Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Beautifully written crime thriller missing

When Edith Hind suddenly disappears the police immediately treat her case as high priority. Her father, Sir Ian Hind, is a prestigious doctor with connections to the royal family and politicians so they don’t want to stuff this one up. Missing, Presumed is told from the perspectives of Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw, Edith’s mother, Detective Constable Davy Walker and Edith’s best friend, Helena.  Through the multiple points of view, we are able to see the effect a missing person case has on everyone involved, both the police investigating and the family and friends who are going out of their minds with worry.

I really enjoyed reading this novel from the multiple points of view. This allowed far greater character development than you normally find in crime thrillers. Steiner did a brilliant job of bringing each character to life and I enjoyed finding out more about each character by reading about them through the eyes of the other people they interact with.

This novel is also beautifully written. It is a bit of slow-boil thriller, but it is definitely worth the wait because by the time I got to the twists and final reveal I felt like I was reading about people I knew intimately. Add this one to your TBR list if you like crime thrillers with the depth and observation of literary fiction.


Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.

A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her.


Title: Missing, Presumed

Author: Susie Steiner

Published: 1 March 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780008123284

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Literary Fiction

Pages: 400

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Title: Daughter  daughter

Author: Jane Shemilt

ISBN: 9781405916516

Published: Published August 28th 2014 by Penguin

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 392

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My Thoughts:

Jenny Malcolm thinks she has the perfect life until the day that her beloved fifteen year old daughter, Naomi, goes missing. Jenny has the perfect career as a GP, a perfect neurologist husband and three perfect children and prides herself on managing it all without any dramas. Then one evening Naomi heads off to perform in her school play, never to return again. During the course of the year long investigation to find Naomi, Jenny’s entire perfect life begins to unravel before her very eyes and she discovers that she doesn’t know any of her family members quite as well as she thought she did.

While I thought Jane Shemilt’s writing was superb, particularly for a debut author, I found Daughter to be a little bit slow in parts for my liking. It went between the time when Naomi went missing and 12 months after and I found the chapters set 12 months after were perhaps a little bit drawn out. I would have enjoyed hearing from some of the other character’s point of view as well, I think it would have added to the story to hear from them.

I thought Jenny was a difficult character to sympathise with, despite the fact that she went through such an awful time. She seemed so disinterested in her children and husband throughout the entire novel, almost as though she just wanted them to be the perfect accessories for her perfect life. I’m not saying that women can’t have great careers as well as children or that teenagers should have absolutely no secrets from their parents, but you do need to make the most of the time that you do get to spend with them and perhaps answer your children’s phone calls occasionally.

The twists and turns of Daughter definitely kept me guessing. Everybody in the Malcolm family had their own secrets which were gradually revealed throughout the course of the novel. I’m not too sure how I feel about the ending, but I certainly didn’t see it coming.



Book Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey

Title: 22930198Amnesia

Author: Peter Carey

Published: Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 1926428609

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller

Pages: 385

My Rating: 4/5

Description (from Goodreads):

It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22.00 Greenwich Mean Time when a worm entered the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons and released the locks in many places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.

Because Australian prison security was, in the year 2010, mostly designed and sold by American corporations the worm immediately infected 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1,700 prisons, and over 3,000 county jails. Wherever it went, it traveled underground, in darkness, like a bushfire burning in the roots of trees. Reaching its destinations it announced itself: THE CORPORATION IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. THE ANGEL DECLARES YOU FREE.

Has a young Australian woman declared cyber war on the United States? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies? Did America suffer collateral damage? Is she innocent? Can she be saved?

Peter Carey’s masterful new novel, AMNESIA.

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amnesia by Peter Carey was not quite what I expected from the blurb, it was so much better. Rather than simply telling us the story of how an Australian hacker ‘Fallen Angel’/Gaby Baillieux hacked Australian prison systems to release detainees, Carey delves deep into Gaby’s and Australia’s political history to explain why a girl from Melbourne would decide to become a ‘hacktivist’ in the first place. The premise of the novel and inspiration for the name comes from the idea that America has at times been a bit of a bully towards Australia and Australians seem to just forget about it.

Gaby is accused of infiltrating the Australian prison system to release immigrants who have been detained in Australia which also inadvertently affects many American systems. The American government sees this as an act of terror and immediately demands that Gaby is extradited to face terrorism charges there. Peter Carey says that he drew inspiration for Amnesia from the Julian Assange case when he discovered that Assange’s mother was a Labor supporter (lefty) in Australia during the 70’s and began pondering the implications that this might have had on his political motivations. Read the interview in The Australian here.

Amnesia is told through the eyes of Felix Moore, a journalist and long time Labor supporter, who has recently been disgraced for falsifying stories. His career is effectively over and his marriage is on the rocks when he is offered the opportunity to write Gaby’s biography in an attempt to proclaim her innocence.

Gaby is the child of an actress and a Labor minister. During her teen years she is exposed to some very radical Labor followers and falls in love with a hacker who teaches her all of his tricks. This combination means that she is almost destined to become a political activist.

Carey discusses real historical events to describe the ongoing relationship between Australia and America, particularly the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in 1975 by the Governor General. The history books provide a number of factors that contributed to Whitlam’s dismissal, but in Amnesia, Carey claims that the CIA was behind it due to Whitlam attempting to take control of ASIO (Australia’s version of the CIA) and threatening to cease the agreement for the American army base at Pine Gap.

I’m not too sure on my thoughts about Carey’s claims but I do agree that Whitlam was an extremely radical prime minister and I can easily imagine that his policies would have threatened a lot of politicians, so I can believe that many politicians at the time would have wanted him gone. Some of Whitlam’s notable achievements while he was in office include the termination of military conscription (another factor that would have gotten him offside with the American government I would imagine,)  institution of universal healthcare and free university education. As a side note, I find it extremely hypocritical that the politicians who are currently campaigning so vigorously to increase Australian university fees didn’t pay a cent for their educations thanks to Whitlam. I wonder if they would be so determined if they were asked to pay for their fees retrospectively?

I feel that Amnesia was published at a perfect time for me as I am currently studying a news and politics subject and it certainly gave me cause to ponder many issues from a different perspective. I also loved the many references to Melbourne suburbs and landmarks, although people from outside of Australia may find them a bit confusing or irrelevant. Amnesia was a thought provoking and extremely well written novel and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Australian history. Even if you are well versed on Australian history you will find yourself thinking about events in different ways and if you aren’t you will most likely be inspired to find out more as I was.

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Book Review: Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Title: Gray MountainGray Mountain

Author: John Grisham

ISBN: 9780385537148

Published:  October 2014, Doubleday

My Rating: 3/5


The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that I did find this book tough going at times. Its quite long and there are a few parts that were a bit long winded and dull. I don’t think it helped that I found the main character Samantha a little bit boring and difficult to relate to. She’s a big city lawyer who has never seen the inside of a court room until she is put on furlough and told to take up an unpaid internship in Brady, Virginia. Once there she discovers that poor people need lawyers too and just how evil coal mining companys can be. I was shocked! Note: This may be sarcasm 😉

Gray Mountain just didn’t seem to be as fast paced as John Grisham’s other court room novels which I have really enjoyed in the past such as The Firm or The Pelican Brief but I appreciated the fact that it highlighted the some of the serious issues that have come about due to coal mining.

Readers who enjoy legal thrillers or reading about environmental issues will enjoy this book.

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Book Review: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

Title: Dying For Christmas dyingforchristmas

Author: Tammy Cohen

ISBN: 9781784160173

Published: November, Transworld Publishers, Random House UK

My Rating: 4/5


I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

My Thoughts:

Dying For Christmas is another Christmas themed book that I read as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge but this is definitely not your typical Christmas themed book.

Jessica has been kidnapped and help captive by a handsome psychopath for the 12 days of Christmas. She is a fascinating character, a little bit ‘weird’ but completely relate able.

Domenic Lacey is one of the creepiest ‘bad guys’ that I have ever come across. He is handsome, charming and well off on the outside and a complete psychopath on the inside. Once he begins to reveal details about his childhood you almost start to feel a bit sorry for him.

The book is also narrated from the perspective of Kim, the policewoman who is investigating Jessica’s disappearance. Kim has problems of her own. She feels that she is being forced to choose between her career and her family but she thinks that she should be able to have both.

Dying For Christmas was fascinating to read, full of plot twists and really interesting characters. I had to read this in one sitting since I needed to find out what happened in the end! I recommend Dying For Christmas for anyone who enjoys the thriller/mystery genres or anybody looking for a Christmas themed book with a difference.

Editing to add that the author Tammy Cohen is absolutely lovely. Add this one to your to read list!

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