How the Dead See by David Owen

After the return of Detective Inspector Franz Heineken of the Tasmanian Police Force in No Weather For A Burial in 2010, David Owen has followed up with another Pufferfish mystery titled How the Dead See (pub. 40 South Publishing).

As with the previous five Pufferfish mysteries the state of Tasmania is once again reeling from a suspicious death and Heineken, along with his team of Detective Sergeant Rafe Tredway and Detective Constable Faye Addison, is charged with the duty of solving the case. In this case the victim is one Rory Stillrock a former Hollywood star who has spent his more recent years womanizing and boozing while attempting to restart his career in the entertainment industry. It’s a high profile death that puts Heineken and his team under the pump.

Also keeping the police busy is the theft of a diamond necklace from home safe that was hidden inside the wall of a mansion in the well-heeled suburb of New Town. The burglary has all the hallmarks as the work of one of Tasmania’s best safecrackers, but the guy has been passing it around for months that he has given the game away. It’s the kind of case that is right up the cluttered alley of the Pufferfish.

As with the other books in the Pufferfish series there are a stack of references to the state of Tasmania and the landmarks that typify the countryside as some of the most picturesque in all of Australia. It is a setting that adds to the enjoyment of the book that makes it as worthwhile to read as the plot of the novel itself. The fact that many of the landmarks are described by Heineken in his gruff, acerbic tone somehow increases their wild appeal.

Franklin’s a charming little place spread thinly along the western bank of the
Huon River. Pub, cafes, antique shop, Victorian theatre building, boatbuilding
school, rowing club, footy oval right on the river bank. Assorted watercraft sit
on the sparkling, motionless water. Behind, the hillsides slope up, largely
cleared but with forested patches increasing further back. Altogether,
Franklin’s about as charming a rural hamlet as you would wish for. 183

It may not be immediately obvious in the way I have described the storyline but there is a crackling humour running through the narrative of the book. Heineken has an opinion about everything and a razor sharp delivery that cares not one iota about the way in which his delivery lands. He gets the job done and he does so in a no-nonsense way that is always entertaining.

I am currently reading the book for the second time, giving myself to enjoy the way in which the story unfolds and the sardonic tone in which Heineken presents his every thought to us. With two cases drawing quickly to their conclusion this is a crime novel that doesn’t muck about, just as with Heineken himself.

It is worthwhile going back and reading the entire back catalogue of the Pufferfish series (click on the links to be taken to my reviews of each book): Pig’s Head, A Second Hand, X and Y, The Devil Taker and No Weather For A Burial. Admittedly, tracking them all down may be difficult and if you find that to be the case you might simply limit yourself to reading No Weather For A Burial followed by How the Dead See.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Simple Death by Michael Duffy

On finishing reading The Simple Death by Michael Duffy (pub. Allen & Unwin) I was struck by the way in which life and death is dealt with depending on the hand that circumstance deals you.

The Simple Death is Duffy’s second novel featuring Sydney Detective Nicholas Troy following on from his impressive debut novel, The Tower. The story starts with the disappearance of a man off the Manly Ferry which is eventually found to be a murder. It is this investigation that occupies Troy’s time, but he is also being troubled by a few other events in his life.

His long-time mentor and friend, Father Luke Corelli is lying in a cancer hospice close to death and facing accusations of child abuse from many years ago. Troy’s wife has moved out of home and taken their young son to Queensland following some of the harrowing events from the first book. And finally, Troy’s immediate superior, Detective Sergeant Jon McIvor appears to be contemplating leaving the force to become a singer full-time. There’s a lot to take in, both for Troy and the reader.

Introduced to the story comes a woman named Leila Scott who has smuggled a drug into the country for her mother who is terminally ill with bone cancer. It is her involvement with a voluntary euthanasia group that appears to somehow tie back to Troy’s case.

Exactly how is a complete mystery.

It is this process that Duffy proceeds to perform with great dexterity. Not only does he deliver a relevant and clever story he does so while expanding on the characters that were first introduced in the first book. Mystery surrounds many diverse parts of Troy’s investigation and with the problem of a boss whose mind is not entirely on the job, the distraction of a wife and son who may never return and the struggle to understand the plight of his friend there is a great deal to hold together.

The Simple Death is more than a crime novel. At times it provides commentary on today’s society and the way in which popular opinion is manipulated. The battle between the law and a merciful death is one of the arguments that is inevitably going to arise when broaching a subject that is far more complex than it first appears on the surface.

It is the issue of euthanasia that makes a lie out of the title of the book, mocking the concept that the death or deaths in this novel are simple. In fact they are all very complex, particularly when tying to come to terms with the motivation behind them and the justifications used in carrying them out.

The Simple Death highlights the fact that there is nothing simple about death.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Line of Sight by David Whish-Wilson

Line of Sight (pub. Viking Penguin) is the second novel by Western Australian author David Whish-Wilson following his debut novel The Summons (2006). This is a chilling fight conducted by one straight policeman against the might and power of a rotten to the core police force and state government. The following brief review is the one that I have psoted on the Crime Down Under website and I am reposting it here for those who missed it.

Review of Line of Sight by David Whish-Wilson

The year is 1975 and a Royal Commission into police corruption has been called in Perth, Western Australia. The murder of Ruby Devine, a brothel madam, has opened up countless questions over the operations of some of the highest ranking police in the state.

Detective Superintendant Frank Swann has blown the whistle on his colleagues and they have closed ranks against him using every dirty trick in the book to discredit him. The judge that has been brought out of retirement and flown in from Melbourne quickly finds out that his appointment has been made with the expectation that the Royal Commission will come to the conclusion that the police have no case to answer and that Swann’s claims are those of a man who has already suffered one breakdown and could be going through another.

Then there is the hit man who has flown into town with a quick in and out job to do. His presence is noted but the target is not made clear. Certainly there is more than a little intrigue over his presence in Perth.

Whish-Wilson creates a pertinent metaphor for the predicament that Swan has found himself in while Swan goes for a swim in the surf: “If he was in the wrong place it would spear him down into the sand and hold him under until it passed; if he was in the right place he would ride it until his weight dissolved and he found himself delivered gently onto the shore”.

When it’s one man against the world thoughts must inevitably turn to chucking it all in and giving up. The burdens carried by Swann as the story unfolds become increasingly clear until you are left with a deep admiration for the resolve of the man. However, one also can’t help but question his common sense.

There is no doubt that Whish-Wilson has drawn deeply from the well of corruption that rocked WA a few decades ago.

For more details about the book you can visit the page on Crime Down Under devoted to Line of Sight by David Whish-Wilson.