Julia Stuart’s The Matchmaker of Perigord is a wonderfully quirky mix of opposites – old and new, hilarity and melancholy, mystic fancy and pragmatism.
In Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson has plumbed literary depths uncommon in the mystery and crime-detective genre.
This is not a fast moving story, it meanders into philosophical jaunts and switches back and forth between current day and times gone by. Atkinson’s subtle character development is a real treat.
The Broken Teaglass mystery is cleverly constructed. Debut author Emily Arsenault has taken care to develop her ensemble cast of characters slowly, creating tension and gradually revealing depth in unexpected places.
The Big Ask as with other titles in Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan Series is a wonderful mix of thrilling action and caustic wit.
Murray Whelan is an underdog who seems to just get up everytime life knocks you down. He makes mistakes – big ones – but he inevitably figures out a way to deliver a bit of his own Robin Hood justice to those who mistake him for a patsy.
In The Broken Shore Peter Temple has created characters that display the darker side of humanity that is all too present in society, whether we choose to admit it or not.
There is a relentless and very personal message contained in The Broken Shore, a continual surging towards the delivery of justice in an imperfect world by imperfect people – symbolic of waves crashing into a shore. This is no pollyanna story – some readers may find the subject matter confronting (over and above the use of language I’ve already mentioned).
There is so much packed into this novel that I won’t even try to explain the plot line because I wouldn’t do it justice. Suffice to say this darkly satirical novel was a pleasure to listen to. Narrator Paul Bhattacharjee’s delivery finds just the right balance – playing up the deadpan and ironic humour to great effect while reserving a poignance for elements intended as deeper social commentary.
Many parallels are made between the work of Karin Fossum ‘the Norwegian queen of crime’ and Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. While I wouldn’t say that this novel Bad Intentions quite reaches those dizzying heights, it is a quality Scandinavian crime fiction nonetheless. At less than 200 pages Bad Intentions is less of your typical ‘who-dunnit’ novel and more of an exploration of the differing psyches of those that are ‘hunted’ by the police.
Kerry Greenwood’s everlasting protagonist Phryne Fisher, femme fatale private investigator is a woman who knows what she wants and how to get. She has a taste for the finer things in life, be they food, drink, apparel, cars or men.
What makes such a character all the more appealing is the setting in which we find her – St Kilda, Victoria Australia in the 1920s. She speaks her mind and uses her enviable charms to get away with doing so. She takes a somewhat liberal attitude to the achievement of justice for those causes she takes under her wing. Although Phryne is considered ‘fast’ by many, she has a strong moral code very much ahead of her time. She dotes on her two adopted daughters and is the perfect host to all those that enter her household.
Paul Auster’s Music of Chance is a story of both absurdity and intensity that will keep you guessing.
Add together two screw-ups, Nashe and Pozzi, chancing their luck at a game of poker with two eccentric millionaires, Flower and Stone, who just happen to want to build a stone wall in a field on their estate and you have the basic plot of Auster’s Music of Chance. Although this is the first title of Auster’s I have read, I think it is probably safe for me to say that Auster’s bizarre plots are merely vehicles through which much deeper stories are told.
Elise Warner’s debut novel Scene Stealer is a cozy mystery with attitude.
“For a moment our eyes met; his were frightened, seeking help. Was it my imagination gone wild? No. After all those years of teaching elementary school, I knew this child was afraid.”