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One of my favourite books ever

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-01-2020

This is a re-read. I've decided to finish off a few series I've started. Not sure why I started with this series as it's a lot longer than some others but I was in the mood for some good scifi. Loved this book as much as the first time. I read it in a couple of days; couldn't put it down. My favourite part is still when our heroine, Cordelia, returns to her home planet and they think she's suffering from a type of Stockholm Syndrome from being with our hero, Aral, and it doesn't matter how many times she tries to reassure them that he was not abusive, they do not believe it. This section also highlights how the media and governments can twist events to make you believe whatever they want. Written in 1986, you'd think a lot of the book's content should be dated but it isn't. A lot of the scifi aspects/gadgets are probably more relevant (the environmental issues of Cordelia's planet, for example) and believable in 2019. This book's plot twists were unique and very clever and the romance was as fabulous the second time around as when I read it originally. I tried the audio version and it's okay. I think I would have preferred a woman narrating though. Still a strong 5 out of 5 and on my favourite list. Highly recommend. Original review: I read this book on a friend’s recommendation (that is, she nagged until I relented). I will readily admit that I had never heard of this series of books (which, interestingly, has no official name, but most people call it the Vorkosigan Saga), nor its author (Lois McMaster Bujold) when she first told me to read it. Then, funnily enough, I started seeing it mentioned all over the internet, and came to the conclusion that it has a cult following. I think I can see why after reading the first book. Yes, it’s science fiction. Yes, it has futuristic space settings, battles, and technology. But, like all really good science fiction, the charm of the book is in the characters. They’re characters whose story could still work if it was set in any place or time. This book introduces us to Captain Cordelia Naismith from the Beta Colony. She’s on a scientific study on an uninhabited (by humans) planet when all hell breaks loose, in the form of Commander Aral Vorkosigan and his soldiers from a planet called Barrayar attacking her ship and crew. Betans and Barrayarans have been sworn enemies for eons apparently, but in a typical fiction twist, Cordelia and Aral find themselves stranded on the volatile planet, alone, and have to work together to survive. Cordelia is smart, sassy, and quite handy in a crisis. Aral is not considered good looking by anyone on either colony. He’s known to be bloodthirsty and sadistic. Cordelia’s slow journey of learning none of this is true is so much fun. Yes, the obvious ending is romance, and the obvious plot is conflict between our lead couple. But in between their series of Austen-like misunderstandings and learning to appreciate each other, I believe there is enough political intrigue, fight scenes, and creepy local fauna to keep most readers who dislike romance happy. Bujold does UST very well. It practically crackles up from the page at times. I enjoyed the way the supporting characters see our leads; their ages and looks especially. My favourite part of the book was when Cordelia returned to Beta Colony and how she coped (or doesn’t cope) with her fellow Betans’ opinion of Aral. The ending of the book is not only satisfying, it’s also completely intriguing, and made me straight away purchase the next book to find out what would happen. This is how all books of series should be! (Now, I have to add I’ve gone onto Barrayar, the seventh book published in the series, but the book set second chronologically. The reading order of this series is also a hotly debated subject too, it seems, with the author herself coming out and weighing in on the subject!) Overall, I loved this book. Just proves my friend was right after all. 5/5

1 person found this helpful

Romcom with heart

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-01-2020

I am probably the last person in Australia to have read this book and thought, perhaps, it was going to be one of those hyped up novels that I find disappointing. But no, I loved this book. Don is a genetic scientist/university lecturer who quite obviously (to everyone but perhaps himself) has Asperger’s Syndrome. His life is a series of schedules and structure and following rules. In social situations, however, he struggles -- especially when women are involved. After yet another disastrous date, Don decides to embark upon a 'wife project'. He gets the idea to use the same principles which have successfully helped him get by in his professional life and develops a questionnaire for possible partners, with the plan to analyse the data to find the perfect wife. He meets Rosie who fails to be compatible with any of his questions, and therefore, unsuitable, but he does agree to assist her with another project - finding out the identity of her father. From then on, the book is basically a series of misadventures featuring Don and Rosie and the ‘father’ and ‘wife’ projects. I loved the book's humour, obviously. It was hilarious. I literally laughed out loud on so many occasions. My favourite running joke was regarding Dave, Don’s baseball friend. I also enjoyed the cocktail scenes immensely, not to mention Don’s high jinx with the university skeleton. The book was more than just a comedy though and, for me, it was the book’s poignancy that probably tipped it over into 5 star territory. Told completely from Don’s first person point of view, the sadness of his life, from dealing with bullying to his relationship with his family, was what won me over completely. Some scenes were absolutely heartbreaking, especially when Don acknowledges he can be an embarrassment and that he isn’t the usual example of normal. The romantic aspect of the book too works well. You’d have to be mad not to find Don attractive, despite his idiosyncrasies. Readers will surely be cheering him on. The book had a really satisfying ending and I’m a little bit intrigued at where the sequels will lead but, as I was so impressed with this book, I’m willing to trust Simsion and look forward to reading them. I’m also keen on reading his other non-Don novels. I read this via the audible version and have to give a shout out to the narrator, Dan O’Grady. I thought the tone he used for Don was exactly right. He also managed to voice women and Don’s friend, Gene, with ease. His comic timing too was just right. Highly recommend this version. I’m happy to see that he also narrates the two sequels. 5 out of 5

Seriously good

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

This is my third Robotham book and again, I am blown away by his talent. This book is seriously good. Unlike Robotham’s other books, this one is set in the US, (I did read where he’s said he couldn’t imagine something like this happening in Australia which, frankly, is a great relief!) and starts with the book’s hero, Audie Palmer, escaping from gaol. The twist in the story is that he’s escaped only one day before he is due to be released on parole. Every man and his dog finds a reason to pursue Audie, including the police, the FBI, soldiers of fortune, ex-cons, fellow inmates and crime lords. Robotham’s skill for writing action sequences is highlighted once again, especially during this first part of the book which is full of above average fight and flight scenes. (One scene in particular, I must admit, I was not expecting and made me gasp out loud.) About a third of the way in, with the authorities closing in, Robotham actually slows the pace down a little and gradually reveals Audie’s life in the lead up to the crime. For the most, it’s a tragedy; a story of a man who has had to face hardships and disappointments thrust upon him by others. As in Suspect, Robotham’s observations of family and society and the dark side of human nature are remarkable and he manages to present many literary elements. While Audie runs and reminisces, other characters investigate the main mystery (that is, the armed robbery which Audie was convicted of carrying out). FBI agent Desiree Furness realises something doesn’t add up but after years of dealing with prejudice and sexism within her agency, getting anyone to listen might be easier said than done, so she goes it alone and digs deeper into the crime's details. Meanwhile Moss, one of Audie’s fellow prisoners, also wants to learn the truth about the shooting and the money, but the question remains whether or not he’ll use any of his findings to help or hinder Audie. Robotham builds the tension beautifully and although I thought I had it all figured out, when he finally reveals the crime from Audie’s point of view during one of the end climactic scenes, it literally took my breath away. (I think Robotham has done this in all three books of his I’ve read now!) I loved Audie. He’s such a great leading character. I was also drawn to Desiree. She is a bit of a Clarice Starling clone but that didn’t make me like her less. I suppose this is a spoiler, but I would gobble up another book with her featured. Three books in and I’m still in awe of Robotham’s talent and am straight onto book four. Obviously 5 out of 5

As good as the first in the series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

I adored Suspect, the first book in the Joe O’Loughlin series by Michael Robotham. Joe was a great character but equally as great was DI Vincent Ruiz who was the police detective doggedly pursuing Joe in that book. Ruiz was crusty and I immediately loved him and his Gene Hunt-like personality. Little did I know that not only was he going to turn up in the second book of the series, Lost (which has an alternative title of The Drowning Man), he was going to take the lead. Yes, it’s a gutsy move to relegate the character you're planning to make the star of a series to a supporting role in such an early book, but I also thought it was a master stroke. Robotham is such a brilliant writer he could probably pull anything off, of course. Written in Ruiz’s first person point of view, the action bursts out of the blocks when Vincent wakes with amnesia. He’d been pulled out of the Thames with two gunshot wounds beside a boat covered in blood which is not all his. Then, back at his house, he finds several bags of diamonds. To solve the mystery of who shot him and where the diamonds came from, Vincent has to piece together the clues with his limited memory to figure out what crime he was investigating in the first place. Helping him is Joe, who has become a good friend, and young fellow detective, Ali, who seems to be the only police officer who doesn't believe he's corrupt or incompetent or both. The action moves along with Robotham’s usual breakneck speed. And as in the other books of his I’ve read, he once again made me gasp out loud a couple of times with shock at the many plot twists and unexpected scenes which occur. Obviously we get more of Ruiz’s background in this book and it’s a treat. I loved the prickly relationship Ruiz has with his mother. She’s a magnificent but depressing inclusion. I got tears in my eyes quite often. Actually, Robotham’s characterisation overall is once again flawless. From homeless sewer rats to high court judges, everyone is written to perfection. I especially adored Ali and her family, and I was excited to learn after finishing Lost that she has her own book (The Night Ferry). I can’t wait to read it. As in Suspect, Robotham also uses the place setting, chiefly London in this case, as almost another character. (Who would have thought I’d happily read about the sewer system beneath London’s streets?) If there was one flaw in Lost, it would be the fanciful ending. Not the who-dun-it part, but without spoiling, I'll just say it's the trip Ruiz makes out of the country which seemed over the top. It was like something out of a James Patterson novel and didn’t suit the gritty reality of the rest of the book. Still, it wasn’t enough to put me off. I’m running out of superlatives to use when reviewing Robotham’s books so I’ll just say this is a strong 5 out of 5

Brilliant

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

The ninth book in the Joseph O’Loughlin series is currently out and proving very popular on my Goodreads dash, so I decided to test the waters, so to speak, and read the first book. Did I enjoy it and will I continue with the series? Yes and yes! Two big fat definite yeses! The plot is complicated but believable. A woman is brutally murdered and dumped in a canal not far from where psychologist Professor Joe O’Loughlin and his family lives. When showing a photo to a group of prostitutes in a bid to identify the victim, the lead detective, the gloriously crusty DI Ruiz, meets Joe and asks him to help out with the case. Soon, however, all the evidence in the case points to Joe being the murderer. Joe is the everyday ordinary man and not the physical Tom Cruise-like hero. His job is basically a desk job and, to add to his physical woes, he has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, he has to find ways to mentally outwit both the police and the real murderer to save the day and this was one of the more entertaining aspects of the book. The (assumed) villain is a patient of Joe’s and I loved the way Robotham peeled back layer upon layer of his life to, for want of a better word, justify the crimes he is (presumably) guilty of carrying out. I also adored all the other supporting characters, from Joe’s tough father to his ever efficient receptionist. I could picture them all so clearly in my mind. I really hope many will feature again in subsequent books in the series. I haven’t read characters with such depth in quite a while. Although Robotham is Australian, the book is set in London and Liverpool. I loved all the Liverpool scenes in particular. The locals were funny and uncomfortably fearsome in equal measure. Robotham’s style is fantastic. Although the book has so much going on in it, it’s still an easy read, fast paced and a definite page turner. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out how Joe would get out of his dilemma. Just a warning, sitting up late at night to finish the book will happen. I was very careful not to read any spoilers for this book or blurbs from future books. Even though I knew Joe would make it through to the end of the book and be vindicated (obviously as he has to feature in eight further books), I was still nervous for the outcome of Joe’s family and friends and there was an unexpected twist in the end that left me breathless for a long moment. This book is currently reduced on the ebook sites and I recommend you snap it up as soon as possible. (Actually, I was thinking about James Patterson after I finished. This is pretty much how Patterson should write but doesn’t, so if you’re looking for something in that vein, you should try this series.) Suspect, Joe and Robotham have become instant firm favourites and I can’t wait to continue with the series. 5 out of 5

My least favourite Willis still gets a high rating

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

Crosstalk is a story about Briddey who decides to have (is pressured into having actually) an EED, which is a device implanted in your brain to make you more emotionally connected with your other half. Obviously sticking anything into your brain just to be trendy is a bad idea and things don't go to plan. (If you're feeling all superior, thinking you would never do such a thing, get over it; no one heeds any warnings about mobile or airpod use). Briddey's other half, Trent, is a complete dick (I think it’s pretty obvious from the first chapter so I won’t say that's a spoiler) who is more worried about his job than Briddey's welfare. So, to the rescue comes CB, a techno whiz who works at the same mobile phone company as Briddey and Trent. I would say Crosstalk, out of everything Connie Willis has written, is probably her most mainstream offering. Definitely in Australia it’s the only one of her titles I’ve seen readily available in paperback format. (I bought the Oxford Time Travel series in book form after listening to them on audible and I had to get them from overseas.) And, unlike her other books which only have a hint of romance, it's probably one which could almost be catergorised as a straight up romance. Or if I was getting technical, a scifi romantic comedy. Although mainstream, it is still a very trademark Connie Willis book. Yes, Crosstalk is my sixth Connie Willis book and, as such, I am now very familiar with her style. Actually, I would say there is no other writer that I can think of (certainly none I’ve read of late) that has such a distinctive and familiar style. She always includes communication issues for the characters. Here she has characters who can’t get through to others due to lack of mobile coverage, or phones not being turned on, or phones being taken off their owners for one reason or another. This is all rather ironic in Crosstalk as much of the plot is centred on Briddey's phone company (a rival to Apple) wanting to expand into a world where communication with others would be even more instantaneous and all encompassing. For those of you who have conspiracy theories regarding mobile phone usage, this is the book for you! (Or not, depending on the state of your nerves.) The other Connie Willis ‘must have’ is characters being unable to do something because of their physical constraints. In Passage, for example, it was a confusing hospital layout which had the lead characters stuck in stairwells etc. In Crosstalk, Willis takes on a corporate office. Priddey has to divert her mission on many occasions because of the physical layout of her office building including (my favourite) avoiding people by diving into the claustrophobic photocopy room without knowing if it is already occupied by someone else she should be avoiding. Another popular Willis theme which pops up again is marental love and its various issues. This time, it was a mother with helicopter syndrome. Priddey's sister has terrible anxiety when it comes to her only child and she hovers and monitors everything nine year old Maeve does. Maeve, not surprisingly, rebels and Willis manages to make this into a dramedy of sorts. Maeve reminded me a lot of Maisie from The Passage, although I do much prefer the latter, not to mention Colin from Doomsday Book and Binnie and Alf from Blackout/All Clear. Those young characters really tugged at all my heartstrings and, although one of the major plot points of Crosstalk was the need to protect Maeve, I didn’t find all this so convincing. Maeve, for starters seemed a little too clever for her age and I guessed almost all of the twists surrounding her plot which was disappointing. Actually, I guessed quite a lot of the plot points in Crosstalk. Willis usually throws such curveballs and I kept waiting for one that I’d missed which was going to smack me in the head. There were a couple of surprises, but no shocks, if that makes sense. I think Willis’s book fall into the love them or hate them category and I definitely love them. In fact, I have a weird almost unhealthy passion for her books. However, unfortunately, out of all the ones I’ve read so far, Crosstalk is my least favourite. I’ve thought about this and I think my main issue is that I was expecting more. As I said, it seems to be her most commercially successful and I was expecting pure sweet and funny and romantic. I got that but I also got predictable now and then and I’ve never really had that feeling with her other books. Also unlike her other books, there isn’t much tragedy and, if I’m honest, I really think it needed some to give it that extra punch she usually throws my way. There was an attempt of tragedy/drama but unfortunately I never really felt scared or sad for our characters. Oh, there were a couple ‘how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-this’ moments but never that huge knot of tension in my guts I felt as I read the Oxford series and The Passage. I also never fell completely and utterly in love with Priddey or CB. I liked them but I wasn't in love with them like I am with Mr Dunworthy and Mary Ahrens and Merope, for instance. Another thing Willis also adds in every book that didn’t work as well for me in Crosstalk was her pop culture references. She’s used Agatha Christie books and the Titanic disaster, for example. In To Say Nothing of the Dog she uses my beloved Harriet and Peter from Dorothy Sayers. In this one it’s show tunes. Ugh. I hate musicals with a passion, so this just didn’t work for me at all. She also uses a couple of poems but they’re very American and I had never heard of them, so again, I think I felt a little cheated in this arena even. (I will say I liked the library references though and, as I assume everything Willis tells us about it is true, found it nuts as well as fascinating.) If I had to compare this to a normal book, I’d easily give it 5 out of 5. But comparing it to other Willis books, I have to rank it lower even though that breaks my heart. 4 1/2 out of 5 (I know, you're saying half a measly star - but if I could, I'd give all her other books 100 out of 5, so that half a mark is actually a really big deal.)

1 person found this helpful

Not quite nice at all

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

Well, it’s an apt title. Or an alternate could be Not Quite Good. Ugh. I’m so disappointed. I was so looking forward to reading this book, the first by Celia Imrie, one of my favourite actresses. I assumed it would be funny and feature older characters finding love. Older character romance is my favourite and so rarely done. There was also the promise of the French riviera and some feminist empowerment. And cue the ‘fantasy vs reality’ meme… Ugh. The book has two female leads. Theresa, a divorcee, is fired from her administrative position in a solicitor’s office and, faced with a retirement of babysitting her bratty granddaughters, packs up and moves to a seaside town just near Nice in France. There, Sally, an ex-game show hostess, resides with the dream of returning to serious acting and buying a bigger home. Their ‘friends’ include an obligatory gay couple, a stylish American couple, an older botoxed-to-the-hilt loudmouth drunk, the mousy nondescript newbie, a corporate highflyer (whose first scene involving her slapping Theresa like some sort of trashy Dr Phil guest is too ridiculous for words) and her philandering poet of a husband. One thing many of the characters have in common is their children are horrid. And I mean horrid. I can’t quite fathom that a/ children would treat their parents like they do in this book or b/ anyone would let their children treat them like they do in this book. I’m sorry, it’s unbelievable. Okay, so there might be people out there with awful children but I would assume they were horrible parents in the first place. These middle aged horrors seem to have all been hatched from hell with no help from their mother or father. One bad apple might be understandable but for these characters to *all* have such demon children is weird. The main plot of the book is not these parents sorting out their middle aged evil spawn, or them finding some sweet romance, or them having any sort of life affirming epiphanies. No, it’s them being victims of a conman thief. The conman’s identity isn’t even made a secret, so the only mystery you have to solve is why these grown ass women are so naive and pathetic. I want to go on and on about these English characters going to another country and only mingling with other English people when they get there but to point out how blatantly racist this is would just get me cranky again… I really feel for the poor locals. Actually they aren’t only English, there’s a couple of Americans and even an Australian (just don’t even get me started on this, I mean it's like Imrie decided to cast Paul Hogan or Bryan Brown's evil twin from the 80s into the role and we're supposed to think he's what? cute? funny? quirky? I can't even...) but they’re all white (diversity is merely the token gay couple) and all extremely non-French. So much for immersing yourself in the place. The weak plot and horrible characters are not even saved by any sort of flowery pretty descriptive passages. There’s water and sunshine and restaurants and… Oh, there’s random foodporn which is also strictly non-French. I was so utterly confused about this. Again, way to immerse yourself in the setting… I glanced at the other reviews for this book and a couple mentioned the book might have worked better for them if they’d listened via Audible as Imrie narrates. I’m here to tell you, this is not the case. I listened and swapped over to reading often as Imrie’s slow drawn out narration of most of the scenes increased my impatience with the novel. The sad thing here is that her voice was how, I would assume, she imagined the characters to sound/act as she read and some of her choices for their tone made me hate these people even more, if possible. I’m so sad (mad?) that the only reason this was published was because it was written by a well known actress. Surely no publisher would have snapped up this mess on its own merits. Plus I’m horrified that I’d already purchased the sequel to this mess, Nice Work. My only question is, will I embark on some sort of social experiment and read it. Maybe. One day. Not quite now. 1 out of 5

1 person found this helpful

Dramatic historical fiction

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

Bonegilla was a post WW2 Migrant camp in Victoria and the first stop for Europeans when they arrived in Australia. They stayed in the camp whilst authorities assisted them to find jobs and housing somewhere in the country. Three young girls - Vasiliki from Greece, Elizabeta, a Hungarian whose family had been forced to live in Germany, and Iliana, from Italy, become friends with a young Australian girl who helps them with their English, Francis, whilst their families are based at the camp. The book follows the lives of the four girls from then. Obviously there is a lot of drama for each girl throughout. Usually with this style of book, I end up disliking one of the characters and their plot but this time I really enjoyed each girl’s storyline. I don’t really even think I had a favourite or least liked. I will admit though, given that Purman is traditionally a romance book writer, I found the romantic plotlines a little underdone. I think my biggest problem was that a lot of the details of the romances happened ‘off screen’. Quite often I was reading about some potential romantic subplot of one of the girls and then, the next chapter would have everything resolved and Purman had moved on to a new subplot. When reading historical novels, it’s always interesting to note how society’s attitudes towards women, marriage, children, and, obviously, migrants has changed so much. Of course it’s always sad to note too how some aspects and attitudes have not changed at all. My mother, who is in her 80s, is always asking me to recommend her books and I think this is one I could as it seems suitable for all. There are no graphic sex scenes or whatnot. The story spans several years and I must admit, I shed a tear or two at times. I will probably try another Purman title. 4 out of 5

6 people found this helpful

Great narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

I recently received the second book in this Aussie mystery/crime series featuring journalist Martin Scarsden to review, so decided I’d better catch up on the first, Scrublands. Martin goes to the small [fictional] country town of Riversend, the site of a mass shooting the year before, to write about how the townspeople are coping with the after effects of that devastating event. He isn’t there to investigate the shooting itself but, of course, he does. The main crime plot is compelling; an unexpectedly violent and horrendous mass murder perpetrated by a priest with seemingly random victims. There are several other mystery/crime plots that weave their way through the book. I really enjoyed them all and enjoyed trying to work out how and if they were connected to the main crime. Unlike Candice Fox’s Crimson Lake, which I read recently, I really enjoyed Hammer's depiction of an Australian town. Having lived in some small towns in my life, Hammer’s Riversend was very authentic. Okay, there usually isn’t as much crime as this but the other issues its inhabitants are dealing with are typical: drought, bush fires, bankrupt small businesses and farms, banks and other essential services transferring their offices to larger towns, and the one that always depressed and surprised me the most when I lived ‘out west’, high incidents of suicide. Hammer's descriptive prose of the Australian landscape was fantastic and probably my favourite thing about the book. I could feel the heat and dust on my skin, I'm sure. For the lead Martin is okay but, at times I thought he could go by the nickname Marty Sue. He not only solved the crimes, he saved characters from near death, became the confidant of both the state and federal police, joined the rural fire brigade and fought fires with no training (huh?) and, most annoyingly, got the [much younger] girl. It’s actually one of the minor characters, old Codger Harris, who charmed me the most and I hope he pops up in the sequel. I listened to the book via Audible and I thought the narrator did a great job. His timing and voice choices were spot on. I’d highly recommend this format if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the size of Scrublands. It’s a pretty long book. Despite my minor whine about Marty, I still recommend Scrublands highly. 4 ½ out of 5

Highly recommended

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-2019

I feel like I’m the last person to read The Dry; it is one of the most popular books of people I follow on Goodreads. As such, I had high expectations which is always fraught with danger. I was also a little worried as I’d just read Scrublands, a book which is [rightfully] constantly compared to The Dry. Was it a mistake to read two books with such similar themes so close together? The Dry starts with our hero, Aaron Falk, returning to his childhood hometown, the drought ravaged farming community of Kiewarra, to attend the funeral of his teenage best friend, Luke. Luke has seemingly committed suicide after first shooting dead his wife and son. Luke’s parents aren’t convinced and ask Aaron, now a federal police officer, to look into the deaths. Falk, not surprisingly as the book would be pretty short otherwise, finds inconsistencies with the evidence and soon teams up with the local policeman to investigate further. I loved that the Falk and the local copper, Raco, become friends and work on the case together. I am sooooo over the whole ‘this is my jurisdiction, I’m going to be an asshole and block you in your attempts in solving the crime at every chance I get’ local police character. Raco was great and I really enjoyed his and Falk’s friendship, probably more than I did Luke and Falk’s. Not that all Kiewerra’s townsfolk are so accepting of Falk of course. Falk and his father left town when they were both chief suspects in the death of Falk and Luke’s school friend, Ellie. Ellie’s death and the way the locals treated the Falk family afterwards really tugged on my heartstrings. I did think, for a minute, that Harper was going to leave this secondary mystery unsolved but, slight spoiler, she does reveal all in the end and there’s enough twists and turns to make it a satisfying closure. Harper, like Chris Hammer, really makes the Australian landscape come to life. Although Kiewarra was fictional, it was a realistic depiction of a rural Australian town, the good and the bad. I must say, if there was a competition between the two books, I would lean towards favouring The Dry simply because of Aaron Falk. I can see why Harper has written a sequel featuring him and filmmakers are already working on bringing him to the big screen. He’s probably one of the best literary detectives I’ve read for a long time and I fell in love with him immediately (as opposed to sometimes needing one or two books to warm to some detective heroes of series). I did listen to this book via the audio version. The narration was great. I highly recommend it. I did wonder if the flashbacks are written in italics or not in the normal book version. Harper seemed to insert them seamlessly into the timeline and I was really impressed with how the narrator also worked them into the story without missing a beat or being hackneyed about it. So, to answer my questions from the start, yes, my expectations were met and no, I wasn’t perturbed by another Aussie small town in drought mystery book. Highly recommend (even though you’ve all probably read it already anyway) and looking forward to book two. 5 out of 5