Watching what I’m reading…2021!

Here we are, 3 days into 2021 already, and nothing much seems to have changed except my back yard looks much tidier than it has for ages. I have olives forming on my olive tree for the first time, and my avocado tree which bore 9 avocado last year is absolutely laden! I need to get a watering system up to that corner of the garden as the hose doesn’t reach and, apparently, if they don’t get enough water they will just drop their fruit.

Is anyone else having difficulty referring to 2020 as last year? I am still referring to 2019 as last year!

I was reading in the early hours of New Year’s Day, a paperback as my Kindle was on the charger, and decided that I really did need some sleep when I started tapping the right hand side of the page and wondering why it wasn’t going to the next page! 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️😂🤣❤📚

Currently I am reading The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher on my Kindle and all I can say is wow! It’s making the back of my neck tingle in anticipation. The Wrong Family is due for publication 6 January. Order your copy now!

I am halfway through reading the paperback of Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2) by Australian author Jane Harper. So far I am enjoying it even more than The Dry.

I am currently listening to Blue Genes by Val McDermid, #5 in the Kate Brannigan series. I haven’t previously read or listened to any of this series, but that isn’t impacting my enjoyment at all.

This week I plan on reading Family by Owen Mullen

Family – might be the death of you…
The Glass family business is crime, and they’re good at what they do. Vengeance took Luke Glass behind bars – but now he’s free and he’s never going back. Luke wants out of the gangster life – all he has to do is convince his family to let him go.

His brother holds the reins of the South London underworld in his brutal hands – nobody tells Danny Glass no and expects to live – not even DCI Oliver Stanford, bent copper and one of the Met’s rising stars. The way Danny sees it, his younger brother and sister Nina owe him everything. The price he demands is loyalty, and a war with their arch enemy gives him the leverage he needs to tie Luke to the family once more.

Luke can’t see a way out, until Danny commits a crime so terrible it can’t be forgiven. Love turns to hate when secrets are unearthed which pit brother against brother. Left with no choice but to choose a side, Nina holds the fate of the family in her hands.

And Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she’s the sort of person you’d want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won’t leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder …

Only one Netgalley ARC this week, and that’s an audiobook, Bibliomysteries, A must-listen collection of thirteen bibliomysteries by bestselling and award-winning authors Bibliomysteries Volume 1 includes: – “An Acceptable Sacrifice” by Jeffery Deaver – “The Final Testament” by Peter Blauner – “What’s in a Name?” by Thomas H. Cook – “Book Club” by Loren D. Estleman – and many others

Thank you Carla! I will be starting this as soon as I finish Blue Genes, probably tomorrow.

Enjoy whatever is left of your holiday period and keep calm, we survived 2020.

Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden

EXCERPT: Marjorie started to rise, her chair scraping along the lino. ‘I suppose I better do the vegies.’

‘No,’ said Pa. ‘There will be no tea here tonight.’

Marjorie stood. The two girls watched their grandfather.

‘Your father called on the telephone. The doctor said your mother has to go away – to a bloody city hospital. She needs treatment. We don’t have it here in the Mallee,’ said Pa. And his tapping fingers could have said, That is because us Mallee folk don’t generally need that sort of treatment.

‘What do you mean? What sort of treatment?’ Marjorie glared at Pa.

‘You know what I mean,’ growled Pa. ‘Your mother’s not right for this place. I said the Mallee would kill her in the end. And it’s having a pretty damn good go at it right now.’

‘No, we don’t know.’ And Marjorie was shouting again. ‘We don’t know anything! We’re never told anything!’

‘Yes you do. You bloody do know!’ shouted Pa. ‘You know as well as I do. We all bloody do.’

‘Where is she going, Pa?’ Ruby asked quietly, and her look stopped the pair of them short in their shouting.

‘A damn fool mental hospital in the city. Your mother’s gone stark raving mad.’ His hands slapped down on the table. ‘Now gorn and pack a case. When your father gets back, we have to drive to the city.’

But what about school? What about the chooks? What about the dogs? Who’s going to milk the cow? Who’s going to check the windmill? Who’s going to go round the sheep? What am I going to say to everyone at school? These were all things Marjorie wanted to ask but she didn’t have time because she only had time to pack a suitcase.

ABOUT ‘WEARING PAPER DRESSES’: You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

MY THOUGHTS: Wearing Paper Dresses is a harsh but beautiful book. 1950s rural Victoria is a place where if it can’t be fixed by a length of twine or a piece of wire, they don’t know what to do with it. Such is Elise, a cultured city woman, non-Catholic, who tries to plant a rose garden in a place where it seldom rains and where, in the summer, the temperature is often over 100°F. She doesn’t fit in. She doesn’t understand the Mallee people any more than they understand her. She is isolated, alone, out there in the red dust with a father-in-law who resents the fragile creature his son has brought home, a woman who can’t cook proper tucker, who can’t even manage to make a decent smoko for the shearers. The townsfolk treat her with disdain and ridicule her. Her daughters watch her, and protect her when they can but, after all, they are only children. There is only so much they can do.

This was, in places, a hard book for me to read, and I shed a few tears; for Elise, for Ruby and Marjorie, for my mother, and for myself. I was nine years old when my mother had her first ‘nervous breakdown’ and was carted off to the psychiatric hospital, also far away in a big city, Auckland in this case.

Anne Brinsden has accurately captured the thoughts and emotions of all involved. The bewilderment, the misery, the fear, the uncertainty, are all felt and reflected upon, as is the watchfulness when Elise returns home, the girls always on the lookout for signs that she is slipping again.

I felt for Elise, I felt her desperation. I felt for her family, Bill who loved but didn’t understand her, Jimmy Waghorn who lived in a hut on the farm and probably understood Elise better than anyone, even Pa who had never wanted her there in the first place, and the girls, Ruby who coped by never upsetting her mother and who tried to shield Marjorie as best she could, and Marjorie who was perpetually angry at everyone. But my favourite character was Jesse Mitchell, a boy from an abusive home, friend of Jimmy Waghorn, and who strikes up a secret and improbable friendship with Marjorie.

Interspersed occasionally in the narrative are extracts and adverts from journals, newspapers and other publications of the time: The Land, the Australian Woman’s Weekly, the Weekly Times, as well as frequent references to the outback woman’s bible, the Country Woman’s Association Cookbook. No meringues in there!

Wearing Paper Dresses is an outstanding novel of relationships, prejudice and the harshness of outback life. Written in a unique style, Wearing Paper Dresses is not an easy or quick read, but it is a read that will make you think and stretch your emotional resources.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

THE AUTHOR: As far back as Anne can remember she has loved stories. Mostly, she would read them. But if there were no stories to read, she would make up her own. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne now with a couple of nice humans, an unbalanced but mostly nice cat and a family of magpies. But she lived all of her childhood in the Mallee in northern Victoria before heading for the city and a career as a teacher.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library Book Club for their recommendation of Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden, published by Pan Macmillan, Australia. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Dry by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: It had been twenty years, but Falk recognized Luke’s father straight away. Gerry Hadler’s face was grey. His eyes appeared sunken into his head. He was sitting dutifully in his spot in the front row, but his head was turned. He was ignoring his wife sobbing by his side and the three wooden boxes holding the remains of his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Instead, he was staring directly at Falk.

Somewhere up the back, a few notes of music piped out from speakers. The funeral was starting. Gerry inclined his head in a tiny nod and Falk unconsciously put his hand in his pocket. He felt the letter that had landed on his desk two days ago. From Gerry Hadler, eight words written with a heavy hand:
Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.

ABOUT ‘THE DRY’: In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

MY THOUGHTS: The Dry was not the breathtaking, gripping read that I expected. It is, however, quietly compelling and I loved it.

The pace is slow and steady, very much small town rural Australia pace. The relationships between the townsfolk are intense and interesting. These are people who have no other entertainment than what is happening in their town. Secrets are currency to them.

The policeman, Raco and his wife Rita, are new in town. Policing a small rural town is never easy. There are too many people who know too much about each other, and the small town hierarchy to contend with. There are old scores to settle, resentments to fuel. But despite all this, the locals tend to close ranks against outsiders, and unless there have been generations of your family born and living there, you’re an outsider.

Even Falk, born and bred in the town but who left as a teenager is considered an outsider. And not a welcome one. There are people who believe that he was responsible for the death of teenager Elly Deacon, including Elly’s father.

Now he is back and investigating what was supposed to be a clear cut case of murder/suicide. But he and Raco have found some things that don’t add up, things that make them think that someone other than Luke is responsible for these three deaths. And someone wants him gone…

Like I said, quietly compelling. I found it quite easy to put the book down and walk away from it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, my mind tossing about the clues that Falk and Raco unearth, trying to solve the mystery before them. I didn’t.

Harper provides a credible list of suspects and cleverly weaves the old case of Elly Deacon’s death into the current investigation of the deaths of the Hadler family. The denouement is frightening.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheDry #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dry by Jane Harper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For

an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage

Watching what I’m reading…

Only a few days to go, and Christmas will be all over again. We aren’t seeing Dustin and Luke until Boxing Day, so we have invited a few other empty nesters for Christmas. It will be a fairly laid back affair; lots of nibbles, salads and bbq.

I don’t seem to have read much this week, a combination of work and my ongoing health issues. I have to learn not to overdo it when I am having a good day because I inevitably crash and burn the following day.

I am currently reading The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson, which is a backlist title from Netgalley. I have had it since 2018,so it’s good to get it read. One less bank-title to feel guilty about. I am much preferring it to The Birthday Weekend which I finished this week.

I am almost finished A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride, another back-title from Netgalley.

And I have just finished listening to The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7) by Elly Griffiths.

I have yet to download something new to listen to. I also need to write my review, which I will post tomorrow.

I have nothing from Netgalley that needs reading for review this week, but another member of my local library book club has passed on a new release she thought I would like, Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. Betty really enjoyed it. Another new Australian author for me.

You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

And I have a copy of The Dry by Jane Harper, so I would also like to read that this week.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

I only have two new ARCs from Netgalley this week (Susan stop rolling your eyes!)

Eudora Honeysett is Just Fine Thank You by Annie Lyons is my first audiobook download, which has been beset by problems. Like my ipod is too old to support the Netgalley Shelf app! So I guess I will be buying a new ipod tomorrow.

I have also received The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

My posting may well be a bit erratic again this week, so I will wish you all a happy, healthy and safe festive season now, just in case.

Btw, my tree looks NOTHING like this!

Consolation by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: The house was empty. Hirsch didn’t know if the thin trace of dust on the kitchen table indicated abandonment or bad housekeeping. But the UHF equipment in the radio room had been smashed up: violence of some kind had occurred here.

He left by the back door and walked to the jackaroos’ quarters, a pair of squat back to back rooms. Unmade beds and dirty clothes piled on wooden chairs; in one room a guitar, in the other posters of a Tasmanian rainforest, a formula one racing car and a woman in tennis whites scratching her bare bum.

The sheds: a Falcon station wagon, a trailer, tools, ladders, ropes, axles, a blacksmith’s anvil.

Hirsch stood in the yard a while, indecisive. Search a wider area? Call it in right now? The Ayliffes could be anywhere. Maybe they’d drive the Triton down into a sinkhole and the airbag would explode and slice their throats open.

Widening the circle each time, Hirsch circumnavigated the patch of buildings and stockyards. Eventually he caught, faintly but unmistakably, a stench of death borne on the wind that gusted across the rocky ground.

ABOUT ‘CONSOLATION’: Winter in Tiverton.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen has a snowdropper on his patch. Someone is stealing women’s underwear, and Hirsch knows enough about that kind of crime—how it can escalate—not to take it lightly.

But the more immediate concerns are a call from the high school, a teacher worried about a student who may be in danger at home. Another call, a different school: a man enraged about the principal’s treatment of his daughter.

A little girl in harm’s way and an elderly woman in danger. An absent father who isn’t where he’s supposed to be; another who flees to the back country armed with a rifle. Families under pressure. And the cold, seeping feeling that something is very, very wrong.

MY THOUGHTS: Paul Hirschausen is on duty twenty four seven in Tiverton and it’s surrounds. No eight hour day then knock off and put your feet up for him. Rural policing doesn’t work like that. In a typical day he might have a cup of tea and a chat about missing, believed stolen, sheep, or mysterious headlights in the night, or a grown son not taking his meds. He might help a widow start her ute with the police Toyota’s jumper leads, hold a ladder so a man can fish his grandson’s cricket ball out of the gutter, or change a tap washer for an elderly woman. He might also be shot at. . .

Consolation, the third book in the Paul Hirschausen series, initially seems gentler than the previous two, but this is merely an illusion. The crimes are different, perhaps a wider range than we have been treated to previously, but are still full of deadly intent. A farmer and his son turn rogue and go on a rampage, there is a stalker, some Irish conmen, fraud, child abuse, and a kidnapping. Just another police beat in a sleepy outback town where nothing much ever happens… Oh yes, and there’s someone stealing elderly ladies’ underwear from their clothes lines.

Paul’s relationship with Wendy and her daughter Katie continues, not without the odd hiccup, and many of the characters from the previous two novels return in this one. But Disher also introduces some new characters: Clara Ogilvie, a teacher who works with Wendy; Margaret and Amy Groote, an elderly lady and her niece; Quinlan, the stock and station agent; Sophie Flynn, a young bank teller who uncovers some strange goings on in some bank accounts; and the Ayliffes, a family on the brink.

The previous two books in the series were set mid-summer, Christmas; Consolation is set mid-winter and I could feel every blast of that icy wind, see the roads made almost impassable by the relentless rain, feel the frost crunching beneath my feet.

Again, Garry Disher held me spellbound, totally caught up in the lives of the people in this small remote town. I can’t wait for the next installment. In the meantime, I plan on starting on one of the other two series he has written. Can’t get enough of this author!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#Consolation #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Consolation by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage.

Peace by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: Six-thirty. The sun was above the droughty hills and slanting through the trees now, promising another cloudless, windless, stifling day. Time for his shower and shave, his second breakfast. But first he passed by the shop, quickly confirming that it had been a good idea to bring the garbage bag. Bending, pushing against his aches and pains, he scooped up plastic bottles, scraps of wrapping paper, dead sparklers, paper hats, cigarette butts. He moved further up Kitchener Street, hunting and pecking, and came upon a significant pool of blood.

Hirsch froze for a moment, then knelt. Touched his forefinger to it. Still sticky; spilt recently then.

He gazed along the street. Kitchener was a short street, six homes on either side. He ran a mental checklist: who was capable of violence? Who was likely to be on the receiving end?

None of these people.

Movement alerted him. A shape behind a garden hedge, a disturbance in the sparse leaves. The house belonged to an elderly widower named Cromer. Calling, ‘Mr. Cromer?’ Hirsch approached the driveway entrance.

A cry, just as he stepped onto the footpath. A queer, soft, alien cry, not of warning but of distress. And more blood. Spooked now, Hirsch entered the front yard. Blood new and glistening on the couch-grass lawn. A panicked sound, high-pitched, and Hirsch jumped in fright as one of Nan Washburn’s miniature ponies retreated, trembling, into the corner between the hedge and the side fence. He tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

ABOUT ‘PEACE’: Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘That’s all a cop wants at Christmas,’ he thought. ‘Not heavenly peace, just a general absence of mayhem.’

Eighteen months earlier, Hirsch had been unlucky enough to find himself in a corrupt CIB squad. It had been disbanded, but some of the shit had stuck and he was demoted and stationed in the remote one cop town of Tiverton. Sometimes, it seemed, that as a newcomer to the bush, his job was as much probing the landscape as probing the crimes committed in it. He does regular welfare check runs. Some of the people he calls on are lonely, others vulnerable. Some get into trouble through lack of foresight; a handful are actively dodgy. What he loves most is the variety, the different people, experiences, the fact that he never knows quite who or what he is going to encounter.

And he encounters a lot of the unexpected.

I read the first book in this series, Bitter Wash Road, voraciously. I was, when I started Peace, unsure if it would live up to its predecessor. I needn’t have worried. Peace is every bit as good. Twelve months on, Hirsch has settled into his community, he knows people (some he wishes he didn’t, like the overly officious Martin Gwynn), he has forged relationships. He has also found some old journals written by a landowner in the 1800s, and journal entries are interspersed with the text. WARNING: These journal entries contain racist comments. They need to be read in context of the time at which they were written. We cannot change the way people thought and acted at that time. We can learn from it and ensure it never happens again.

While Hirsch may be wishing for a Christmas free of mayhem, it’s not what he is going to get. A local drunk drives into the pub, a ute is stolen, there are fires, burglaries, a missing dog, and a child left locked in a car in the extreme heat. Not to mention a massacre. These last two incidents kick off a media frenzy that results in tragic consequences.

I could never have foreseen where Garry Disher was heading at the beginning of this book, but it was one hell of a ride and I enjoyed every word, every moment of it. I have book #3, Consolation, ready to start.

This is a top crime series set in rural South Australia. It is atmospheric and beautifully written. Disher’s style is descriptive; the smells, the tastes, the feel. His dialogue is natural, his characters exactly who I would expect to find out bush, often people who have been forced there by circumstance, those unable to leave due to family responsibilities, or those who choose to hide there. Disher has captured and conveyed the essence of a small remote Australian town and its inhabitants. I am keen to get back there.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Peace by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

To all of you still enjoying Sunday make the most of it!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading…

Currently I am sitting on the deck enjoying the view and the birdsong. There is a gentle breeze, it’s not overly hot, and I feel very relaxed (lazy!) Peter mowed the lawns and tidied the vegetable garden while I was at work this morning, there is a cake baking in the oven, and my neighbour has dropped over some bok choy which I will use in a stir fry for dinner tonight. My Christmas shopping is all sorted, just the wrapping to do now. Oh yes, and find the Christmas lights, which are who knows where….I haven’t actually seen them in the eighteen months since we moved.

Currently I am reading Consolation by Garry Disher, #3 in the excellent Australian crime series based around country cop Paul Hirschausen.

I am also almost half way through A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride. I love his dark humour.

And I am listening to The Ghost Fields #7 in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series.

I only have one read for review due this week, The Birthday Weekend, previously titled Our Little Secret, by Lesley Sanderson. I will read this after I finish Consolation.

Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

Time permitting, I will read a few more back titles and get a few more of those overdue ARCs off my Netgalley shelf.

After having a few weeks of only one or two new ARCs, I have seven this week. What can I say? They are my Christmas present to myself! Plus Carla of https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com and Susan of https://susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com have a lot to answer for. I have my Netgalley search for titles page open ready and waiting as I read their posts!

My new ARCs are: Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, #13 in the Ruth Galloway series

The Art of Death by David Fennell

And, finally, A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

That’s my lot for today. I am off to take a look at this cake then take a look in the garage in case the lights are down there. We went away over Christmas and New Year last year, so never put them up…

Have a happy Sunday.

Cheers

Sandy

Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: She lay as if sleeping, face down, her chest to the ground but her left hip cocked and her legs slightly splayed, one bent at the knee. Her right arm was trapped under her right hip, and her right cheek was stretched out in the dirt as if she were looking along her outflung left arm: looking blindly, Hirsch thought, thinking of the eye socket. Maybe her other eye was intact, tucked into the dirt. There was very little blood.

He took another series of photographs, focusing on the clothes. Tight black jeans, a white t-shirt, a tiny fawn cardigan, bare feet in white canvas shoes. The t-shirt had ridden up to reveal a slender spine, a narrow waist, the upper string of a black thong. Bruising and abrasions. A silver chain around her neck. No wristwatch but craft market silver rings on her fingers, and in her visible ear a silver ring decorated with a scrabble piece, the letter M.

What about ID? Hirsch couldn’t see a bag or wallet anywhere. If she was struck by a vehicle, and knocked or carried some distance, then her bag or wallet would be further along the road. Time for that later.

He crouched, peering at the area of waist and spine between the low-riding jeans and the scrap of t-shirt, and saw a small manufacturer’s tag on the thong. Her underwear was inside out. He crab-walked closer to the body and lifted the t-shirt: a rear-fastening black bra, fastened with only one of the two hooks.

None of that proved anything. It was suggestive, that’s all. He could think of plenty of scenarios to explain it, some of them innocent. For example, she’d dressed in a hurry, she’d dressed in darkness, she was short sighted, she was careless or drunk, she’d dressed in a confined space, like the rear seat of a car.

Or someone else had dressed her.

ABOUT ‘BITTER WASH ROAD’: Constable Paul Hirschhausen—”Hirsch”—is a recently demoted detective sent from Adelaide, Australia’s southernmost booming metropolis, to Tiverton, a one-road town in rustic, backwater “wool and wheat” country three hours north. Hirsch isn’t just a disgraced cop; the internal investigations bureau is still trying to convict him of something, even if it means planting evidence. When someone leaves a pistol cartridge in his mailbox, Hirsch suspects that his career isn’t the only thing on the line.

But the tiny town of Tiverton has more crime than one lone cop should have to handle. The stagnant economy, rural isolation, and entrenched racism and misogyny mean every case Hirsch investigates is a new basket of snakes. When the body of a 16-year-old local girl is found on the side of the highway, the situation in Tiverton gets even more sinister, and whether or not he finds her killer, there’s going to be hell to pay.

MY THOUGHTS: Speechless.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ huge shining outback night sky stars for Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher. This book has also been published under the title ‘Hell to Pay.’

The plot is entirely plausible. Demoted and banished to wheat and wool country, a single officer police station in a blink and you’ll miss it one road town three hours north of Adelaide, Hirsch is serving time as punishment for being a whistleblower, for dobbing in fellow officers. He is shunned by his fellow officers, for being a whistleblower is every bit as bad as being a cop on the take. Some people believe he is both.

Tiverton is a place where nothing much ever happens, or nothing much that has anything done about it, until Hirsch arrives.

A few pot shots, a missing girl, and a death ruled suicide are just the start of a chain of events I never saw coming, and that kept me glued to the pages.

I have lived in a few of these towns, not down south, but up north. Disher has described the small town hierarchy perfectly. I have known people like this, probably not bad to the same extent, but with similar senses of entitlement, or disadvantage. The personality types are easily recognizable.

Disher is a master at the art of realistic conversation. Not only could I see his characters, I could hear them. And the realism carries over into his descriptions of the countryside.
Three and a half hours, 350 kilometres, glued to the speed limit across an ochre landscape, under a vast sky. Eagles, stone chimneys silhouetted, an inclination to stone and grit, not dirt. Stone reefs, smudges of bluebush, saltbush, mallee scrub, and lone demented ewes. A hawk diving, a crow watching. Road trains, trucks, cars, the emptiness ahead and behind and shimmering lakes that dematerialised as the highway slipped beneath him. The land is harsh and unforgiving, but has it’s own stark beauty, and Disher paints an honest and accurate picture.

He portrays the hardships faced: the lack of rain, nothing to keep the kids in the towns, the insular relationships, the poverty, even of the supposedly well to do, the racism, the sexism, the abuse. But there is also that small town spirit, where in the face of adversity, everyone rallies around and pulls together.

I loved every word of this book, and already have the other two in this series loaded to read.

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Bitter Creek Road by Garry Disher, published by Text Publishing, from Waitomo District Library interloan service. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me. I had a bit of a relapse mid week, which while not bad enough to put me back in hospital, certainly knocked the stuffing out of me. I have read only two books this week, which is pretty much unheard of! I just kept falling asleep 😴😴😴😴😴😴

Friday and Saturday I spent with my grandson. We had morning tea with his other grandma, and her mother whom he calls Granny. We had a lovely catch up, then Luke and I went home and had a rest before heading off to his daycare Christmas party. That was lots of fun and I took plenty of photos

We were both pretty tired after that and went home and lay on our beds and read until dinner. Saturday morning and he had a birthday party to attend, and after I collected him it was a replay of Friday afternoon. Rest and read. I am back home today and just taking it easy. Pete is out fishing, so hopefully we will have nice fresh fish for dinner tonight.

Currently I am reading Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher, an Australian author. This is the first book in his Paul Hirschausen series, of which I have the second and third books, Peace, and Consolation, from Netgalley to read. Loving this so far.

I am also reading Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristen Harper.

I have just this morning finished listening to Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. Watch for my review tomorrow.

Not sure what I am going to listen to next, but I have lots of wonderful suggestions from Carla to follow up on. Check out her blog https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com , she is the queen of audiobooks!

This week I am planning on reading The Open House by Sam Carrington

Everyone’s welcome. But not everyone leaves…

Nick and Amber Miller are splitting up and selling their Devon family home. But despite the desirable location, the house isn’t moving. Not a single viewing so far.

When their estate agent suggests an open house event, Amber agrees, even as she worries about their gossiping neighbours attending and snooping around their home.

But Amber has more to worry about than nosy neighbours. Because thirteen people enter her house that afternoon, and only twelve leave.

And I would like to start Peace by Garry Disher, which is my idea of a Christmas read. 😉

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week:

An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

Oh! Isn’t that a beautiful cup and saucer set!

And The Day My Husband Left by Amy Miller

That’s my lot for today. I shall try to post more regularly this week, which means taking better care of myself. The problem is that I am so used to doing certain things at work that I just do them automatically without thinking, and then pay the price later. I guess I will learn with time!

Stay safe everyone!

The Survivors by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: She was lying on her side, lengthways along the beach with her back to the sea. Her arms were limp and her face was pressed against the sand. The careful highlights in her hair were dull and matted. Her baby-doll eyes were closed.

Kieran had a sudden flash of her, so different from this. Running through the spray after Audrey’s hat, looking out at the sea and laughing in frustration.

ABOUT ‘THE SURVIVORS’: Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

MY THOUGHTS: Small town dramas – love them! Evelyn Bay – Tasmania, population 900, give or take. To the north is mainland Australia, invisible, but there. And far to the south, Antarctica. A rugged and wild landscape not dissimilar to the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, from what I understand.

But home is home, and Kieran returns with his family to help his mother pack up the house and move his father, suffering from dementia, into care. And when you’re home, you catch up with old friends. Old friends who know your history, your secrets. And there’s plenty of those in Evelyn Bay.

The story moves at small town pace. Unhurriedly, but rife with gossip, innuendo and suspicion. The past comes back to confuse the investigation into the death of a summer visitor to the town, an artist who funds her stay by waitressing at the local bar/diner. There are no shortage of suspects. Liam, who also works at the diner, and who gave Bronte a lift home from work the night she was killed. Brian, Kieran’s dad, who sometimes wanders at night, and did so that night in the vicinity of Bronte’s home, and who was also last known person to see Gabby Birch who had died in the storm all those years ago. And others. I thought I had the killer pegged. I was wrong. Very wrong. About both girls. The ending is unexpected but I loved it. I loved the moral dilemmas the author created, and the delicate but realistic way she portrayed the survivors guilt.

This is a slow reveal, a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion, but far more pleasant. Harper paints portraits with her words, both of the dramatic scenery and the people. My heart ached for Verity, coping with the loss of a son in the tragedy of the storm, his death brought about by the actions of his younger brother, who has moved to Sydney and rarely returns home, and the rapid deterioration of her husband into the clutches of dementia. And for Olivia, older sister of Gabby, home to care for her mother after a failed suicide attempt and increasingly bizarre behaviour.

This is a satisfying read, more than satisfying. I enjoyed my first book by this author and have ordered her back titles to read. I like her style.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSurvivorsBook #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Jane previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Survivors by Jane Harper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com