Every Time He Dies by Tara East

Published: 5th November 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self-Published
Pages: 477
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal/Crime
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Daphne Lawrence is haunted. Two years ago, her fiancé died in a terrible accident, her mother passed away from cancer and she stopped speaking to her father. As an embalmer, Daff is used to the company of dead people, but she isn’t used to them talking back. In fact, Daff isn’t used to anything that could be considered woo-woo including, but not limited to: psychics, crystal, meditation, tarot cards, vision quests and coincidences. Too bad that’s everything she’s experiencing.

Daff is forced to confront her own long ignored grief when she discovers a haunted watch buried in the sand at Golden Beach. The problem is, her ghost has no memory of his former life or how he died.

As Daff seeks to discover the spectre’s identity, dangerous truths and hidden secrets are revealed. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of an on-going homicide investigation led by Detective Sergeant Jon Lawrence, her father. A story about grief, time and identity, Every Time He Dies will leave you wondering whether our dearly beloveds ever really depart.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

East has created a captivating and engaging story that brings together humour, love, family, and a little bit of the unknown. Told from dual perspectives we get to see Daphne’s life and the perspective of her estranged father, Detective Lawrence, on the cusp of his retirement from the force with an ongoing battle against old adversaries. Daphne on the other hand, is still coming to terms with, and in a way running from, her own grief after her fiancé Tom dies.

The structure of the story is done incredibly well because East leads us into the story providing detailed yet simple backgrounds about characters and situations, but then also throws us into the unexpected and uses these new situations to slowly pull out further detail making a well-rounded and beautifully complicated story.

I loved how we are introduced to this new phenomenon of Daphne’s and her realisation she can see a ghost. That first encounter was wonderful and the ideal draw card to get you intrigued into the supernatural aspect of this story and with a realism and humour that stays through the whole narrative. East’s descriptions are vivid and I could picture every scene as if it were playing out in front of me. From the start I fell comfortably into this narrative and it felt believable, even with the supernatural elements East anchors it in reality and possibility with a touch of the unknown but ever possible.

The characters are complicated and have deep personal issues and worries but East balances it perfectly and while there are ongoing references and emotional moments, it never felt over the top or overly dramatic. The emotions of these characters comes and goes at natural intervals, often with realistic and believable prompts and it is a great example how the death of a loved one never really leaves you no matter how much time has passed.

The dialogue is natural which was a huge plus for me. There is emotion and frustration, cheek and humour but it felt like conversations people actually had. The voices were great too because they are distinct and each character became their own person. One thing that impressed me was that East captures the detective voice so well without being stereotypical and cleverly manages to shift it between policeman and father and still make it feel like the same person. I believed Lawrence to be an aging cop, on the brink of retirement, still wanting to do his job but also able to see how much things have changed in his time on the force.

I liked Daff as a character too. She was grieving but trying to push the pain down, and East shows us the hurt is still there but she also wants to move on with her life. Even Liam who didn’t remember his own name or who had no memory of his life was a character of depth. I fell in love with him almost immediately and he and Daphne make a great pair. His personality shone through and his interactions with Daphne were some of my favourite parts of the story.

I loved this story from start to finish; East grabs your attention straight away with one storyline but then manages to pull you in further and hooks you with two others. It is most definitely a story about love and family, but it’s also about ghosts and the mystical and a fascinating police procedural with bikies and murder which becomes wonderfully and complicatedly intertwined as these things often do.

You can purchase Every Time He Dies via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Published: 23rd October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Macmillan Australia
Pages: 362
Format: Paperback
Genre: Crime
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

This is definitely my new favourite Jane Harper book. From the start I was immediately pulled in, the voice and tone drew me in and I wanted to stay in this story and keep reading.

Nathan doesn’t set out the solve the mystery of his brother’s death, but a few things don’t sit right with him and little by little he tries to fill in the gaps. This is not a police procedural story however, the focus is on trying to come to terms with his brother’s death and while the family wonder about what happened to him, it is also about getting through the grief together.

Harper hints at secrets and events, baits us into keep reading and honestly it works. Not quite so much to get answers, the anomalies are not followed up like a detective would, but the tone feels so comfortable that you want to keep following this narrative. She lays down clues and hints that you don’t even realise long before but at the same time once she has planted a seed the tone shifts and a whole other component is explored. It never felt out of place, or unconnected, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how she mixed everything together so seamlessly, never breaking from the flow of the story. She doesn’t focus constantly on speaking in riddles, she gets on with the story while making well placed and relevant hints about characters throughout which could easily mean nothing as they could everything.

Harper captures the outback environment brilliantly without resorting to long details and descriptions. She uses the characters and the story itself to reflect the harshness of the land and the dangers it holds. One great surprise was the blink and you miss it reference to some familiar faces from Harper’s debut novel, The Dry. I enjoyed the connection to the two stories but Harper also uses it to add an entire new layer to the characters as well.

I loved being in this story and I loved everything about this story. I loved these characters and their honesty and their secrets. I loved Nathan and his fractured, broken self but still with a strong family commitment buried deep inside. His character is one of honesty but also one of damaged resilience. Harper could have gone so many different ways with his personality but she dances on the edge of the line skilfully instead of making him cross it which I adored.

People are right when they say this is Harper’s best book to date because there is a comfortableness about this book, but it is one that still contains mystery and heartache, and complications that don’t overwhelm one another but coexist side by side remarkably, balanced back and forth as the story progresses.

You can purchase The Lost Man via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Published: 8th February 2018 (print) / 1st March 2018 (audio)Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Raven Book / Bolinda/Audible
Pages: 512 / 16 hrs and 41 mins
Narrator: Jot Davies
Format:
 Audio
Genre: Historical/Crime
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

I loved this book. I loved that I was confused, intrigued, amazed, perplexed. I loved that my brain nearly short circuited as I tried to get my head around what I knew, what clues I should be picking up on, weaving together this story told in fractures and out of order and yet happening all at the same time.

Turton takes you on a journey unlike any before to help solve a mystery like you’ve never seen, I cannot believe this is his debut novel. What he has done is incredibly complicated but brilliant. It’s the desire of every detective to see everyone’s perspective of the moments before a murder and with a mystery and a loop trapping the participants, it is the opportune moment to piece together clues and motives. Don’t let the 500 pages daunt you, it’s an intricately woven puzzle that makes use of the space and has the feel of an old fashion mystery, information obtained through observing and questioning, lurking and snooping, and secret meetings in the library.

I loved the loop. I love anything that has a loop factor. Turton plays with this notion creatively and in an odd way it reminds me of playing a computer game and playing the same levels over and over. The first time around you don’t pick the fruit from the tree and you go on but fail. The second time you pick the fruit and can trade it for information with a villager. Turton has done an exceptionally clever job piecing this together so that the reader has no idea what is going on just like our narrator, but as he learns, we learn and it allows us to start piecing together our own theories and suspect lists.

The benefits of knowing how much longer there is in this book is you are almost giddy with anticipation at what could possibly be left to happen. There is even a moment when you think it’s finally solved but there are 3 hours left on the audiobook and then all hell breaks loose again. It’s divine! I listened to this riveted to my seat, unable to do anything else much because I was captured by this story. I couldn’t even try and figure anything out until a moment before I was told I was wrong because of the beautiful chaos and complexities and intricacies that are seamlessly making up this story that here’s no time to do anything except listen dutifully in astonishment.

Turton makes use of every one of these 500 pages and right up until the final moment there is perfect pacing that is just the right speed and intensity that the scene or the character needed. You could feel what these characters felt, you understood who they were. The ongoing stress and impact of these loops is shown believably and cleverly within the novel in a way that affects the story, it can’t even just be an inconsequential act, Turton makes sure every act that is taken has meaning and an affect somewhere within this house and for its occupants.

I basically stopped doing anything so I could focus on this story, I listened with intensity for the final third of the book unable to stop listening such was the fascination I had developed. I have never read anything quite like this before, similar stories exist for sure, but what Turton has done, mixing these styles together is genius and unique and I loved every second of it. I genuinely cannot believe this is a debut novel and I certainly wait with anticipation what Turton will come up with next.

You can purchase The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository | Audible

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

 Fishpond | QBD

Double Madness by Caroline de Costa

Published: 13th July 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Margaret River Press
Pages: 357
Format: Paperback
Genre: Crime
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Set in Queensland, this debut crime novel Double Madness by Caroline de Costa, takes us into a sordid underbelly of psycho-sexual depravity. 

As local residents and authorities in Far North Queensland assess the damage in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi, a woman’s body is found in bizarre circumstances deep in the rainforest.

Cass Diamond of Cairns CIB is on the team investigating the murder of fashionista Odile Janvier and it’s not long before she uncovers a disturbing connection between the victim and the local medical profession.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

De Costa hooks you into poor Odile’s story from page one, piquing your interest with her final resting place amongst a cyclone ravished rainforest in Queensland. From then on she introduces you to the complicated world of small town antics, police investigations, and people with secrets of every sort.

For those not familiar with crime or medical jargon or procedure, de Costa makes it understandable but believable and knowing that the characters know what they’re talking about, even if you may not, makes a lot of difference.

The writing style and dialogue adds a great believability and sense of reality; the voices feel natural, conversations are realistic and not overly formal, characters are complicated, make mistakes, and have their own issues and back stories that come into play. The multiple perspectives allow an insight into the minds of each character, providing new information than what is told to others, and it lets readers determine for themselves what role people may play in this crime.

The story doesn’t focus entirely on the investigation, there are sub plots and character histories explored, and the personal lives of characters keep moving forward while the investigation happens around them. The “psycho-sexual depravity” isn’t explicit either, and only really emerges in the latter half of the book, though there are a few creepy and intense moments and references that make your skin crawl along the way. Everything has a part to play though and every references and detail acts as a red herring and a clue, and the more that is uncovered the stranger it becomes.

The timeline jumps, sometimes months, sometimes years, with each flashback revealing a bit more information or detail about various characters. The entire investigation and format de Costa has chosen is a fascinating exploration about what people get up to in their spare time; with the added bonus of being in a small town setting it adds further complications of not only knowing everyone, but knowing everyone’s business as well.

Switching between narrators and revealing information out of sequence shows the complexity of relationships and the small town environment really well. While the investigation reveals some details, and character flashbacks and thoughts reveal others, there is enough not being told that readers are always guessing and piecing together clues themselves. With everyone a possible suspect you soon doubt your own opinions as credible theories and evidence is found for almost every one.

This is a cleverly written crime novel and one reflective of human nature, the panic and rash decisions of those questioned make everyone a suspect and de Costa ensures you pay attention as tiny details can make all the difference and passing references and meetings may be more consequential than they appear. There are so many theories and possible scenarios running through your mind as you read, and all of them have a chance since de Costa is just vague enough and creative enough to make anything possible. But it isn’t until the end, when everything falls into place, that you realise how clever she’s been and how important those tiny details have been.

You can purchase Double Madness via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Publisher | Booktopia

Book Depository

Flank Street by A. J. Sendall

Published: 15th May 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Ascend Digital Publications
Pages: 310
Format: Ebook
Genre: Crime Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Flank Street is set in Australia, mainly in Sydney’s Kings Cross. It’s written in first person from the distorted reality of Micky DeWitt, a shiftless career criminal and world sailor.

Micky arrives in Sydney by boat, broke and on the lookout for opportunity. After taking a job as barman in a Kings Cross pub, he’s eventually approached by a high-end escort who needs something stolen.

Nothing is what it seems, as Micky falls into a honey trap that spins his life out of control.
Some characters from Heather make an appearance, including Mitchell, and the enigmatic Ray Peterson.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

This is the second book in the Sydney Underworld series and takes place before the events set in Heather but remains connected to the life at Kings Cross and includes many familiar faces. It was interesting to read about what the Cross was like before Loretto Reed took over and where certain characters started out, and knowing how the story pans out it was great to see little clues and references scattered throughout. Reading this also made me realise I had made assumptions in Heather which I hadn’t noticed, and having read Heather it made this a better read as well because there was a deeper understanding of even minor characters.

Told from a first-person perspective Flank Street focuses on Micky, a guy with a mysterious past who turns up to Sydney on his boat with the intention of getting involved with the underbelly of Sydney life. I liked Micky’s no-nonsense approach, he knew what he wanted and he went out and got it. His history is not really known and while he makes passing references to where he has been, there is still not a lot known about him. While I would love to know more about Micky’s history it isn’t important to the story and it also made him fit in well with his new life, someone with secrets, a vague past, with a certain set of skills.

It’s hard not to see similarities between Heather and Sam from the first book and Micky and Carol in this one, but at the same time they are also totally separate as well. While Sam enters the Kings Cross life after being convinced by another and with a mission to achieve, Micky chooses it because it is a world where he is comfortable and a place where he is looking to get in with a particular type of people and seeing where that road leads him.

Having only heard about Carol in snippets previously it was easy to see her as a victim, but getting to know her makes you realise she isn’t the nicest person, nor is she that innocent. From early on Carol got little sympathy for me, she was manipulative and selfish and it appears she has secrets of her own. Her association with Micky was curious, never quite trusting one another and both trying to get something from the other. Micky isn’t a fool, he is smart and he is wary but he does get talked into things. Even after telling himself she is not to be trusted that she is playing him, he still goes along with her ideas, against his gut instinct.

I loved getting back into the gritty Underworld of Sydney, albeit from a different angle. Sendall captures the atmosphere of that life and the control one person can have over a place but doesn’t make it too over the top, unrealistic, or even overly dramatic. The hidden threat and the secret agenda of nearly everyone involved means that everyone can be hiding something and not really knowing what people are thinking or are capable of makes for an enthralling read.

Much like Heather this story is one of boats, the underworld, and an outsider looking for a way in, but Sendall makes it much more than that. He has managed to create an elaborate story with intricate connections and complex and mysterious characters that all come together in an engaging and clever read. Flank Street is a wonderful continuation of the series and with a conclusion that boggles your mind and makes you rethink everything you have read Sendall makes sure to uphold your interest and eagerness for the next book in the series.

You can purchase Flank Street via the following

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.com.au

Barnes & Noble | Createspace

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