Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Five mysteries to savour

Curl up with one of these clever crime novels as the Autumn chill sets in …

Mortimer amuses

If you like Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club Mystery Series then grab yourself The Satsuma Complex a cosy new crime novel from renowned British comedian Bob Mortimer.

Mortimer brings his quirky humour and gentle humanity to his debut, which features Gary Thorn, an unremarkable thirty-year-old London-based legal assistant who gets tangled in a plot centring around an encrypted USB stick, police corruption and a work acquaintance’s untimely death. Gary reveals some good-humoured self-awareness in relating with a woman called Emily, his neighbour Grace and a squirrel. Fun.

McTiernan thrills

The Ruin, The Scholar, and The Good Turn confirmed Dervla McTiernan’s place as one of Australia’s best crime writers. The Murder Rule cements this reputation with its a twisty, suspenseful plot and shifty protagonist Hannah Rokeby who’s wheedled her way on to the team of The University of Virginia’s Innocence Project – a pro bono clinic that seeks exoneration for wrongfully convicted people. The novel weaves together dual perspectives – Hannah’s in 2019 as she works for the project, and her mother’s diary from 1994 – to a chilling conclusion.

McKenzie is masterful

If you lived through recent floods in Australia, the gripping opening chapter of The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie, will bring back visions or give you insights into what it must have been like. In Northern New South Wales, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is investigating a violent hold-up at a local fast-food restaurant and the case of a man drowned in the floodwaters. She’s smart and vulnerable. McKenzie’s pitch-perfect police procedural made me grab her newer Kate Miles’ offering Taken straight away.

O’Connor clinches it

The accents drew me into the audiobook of Inishowen and then the melancholy intertwining of Inspector Martin Aitken’s and Ellen Donnelly’s destinies clinched the deal (even though some of the scenes involving Ellen’s philandering husband were farfetched). Ellen goes to the Irish town of Inishowen provoked by a cancer diagnosis and a desire to find her mother; Martin is prompted by a Christmas alone grieving for his dead son; and Ellen’s husband to get her back. Author Joseph O’Connor ensures the criminal gets his comeuppance at the end.

Scrivenor runs deep

Hayley Scrivenor’s debut Dirt Town is compelling. Shifting narrators reveal the connections and resentments simmering beneath the surface of a small, regional Australian town rocked by the disappearance of 12-year-old Esther. Her friends Ronnie and Lewis are perceptive as they battle shame, fear and the bad behaviour of too many adults. Their grief is also palpable. Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels enters the town grappling with its sexism, insularity and her own private disgrace; a painful reminder anyone can commit a crime. “Things happen, and anyone could end up there.”

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