The Greater Good by Tim Ayliffe

Book blurb…

He had never killed anyone who hadn’t deserved it. The means always justified the end. He didn’t need forgiveness.He needed justification. The greater good.

Battered war correspondent John Bailey is a man living on the edge. He’s haunted by nightmares of being kidnapped and tortured in Iraq and he’s drinking too much to drown the memories. As he battles to get his life back together, a story breaks that will force him back into the spotlight – and into the crosshairs of a deadly international player.

When a beautiful prostitute is found murdered in her luxury Sydney apartment, Bailey is ordered to cover the story by The Journal’s editor and his old friend, Gerald Summers, because he can’t trust anyone else.

One of the victim’s clients, a key advisor to the Defence Minister, is chief suspect in her murder and he’s on the run. When he contacts Bailey, claiming to have information that will bring down the government, the stakes become deadly. To complicate matters,the investigating police detective is the woman Bailey walked out on a decade ago.

When a ruthless CIA fixer turns up, followed by a murderous Chinese agent hot on his trail, Bailey realises he has stumbled onto the story of a lifetime – one that he may not live to tell.

My thoughts…

I love a good Australian-based story with a mix of crime and politics. Throw in a frighteningly real plot line and a battered war correspondent battling PTSD and I am a happy reader!

A suffering character makes for great conflict in fiction and what John Bailey goes through will make you wonder and weep.

This story is intriguing and will keep you guessing who the bad guys are and how deep the corruption goes.

A good read. Highly recommended.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster (Australia)

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Theo by Amanda Prowse

Book blurb…

There are two sides to every love story. Anna Cole grew up in care, and wants to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants to find his soulmate. Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo. Each shows the other how to love. And each shows the other what heartbreak feels like. This is Theo’s story.

My thoughts…

Before reading Theo, I read Anna’s story and here are some words used for that review. (Unique and utterly addictive. I am so glad I got the opportunity to read Anna’s story. What a clever concept. I can’t wait to read Theo’s story.)

Well, I have now read Theo’s story and the same must be said about this sweet and cleverly plotted story that focuses on the male character’s point of view.

I admit to not reading a lot of single POV stories in the past. Normally I get multiple points of view in one book, giving me the chance to get to know/understand/feel for each of the characters portrayed.  Theo, and companion novel, Anna, was a different reading experience.  While I was completely invested in the character, Anna, while reading Anna (and ditto for Theo), when reading Theo’s story, I felt disconnected from Anna as a character (and visa verse with Theo in Anna’s story). This is not a criticism; more an observation – one aspiring authors who want to better understand the importance of POV might want to experience for themselves. Learn and enjoy at the same time.

I’m not sure why the author chose the two-book structure. (It would be a big story if combined and employing alternate POV, but I would have liked that very much.)

Of course, both books – Anna and Theo – are enjoyable reads for the very prolific Amanda Prowse.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Head of Zeus

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I, Witness by Niki Mackay

Book blurb…

Meet Madison Attalee: an ex-police officer turned Private Investigator who will stop at nothing to solve a case.

They say I’m a murderer.

Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was found holding the body of her best friend; covered in blood, and clutching the knife that killed her.

I plead guilty.

Kate has been in prison ever since, but now her sentence is up. She is being released.

But the truth is, I didn’t do it.

There’s only one person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attallee, the first officer on the scene all those years ago.

But there’s someone out there who doesn’t want Kate digging up the past. Someone who is willing to keep the truth buried at any cost.

My thoughts…

This gripping thriller hooked me straight up, adding strong characters and a plot line that escalates to a dramatic conclusion.

Madison Attalee, private investigator, is perfectly portrayed and brings this mystery to it’s sensational conclusion while dealing with her own issues.

Guessing who was good and who was evil was not easy. Well done.

All the characters had a purpose and the reader rewards were well placed within the plot, but guessing who was good and who was evil was not easy. Well done.

I felt for Kate and hated her brother and father. Family secrets did not help Kate at all.

There was a small theme of abuse in this story, however the more positive themes of happiness and freedom feature, making this an enjoyable read.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Orion

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Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate

Book blurb…

A horrific recurring nightmare is threatening to steal her sanity…

Dr Corinne Cabot is living the American dream. She’s a successful ER physician in Chicago who’s married to a handsome husband. Together they live in a charming house in the suburbs. But appearances can be deceiving – and what no one can see is Corinne’s dark past. Troubling gaps in her memory mean she recalls little about a haunting event in her life years ago that changed everything.

She only remembers being in the house the night two people were found murdered. Her father was there, too. Now her father is in prison; she hasn’t been in contact in years. Repressing that terrifying memory has caused Corinne moments of paranoia and panic. Sometimes she thinks she sees things that aren’t there, hears words that haven’t been spoken. Or have they? She fears she may be losing her mind, unable to determine what’s real and what’s not.

So when she senses her husband’s growing distance, she thinks she’s imagining things. She writes her suspicions off to fatigue, overwork, anything to explain what she can’t accept – that her life really isn’t what it seems.

My thoughts…

Totally absorbing, this compelling thriller has a dramatic conclusion.  I certainly felt for the main character, Corinne, but disliked her morally deprived husband, Jude.  I know that for the plot to play out Jude has to be portrayed a certain way, but he was weak and unlikable.

Without taking away from the author’s talent for storytelling, my personal opinion is that the story is unnecessarily explicit, sexually. I was not expecting this and if I’d paid money I would have been disappointed. Books need to come with a warning, especially with the ‘ ‘ and ‘ ‘ word are both used so freely.

I almost stopped reading because of it. Of course, it’s the author’s choice, but with some thought I’m sure there would have been other words/ways.

If you like thrillers and don’t mind sexually explicit scenes / language, then you might enjoy the clever plot line.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by HQ Fiction

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Her Greatest Mistake by Sarah Simpson

Book blurb…

DO WE EVER KNOW WHAT GOES ON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS?

Eve and Gregg were the perfect couple, with the perfect marriage… which has become the perfect lie. Gone is the charming, attentive Gregg – instead Eve wakes up each morning beside a manipulative and sinister man who controls his wife’s every move.

So Eve flees her immaculate marital home to keep herself, and young son Jack safe. Yet no matter how careful she has been, she knows Gregg will be relentless in his pursuit of his missing family. And that one day, when she’s least expecting it, he will find them…

What was Eve’s greatest mistake?

Marrying Gregg? Leaving him? Or leaving him alive…?

My thoughts…

The opening pages of a book will generally tell me if I want to keep reading and I admit when I started this book I was unsure if I would like the writing style.  How easy is it to be wrong!

This story quickly hooked me, and I had trouble putting it down. (And as I get used to the sentence structure.) I’d even wake up in the night and flip open the Kindle to read a bit more.

The domestic abuse theme is sometimes harrowing. The author’s portrayal disturbingly authentic.  Congratulations on a well-crafted, emotionally challenging debut novel. Certainly, one for the 2018 to-be-read pile, if only to experience the resilience and determination of the main character.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Head of Zeus

 

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Killer Intent by Tony Kent

Book blurb…

Britain’s elite security forces seem powerless when an audacious attempt is made to assassinate a former US president in London. This becomes the spark which ignites a chain reaction of explosive events that will see old political sympathies rekindled and personal loyalties betrayed.
Joe Dempsey, a deadly military intelligence officer who witnesses this botched assassination, soon realises that this is just one small part of a complex and dark conspiracy, and only he can stop it. The fallout draws both Dempsey and CNN reporter Sarah Truman into parallel investigations, each compelled to discover the sinister truth behind these violent events. All too quickly they are running out of time as the future of the British government is crumbling. Thrown into these events is Michael Devlin, a Belfast-born criminal barrister with a secret past.

It’s a life or death race against the clock. Dempsey, Devlin and Truman are forced to work in the shadows and call on forgotten loyalties before a lethal showdown presents a devastating finale.

Killer Intent is the first novel to feature deadly military intelligence officer Joe Dempsey, Irish barrister Michael Devlin and American TV reporter Sarah Truman, in a compelling new series from high-profile barrister Tony Kent.

My thoughts…

This is a complex plot involving acts of both good and evil.  I was wrapped up in the story from the beginning and felt for characters, Sarah and Michael, who find themselves on a collision course with evil.

A story mixed up with politics, greed and loyalty, the plot cleverly trickles clues as to who is behind the evil.

On this occasion I did figure out who the bad guy was, but I was so invested in the story it didn’t matter? I was happy to go with the flow with this one. Fabulous!. Thank you.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

Book blurb…

A breathtaking debut about love and war, and the battle to save a precious legacy

Each lace shawl begins and ends the same way – with a circle. Everything is connected with a thread as fine as gossamer, each life affected by what has come before it and what will come after. 

1941, Estonia. As Stalin’s brutal Red Army crushes everything in its path, Katarina and her family survive only because their precious farm produce is needed to feed the occupying forces.

Fiercely partisan, Katarina battles to protect her grandmother’s precious legacy – the weaving of gossamer lace shawls stitched with intricate patterns that tell the stories passed down through generations.

While Katarina struggles to survive the daily oppression, another young woman is suffocating in her prison of privilege in Moscow. Yearning for freedom and to discover her beloved mother’s Baltic heritage, Lydia escapes to Estonia.

Facing the threat of invasion by Hitler’s encroaching Third Reich, Katarina and Lydia and two idealistic young soldiers, insurgents in the battle for their homeland, find themselves in a fight for life, liberty and love.

My thoughts…

I was drawn to this story by the time period, the setting, the title and the fact everyone was talking about it. And, wow! It so lived up to the hype.

What an amazing debut novel and by an Australian author. I am in awe of the talent in this country. This is one story worthy of a world-wide audience. There is something to learn and a lot to love about The Lace Weaver.

The author has woven an evocative and soul-searching plot and the shawl motif woven throughout a story that explores love, family and friendship and the tragedy of war, is both clever and beautifully done.

I had such a strong connection to every character and felt their pride and their heartache.

A must read that goes to the top of my list for 2018. Well done Lauren Chater, I look forward to your next story.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

Book blurb…

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out?

It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

My thoughts…

In the book blurb the words “beautiful and devastating” are used to describe this novel and they certainly sum up the story for me.

Gilda’s life is so pathetically sad there were times I did not want to read on.  I remain unsure who should hold the responsibility for the misery both Gilda and her son experience, but if not for Reubin’s wife, Alice, both the main characters lives would have been lost to each other. And that would have been even sadder.

While far from a ‘happy’ story, the novel is well written and plotted, the characters well-described and certainly evoked emotions for me as the reader.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette

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The Secrets We Keep by Shirley Patton

Book blurb…

A mother’s secret, a father’s betrayal, a town on the edge…

When social worker Aimee arrives in the mining town of Kalgoorlie, she is ready for a fresh start. Her colleagues Lori and Paddy seem friendly, and she is also drawn to one of her cases: the Steele family, whose future looks particularly bleak. But Aimee has a dark secret and as the past reaches out towards her once more, she realises that somehow her secret is connected to this unfamiliar but harshly beautiful town and its inhabitants.

As she strengthens her ties with the  local community — especially with the vibrant Lori, stoical Kerry and wise Agnes — she finds herself questioning earlier decisions. Can she reveal her secret, even if it is not hers alone to share?

A compelling novel of the transcendental love of children and the truth’s unwillingness to stay hidden.

My thoughts…

The Secrets We Keep, by Aussie author Shirley Patton, explores friendship and love and the heartache that both can bring.

As the title suggests, there is a big secret at the heart of this story. The narration is detailed, telling of the lives of each character, including their flaws and strengths, and the author also describes the harshness of the local environment with the colour a place like Kalgoolie (outback WA) deserves.

I found the clairvoyant skills of two of the characters to be interesting plot device, especially in one scene where the skill is particularly useful in helping Kerry during her time of need.

The story explored the issues surrounding gold mining in the Kalgoorlie region and the government bureaucracy of a small town.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women Writers Challenge

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Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Book blurb…

The police say it was suicide.

Anna says it was murder.

They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .

My thoughts…

You won’t see this twist coming. Let Me Lie is a great read that will play with both your mind and your beliefs.

This novel is the kind that is better if you stop to digest the story bit by bit. Not for skimmers! You don’t want to miss the detail. It will make the twist at the end sweeter.

The main character, Anna, has a lot going on in her life.  She has a newborn, her family home at risk from the neighbour’s proposed extensions, and she’s suffering the loss of both parents in separate and tragic circumstances.  If this isn’t enough, she is dealing with questions about how her parents died.

Crucial to the narration is the inclusion of an ex police officer whose job it is to unravel the facts from the past.  I really liked that the author included a backstory for Murray. It’s a sad one but beautifully woven into the plot to ensure Anna gets the closure she needs to move forward.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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