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Kerry Greenwood

Phryne Fisher Mysteries, book 17

Allen & Unwin (2008)

ISBN: 9781741149999

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published in November 2008)

Kerry Greenwood has written many speculative fiction novels, but is possibly best known for her Phryne Fisher mystery stories. This is one of those novels, and it has only the faintest connection to the speculative fiction genre. It’s an enjoyable novel, though, and readers who know only Greenwood’s speculative fiction may well want to try this series as well.

Set in 1929 Australia, the novel is part of the continuing story of Phryne Fisher. The aristocratic and rich Miss Fisher is an amateur detective; although she earns some money from her endeavours, she doesn’t really need it and undertakes her investigations more from curiosity or a desire to help someone. Here Phryne finds herself dealing with two mysteries. In the first, the formidable Mrs Manifold approaches Phryne for help. Her son Augustine was found drowned on a St Kilda beach; suicide, the police say. But Mrs Manifold is certain he would not kill himself, and her reasons are convincing enough for Phryne to agree to try to find the truth. At the same time, a local lawyer has approached Phryne for help in finding an illegitimate child – who would now be an adult – and who might or might not exist. Read the rest of this entry »

Ally Carter

Heist Society, book 2

Hyperion Books

ISBN: 9781423147954

Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There are two very important points about heist stories which are reiterated throughout this second volume of the ‘Heist Society’ series. Firstly, heist stories are about family, usually the kind of family which is assembled from a group of misfits rather than actual blood relatives. This allows them to be stories about love and trust, even as the protagonists themselves are deeply untrustworthy. Secondly, heist stories are usually all about the boys.

What I really like about Carter’s books, apart from her being the author of some of the best fun, escapist (and yet smart) YA stories since Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries, is that she takes stories that are normally all about men, and gives them to girls instead. The Gallagher Girls took the world of James Bond, the Bourne Identity, etc. and asked the question, where would those spies send their daughters to school? The Heist Society series likewise asks about the youngest generation of a traditionally male occupation, but this time it’s the con men, jewel thieves and catburglars whose kids are having their own adventures.

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Stuart MacBride

Harper Collins

ISBN: 978-0-00-724462-1

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

If you take out all the obscenities and overlook the unpleasant sexual crimes committed (in the past) by one of the central characters, Dark Blood is actually a very middle of the road novel. It’s not exciting, it isn’t strongly plotted, and none of the characters will rouse your sympathies. It’s well written, but mildly interesting at best.

As the novel opens, convicted rapist Richard Knox is being relocated to Aberdeen. He’s served his time and so is free to live where he wants, including returning to his childhood home. But no-one believes he’s done with offending, so he’ll be under close observation. Detective Sergeant Logan McRae is part of the team responsible for overseeing Knox. He’s not happy; he’s got enough problems as it is without babysitting an evil weirdo. His career is in the toilet, his relationship isn’t great, he’s drinking himself to death, and criminals will just keep on and on committing crimes on his patch. And a lot of those criminals hit him rather hard, doing quite a bit of physical damage.

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Jeff Somers

Orbit

ISBN: 978-1-84149-705-1

Publisher: Orbit

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Eternal Prison is the third in the Avery Cates series, preceded by The Electric Church and The Digital Plague. Like the first in the series, The Eternal Prison is a moderate success – enjoyable but not particularly memorable.

Avery Cates is a hitman, and as the novel opens he is being rounded up and sent to Chengara Penitentiary.  It’s not immediately clear how personal his arrest is, as he seems to have been caught up in a generalised raid. However, it soon appears that even if he was arrested more or less by accident, he is most definitely of interest to the authorities. It takes quite a long time for the reader to find out why, because the story jumps back and forth in time – it’s maybe half way through the novel before the two timelines come together and we have a very clear idea of what’s happened to Avery and why.

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Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Orion

ISBN: 978-1-40-911353-9

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Although the idea underlying the plot of Fever Dream is interesting, the novel itself veers between melodramatic and lame (particularly the climax). In addition, it leaves the reader with a cliffhanger designed to draw you into the next novel, so at the end of the novel you find yourself with an incomplete, lame and melodramatic ending which is spectacularly unsatisfying.

The novel opens as Aloysius Pendergast and his wife Helen enjoy a hunting safari in Africa. Within pages Helen is dead, eaten by a lion as a hunt goes wrong. The novel jumps twelve years, to (now) Special Agent Pendergast unexpectedly discovering that it wasn’t a tragic accident; Helen was murdered. Pendergast enlists police lieutenant Vicent D’Agosta in an intense and bitter search for who murdered Helen – and why. Read the rest of this entry »

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