Reviews

11 May 2022

The Darkest Sin by D V Bishop

“After all, how much trouble could a convent full of nuns be?” Cesare Aldo, an officer of Florence’s criminal court, is at first dismissive in his approach to the women of Santa Maria Magdalena. However, he soon realises they are varied, complex, and far from compliant. The victim’s body is cold but swamped in still-wet blood, there has been a theft of vestments, one of the nuns appears to have stigmata, and one in the convent might be a murderer.

3 May 2022

The Final Call by Jen Shieff

Carmel is approaching her 40th birthday. She is noticing the odd wrinkle, and she occasionally feels unattractive. She is torn between her job at the Grand Palais - and her relationship with Rita, the madam – and the possibility of going into a legitimate business and a romantic relationship, with Istvan, the barman and handyman at the brothel. But a gruesome murder, threatening phone calls, a wayward nephew, and a minx who seems intent on supplanting her, give Carmel plenty of other things to worry about.

26 Apr 2022

Remember Me by Charity Norman

Emily Kirkland never felt close to her father, Dr Felix Kirkland. So, when his neighbour calls her from Aotearoa to say her father is struggling on his own and can she return to help, she thinks it would be “easier to talk to him when he’s dead.” However, as she has no pressing commitments in London, she decides to give her father three weeks. As her time with him stretches out, she learns things about him, and the disappearance of the neighbour’s daughter Leah, that leads to her “becoming very, very afraid of the truth”.

22 Apr 2022

Exit .45 by Ben Sanders

Marshall Grade is living in New York, passing his time solving really hard Jackson Pollock jigsaw puzzles, when an old buddy from his Brooklyn South, NYPD days, Ray Vialoux, asks to meet him. Ray is deep in gambling debt, and his family are being threatened. Grade knows “Data has a gravity. There’d be a point where he’d learned too much, and couldn’t just walk away from the problem.”

19 Apr 2022

Entanglement by Bryan Walpert

Paul is at a writers’ retreat in 2019, writing pieces in response to prompts, pieces from his life, from the stories he used to tell his daughter. Paul remembers episodes from 2011, in reverse chronological order, it is the year he got to know Anise, the woman he would marry. In no particular year, Paul is disoriented: “Was memory loss expected? Maybe you have forgotten you expected it, or will expect it.” He can’t remember his name. He has a photograph of Anise and his young daughter, whose name also escapes him.

8 Apr 2022

Both Feet in Paradise by Andy Southall

A woman is waiting at Auckland International Airport for her parents to arrive. She thinks of them impatiently: “Dad off on his walks, and Mum busy with her cousins, her friends, her legions of family.” Adam is on an island somewhere in the Pacific, desperate to get home - his younger daughter, Naomi, is very sick, and he longs to be with her, but things keep obstructing his departure. Eve looks back on her life and her relationships. She is the daughter of a missionary to Samoa who never went back to England. Eve never wanted, and still doesn’t want, to leave the place of her birth, but she determines she must help Adam leave her island – her paradise.

31 Mar 2022

A Good Winter by Gigi Fenster

It is a good winter for Olga. She has befriended Lara, and is spending most days helping her look after her daughter Sophie, and Sophie’s son Michael. Sophie is experiencing post-natal depression and finding it hard to care for her son, and she is still mourning the death of her husband. Lara has left her part-time job, so she and Olga spend most days in a routine of caring for Lara’s family. Olga has found her soul mate: “We’re both roll-up-your-sleeves-and-make-a-pot-of-tea kind of people.”

30 Mar 2022

Unsheltered by Clare Moleta

"Mum, look!" - the last words Matti had said, and Li hadn’t looked. Had Matti been trying to draw her attention to “A flicker of light or shape of a cloud, a wobbly tooth, a new trick, something small with wings. A clue”? Matti and Li had already lost Frank, Matti’s father, and then Li had lost Matti. All three had been together in Nerredin. But they had set out for “the best place we can find” when, after 14 years of drought, the countryside was severe and hot enough to burst into flames, and a flash flood had been so sudden and strong it had washed a child away down a storm drain.

24 Mar 2022

Talk to Me by T. C. Boyle

Aimee Villard is a misfit, a loner, an undergrad at a California university, when she sees an associate professor from the university on a TV gameshow, accompanied by Sam, a chimpanzee. When Aimee sees Sam, an “adorable, big-eared doll come to life”, she is captivated. The academic is Guy Schermerhorn, ambitious, arrogant, lascivious. Guy is the “golden boy” of Iowan university professor, Dr Donald Moncrief, who is the alpha male in the field of primate language studies – “the hottest thing going”.

21 Mar 2022

Dying Grass Moon by Andrea Jacka

Dying Grass Moon is the second Hennessey Reed mystery after One for Another. Back in Melancholy, Idaho Territory, in the late 19th century, Hennessey and Marshall Rafael Cooper are estranged but still very much connected. Their community is still trying to heal from the atrocities of Hennessey and Raff’s last adventure, and are holding a fair to lift spirits. Then Raff discovers a fresh crime has been committed, and this one turns out not to be a one-off horror.