Where the Murray River runs by Darry Fraser

cynthia-where-the-murray-river-runs.jpgIt did take a few chapters for me to get into this historical story based in country Victoria in the 1890s. The story features the sometimes hard to read issue of domestic violence and the people willing to fight on their behalf. It made me appreciate the way that laws and people’s attitudes have changed, but unfortunately some things have not. Strong female characters are a highlight, along with the men who support them. Overall a solid Australian historical story that moves at a great pace.

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Home fires by Fiona Lowe

cynthia-home-fires.jpgFrom the beginning of the story I was involved in the story, the characters were relatable and likeable.
It is the story of a group of women living in a small rural town that has been affected by a bushfire. We delve into their lives, both before fire and after fire. The topics covered are many, including depression and domestic violence, and the story could of been completely maudlum, but in the hands of the author we are given hints of hope and love. A very engaging Australian story.

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The dry by Jane Harper

amy-the-dry.jpgAaron Falk left the small, Victorian country town he grew up in, many years ago, and not in happy circumstances. Now, he finds himself there for the funeral of his old friend, who seems to have killed his wife and son, before killing himself. In the middle of a drought, Kiewarra is not a pleasant place to be, but Aaron and the local policeman don’t think the story adds up, and do a little unofficial investigating. This is an atmospheric, fast-paced and suspenseful rural noir novel, and I can understand why it has been so popular.

Star-crossed by Minnie Drake

cynthia-star-crossed.jpgThis was such a fun read. Justine works for the local paper and meets up with Nick, an old friend. When she discovers that he lives his life by the stars, Justine decides to alter the astrology column to help nudge him in her direction. Of course things do not go to plan and altering the stars affect other people as well. I loved how these characters were woven into Justine and Nick’s story. I was chuckling throughout the story – it was just what I needed.

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An American marriage by Tayari Jones

amy-an-american-marriage.jpgRoy and Celestial were married for a little over a year when Roy was falsely accused of rape, and sent to prison for twelve years. We follow the story alternating between narrators, and through the letters written while Roy is in prison. When he is let out early, they need to work out what their life can be. It’s about marriage in modern times, class, racism, love, independence, and strength. It’s a difficult story, but the ending is gently hopeful, and I found it captivating.

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Tarnished city by Vic James

amy-tarnished-city.jpgIt took me a little while to get back into the story, as I read the first in the trilogy some time (and many books) ago. All three are out now, so you can read the trilogy straight through. It’s set in an alternate Britain, where the cruel, ruling class are not the aristocracy, but those with Skill (like magic). It’s about the fight for justice and freedom, with loyalty, betrayal, love, loss, and plenty of twists.

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The lost man by Jane Harper

Ali - The lost man

This is the third book in three years by Jane Harper, her first novel The Dry only being published in 2016.

Harper’s third murder mystery is set in South west Queensland on a large cattle station where Cam Bright , one of three brothers is found dead at a remote landmark, the stockman’s grave.

Assumed to be an accidental death by the local police,  Nathan, the brother who discovers Cam’s body, cannot make sense of Cam , successful and organised,  abandoning his fully stocked land rover, to die alone in the extreme heat.

Nathan is the eldest of the Bright brothers  and  the one who and has  been ostracised by the local community for a mistake he made  ten years before. He lives a solitary life, estranged from his wife and the relationship with his son becoming weaker as Xander approaches adulthood. His property is in deep financial debt and he struggles to run the farm without the support of  his neighbours in drought like conditions.

Nathan starts to look into Cam’s death and uncovers uncomfortable truths about his seemingly popular brother, his deceased father and  events in the past that his mother has kept quiet for many years.

This isn’t so much a murder mystery as a family drama, but not in the sense of  a soap opera, more intrigue than that! The writing is  very atmospheric and descriptive and you  can feel the sun’s heat on your neck and the hot , red dirt under your feet while you follow the Bright family to the conclusion of this story.

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Scrublands by Chris Hammer

amy-scrublands.jpgScrublands is Australian rural noir, set in a fictional town in the Riverina. A year ago, a priest shot a number of men dead, and was then shot himself by the local policeman. A journalist, with his own demons, arrives to write a piece about how the town is coping, only to uncover, and become entangled, in layers of secrets. There is a great sense of place; the oppressive heat and bleak landscape mirroring the tension between the townspeople, the police and the news people. The mystery is deep and complex, the characters compelling, and the plight of the small country town in drought, utterly believable.

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