Book Review: The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

Synopsis

Winner of the inaugural Allen & Unwin Crime Prize.

‘So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?’ Jane’s voice took on an indignant pitch. ‘Girls lie sometimes.’ I nodded. ‘And rapists lie all the time.’

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she’d requested a transfer to the quiet town she’d grown up in.

But there are some things you can’t run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn’t believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real – and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

My Review

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis is a fast-paced chilling story about small town secrets.

Senior Detective Antigone Pollard has escaped from Melbourne to the small coastal town of Deception Bay after a rape case went horribly wrong. Almost as soon as she arrives, she is exposed to a group of drink spikers responsible for a spate of sexual assaults in the area and is determined to get to the bottom of who is responsible. What she didn’t expect is the wall of denial and fear that she must encounter at every turn – even from her boss.

I’ve long been a fan of Vikki Petraitis’s true crime books and podcasts and I enjoyed her first fiction novel just as much. She’s expertly woven in facts with fiction to create this important and timely story about how difficult it is to get true justice in sexual assault cases.

I loved Antigone’s tough no-nonsense exterior, even while she was under such an incredible amount of pressure. She had a lot of depth as a character and I think that the first person narrative was an excellent choice for this story as it allowed for more of Antigone’s thoughts and feelings to be explored. She might have been a bit too much of a strong female stereotype if her vulnerabilities weren’t revealed throughout the story this way.

The supporting cast of characters were also well-rounded. I particularly enjoyed her somewhat bumbling, but well intentioned, partner Wozza and Pip was a delightful surprise. Waffles the failed police dog was my favourite though!

I thoroughly enjoyed The Unbelieved and am looking forward to reading more!

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my review copy.

Title: The Unbelieved

Author: Vikki Petraitis

Published: Allen & Unwin 02 Aug 2022

Pages: 384

RRP: $32.99 AUD

Source: Publisher

Goodreads: The Unbelieved

Book review: Scrublands by Chris Hammer

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Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Blurb

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself. A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage. Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal. Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried. A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page.

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Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Review

Scrublands opens with a tense scene that pulls you straight into the mystery at the heart of the novel. We are shown how the young dedicated priest of the drought-plagued town of Riversend methodically shoots five of his parishioners before turning the gun on himself, but we aren’t told why he would do that.

One year after the tragedy troubled journalist Martin Scarsdale arrives in Riversend to write a feature on how the town is coping now. It seems as though the reasoning behind the priest’s crime had already been revealed by one of Marin’s colleagues but as he gets to know the town and its inhabitants Martin discovers that there is far more to this story than he ever could have imagined.

The further Martin digs into this story, the more entangled he becomes with the weird and wonderful townsfolk of Riversend, including a romance. He eventually breaks the cardinal rule of journalism and becomes the story himself and this puts his job, his budding relationship, and even his life in danger but he is in so deep by then that he feels as though he has no choice but to see things through to the bitter end.

I loved the drought-stricken bush setting of this book and you can almost feel the heat radiating off the book while you hold it. The author has accurately conveyed the dry heavy heat of the Australian bush during droughts, as well as all the weird ways that it can affect the people who live there. I read this book over the cold winter months of lockdown in Melbourne and the way that the heat was described had me dreaming of long road trips I’ve been on in the past through towns just like Riversend.

I also found the why-dunnit mysteries and plot twists fascinating, but like other reviewers, felt that it was perhaps a little bit too convoluted at times and this meant that there was a lot of catching up and explaining to do towards the end.

Scrublands is a must-read for crime fiction fans and one of the stand out additions to the bush noir subgenre of books set in drought-stricken Australian country towns. Hammer has skilfully connected the scorching heat of the Australian bush with dark and desperate characters and I will definitely be adding his latest books to my never-ending TBR pile.

Details

Published: Published July 25th 2018 by Allen & Unwin

Source: Own copy

Read: Paperback, September 2020

Pages: 496

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads

About the author

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Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer is a leading Australian crime fiction novelist, author of international bestsellers Scrublands and Silver.

His new book, Trust, will be published in Australia and New Zealand in October 2020 and internationally from early 2021.

Scrublands was an instant bestseller upon publication in 2018, topping the Australian fiction charts.

In Australia, it was shortlisted for the 2019 ABIA, Indies and NSW Premier’s awards ; in the UK it was named the Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Year 2019 and won the prestigious UK Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award; in the US it is shortlisted for both the Barry and the Strand Magazine awards for debut crime fiction.

Silver, also featuring journalist Martin Scarsden and his partner Mandalay Blonde, was shortlisted for the ABIA and Booksellers Choice Awards and longlisted for the UK CWA Gold Dagger.

Before turning to fiction, Chris was a journalist for more than thirty years. He reported from more than 30 countries on six continents for SBS TV. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, senior writer for The Age and Online Political Editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Chris has written two non-fiction books The River (2010) and The Coast (2012), published by Melbourne University Press.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in International Relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra, Australia.

Book Review: The Nancys by R.W.R McDonald

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The Nancys book cover

Blurb

The Nancys is adult crime fiction in the tradition of a whodunit murder mystery, except all the characters are completely out of control and pay no attention to any rules.

TIPPY CHAN is eleven and lives in Riverstone, a two pub town in South Otago, New Zealand. The same town her UNCLE PIKE escaped from when he was a teenager. Tippy loves her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early versions where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery.

Tippy’s chance comes when her mum goes on holiday, leaving Uncle Pike and his new boyfriend, DEVON, in charge. When her teacher turns up dead beside the small town’s only traffic light Tippy teams up with her babysitters to form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs in to a risky investigation. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the killer, and an intervention from Tippy’s Mum all conspire against The Nancys. While the town grieves everyone believes the police have caught the killer, including Tippy’s mum. It is up to The Nancys to go against the flow, as well as questionable interior design and fashion choices, to solve the mystery before anyone else dies.

The Nancys is a book for anyone who’s ever felt outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and the courage required to tell the truth, no matter what the cost.

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The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

My Review

The Nancys is an adult murder mystery inspired by the classic Nancy Drew books, but it’s so much more than that. It also explores complex themes about outsiders, the family we choose, courage and the importance of telling the truth.

Eleven-year-old Tippy Chan is still grieving for her father when her Uncle Pike and his fashion designer boyfriend Devon arrive from Sydney to care for her while she goes on a cruise. Tippy and her mother still live in the same house in the small two pub town of Riverstone New Zealand that Pike escaped from as a teenager, so his return inevitably brings up ghosts from his past. I grew up in small-town myself, so I could definitely relate to Pike’s uncomfortable experiences bumping into ex-boyfriends and old nemeses and all of the weird feelings that can bring up!

When Tippy’s friend falls off a bridge in mysterious circumstances and then her teacher is gruesomely murdered Pike, Devon and Tippy form a club inspired by Nancy Drew to investigate. Using Pike’s network of old contacts, Tippy’s keen sense of observation, and Devon’s fashion sense, The Nancys seem to be getting close to cracking the case. The only problem is making sure they discover who did it before anybody else gets hurt … or Tippy’s mum puts a stop to their investigation.

I loved this book! It’s in a similar format to a classic Nancy Drew mystery, but it also has so much warmth and heart. I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books too when I was around Tippy’s age, and I think The Nancys absolutely did them justice. Nancy Drew really is a bit of style icon and I agree that the older books are the best.

I loved the close relationship between Pike and Tippy and the way he helped her and her mother deal with the death of Tippy’s father. Pike and Devon’s relationship was full of crude humour and in-jokes but I have a good feeling that their relationship will last longer than Pike’s previous relationship record of three months … I will hopefully find out the answer to that in the sequel coming out soon!

About the Author

 

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R.W.R. McDonald author photo

Rob McDonald is a Kiwi living in Melbourne with his two daughters and an extended rainbow family including HarryCat and Stevie Nicks the chicken. Rob realised while studying journalism that writing fiction, rather than reporting facts, was his true bent.

The Nancys is being published by Allen and Unwin with a release date June 2019. This is his first novel.

Rob is a 2016 alumnus of Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel Stage 1 and 2 where he worked on his manuscript The Nancys. In 2017 The Nancys was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Outside of writing Rob works in international education.

Details

Published:  June 3rd 2019 by Allen & Unwin

Source: Own copy

Read: Kindle Edition, July 2020

Pages: 316

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2XiwMi4

Apple: https://apple.co/2KMQh0D

Google: http://bit.ly/2GkccXG

Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2PhmuMm

 

New Book Release: Broken by Don Winslow

‘Is there any doubt that Don Winslow is the greatest?’ New York Times

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Broken by Don Winslow

In five intense novellas connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, heart-stopping, heartbreaking best. In Broken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.

With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction.

PRAISE FOR DON WINSLOW:

‘He’s a master’ Michael Connelly

‘One of the best in the field … a writer for whom nuance and multiple levels are articles of faith’ Independent

‘Winslow’s the best’ Stephen King

‘You should try to get your hands on everything Winslow’s written, because he’s one of the best thriller writers on the planet’ Esquire

Broken by Don Winslow

Published: 6 April 2020

Imprint: HarperCollins

Format: Paperback; RRP: $32.99; ISBN: 9781460758786

eBook available

Don Winslow is the author of twenty-one acclaimed, award-winning international bestsellers, including the New York Times bestseller and sensation The Force, the #1 international bestseller The CartelThe Power of the DogSavages, and The Winter of Frankie MachineSavages was made into a major film by three-time Oscar-winning writer-director Oliver Stone. The Power of the DogThe Cartel and The Border sold to FX in a major multi-million-dollar deal to air as a weekly TV series beginning in 2020. A former investigator, anti-terrorist trainer and trial consultant, Winslow lives in California and Rhode Island.

Book Review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Cormac Reilly #3)

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

“Sometimes to fix the law you have to break it”

Blurb

The unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Ruin and The Scholar.

Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected things that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

My Review

The Good Turn is the ripping third novel of the Irish Detective Cormac Rielly series by Dervla McTiernan.

My favourite  brooding Irish detective with a heart of gold, Cormac Reilly, is still facing serious issues caused by bitter office politics and corruption in the police force. While Cormac is fighting for his own job, young Garda Peter Fisher is forced to leave Galway  amid controversy and work in the sleepy town of Roundstone with his  father.

What I love about the entire Cormac Reilly series is the focus on the office politics, the relationships between the police officers, and the people they deal with. Of course they do use modern technology to help them solve crimes, but most of the focus is on the people and their interactions; most of the crimes are solved by asking the right questions and good old fashioned detective work.

Like the rest of the series, The Good Turn is a character driven novel. I found myself falling in love with the people of Roundstone and, as always, hoping that Cormac would manage to solve the crime and live to fight another day, but not being sure how he was going to pull that off this time until the very end. I also like the way that Cormac is always a major player in the novels, but he can also play a bit of background role at times, so that the reader can become immersed in the other character’s lives.

5 stars!

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

 

Details

Author: Dervla McTiernan

Published: February 24th 2020 by HarperCollins – AU

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 400 pages, February 2020

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan coming soon in 2020

I can’t wait to read the next installment of Dervla McTiernan’s Detective Cormac Reilly mystery series, The Good Turn. Coming to a bookshop near you in 2020!

‘With her third novel Dervla McTiernan confirms she’s a born storyteller’
Val McDermid

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan book cover

Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the biggest names in crime fiction, with both The Rúin and The Scholar garnering critical acclaim around the world and over 130,000 copies of McTiernan’s books sold in in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2020, McTiernan returns with her third Detective Cormac Reilly mystery, The Good Turn. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter
Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone. For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Dervla McTiernan 

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, was published in 2018 and went on to become a huge international success, receiving rave reviews from both critics and readers. The Rúin, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel and the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original. It was shortlisted in two categories for the 2018 Irish Book Awards, for the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards, and longlisted for the 2019 Indie Awards. Screen rights for The Rúin have been snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch. Dervla’s second novel, The Scholar, debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, confirming her place as one of Australia’s best crime writers. Detective Cormac Reilly and his team have become firm favourites amongst readers and the crime fiction community, with Val McDermid, Don Winslow, Candice Fox, Jane Casey and Chris Hammer all devoted fans of McTiernan’s writing.

Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis, she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla now writes full-time.

For more information, please visit https://dervlamctiernan.com/

Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan

My #BookReview of the atmospheric psychological suspense novel THE BOY AT THE DOOR by Alex Dahl @alexdahlauthor

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THE BOY AT THE DOOR by Alex Dahl

Goodreads Description

This riveting psychological suspense debut by Alex Dahl asks the question, “how far would you go to hold on to what you have?”

Cecilia Wilborg has it all–a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a gorgeous home in an affluent Norwegian suburb. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard…

There is no room for mistakes in her life. Even taking home a little boy whose parents forgot to pick him up at the pool can put a crimp in Cecilia’s carefully planned schedule. Especially when she arrives at the address she was given
and finds an empty, abandoned house…

There’s nothing for Cecilia to do but to take the boy home with her, never realizing that soon his quiet presence and knowing eyes will trigger unwelcome memories from her past–and unravel her meticulously crafted life…

My Review 

“What would you do for the perfect life? Would you lie? Cheat? Or…kill?”

THE BOY AT THE DOOR by debut author Alex Dahl is full of atmospheric Nordic suspense that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Cecilia Wilborg has the perfect life with her handsome husband and two gorgeous daughters in the picturesque Norwegian town of Sandefjord. When the tiny and abandoned 8 year old Tobias needs a place to stay Cecilia’s perfect life slowly begins to unravel before her very eyes.

THE BOY AT THE DOOR is a brilliantly twisty and turny debut from half-American, half-Norwegian Dahl. There were a couple of times that I did need to suspend disbelief, such as the explanation for how Tobias came to stay in the Wilborg home for such an extended period, but once I decided to go with it I was too caught up with the mystery and suspense to worry about it.

I loved the first person narrative style, particularly from Cecilia’s perspective. She really did begin the novel as the perfect rich bitchy Mummy type and brilliantly descended further into madness as the novel progressed. I particularly loved the scene where she threw a champagne bottle at some of her frenemies!

A delightfully suspenseful debut and I’ll be looking forward to reading more from Alex Dahl.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

About the Author

 

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Alex Dahl

Half American, half Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a BA in Russian and German Linguistics with International studies and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an MSc in Business Management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the UK and the US as well as a novel, Before I Leave You, in Norway in 2013. Alexandra is a serious Francophile and currently lives between London and Sandefjord.

Sandefjord is the setting of Alex’s new novel, The Boy at the Door, a brilliant psychological thriller which has already attracted worldwide interest and book deals in UK, USA, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Czech Republic and Sweden.

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