The Second Woman by Louise Mey – Review.

About The Book

Missing persons don’t always stay that way

Sandrine is unhappy in her body, her house and her life.

But none of that matters when she meets her man. He makes room for her, a place in his home, with his son.

He cares about where she is, who she is speaking to. He loves her, intensely. Everything would be perfect, if only the first woman, the one from before, would just stay away…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Second Woman is one of the most intense books I have read for a long time and it also has one of the most unreliable narrators. The narrator, Sandrine, has problems with confidence and her body image. Her childhood sounded difficult and obviously had an impact on her ability to interact with colleagues and potential friends. But when she meets a man and his son, Mathias, after an appeal to find his missing wife her life changes. And in many ways not in a good way. 

Throughout this novel her man remains nameless. He isn’t the only one, there are a handful of others and I feel this was because the author ( and character) felt that giving them a name gave them an identity they didn’t deserve. Her man was the main one, I think the others weren’t named because of their refusal or ignorance of her predicament. 

At first things appeared fairly calm in their relationship. Sandrine knows that his wife’s disappearance and presumed death has had an impact on his and Mathias’s life and she is slowly getting closer to the young boy and has an amicable relationship with his maternal grandparents. But her relationship with the man has started to get volatile. He resents the constant presence of the police, especially the female officer, and when the first wife reappears you started to see his true personality. 

Initially there were times I struggled to believe Sandrine. I wondered if she really was in a relationship with the man, whether the first wife had reappeared and it even crossed my mind that she was the first wife. But the more I read I started to see what was really happening. I started to see her as others saw her, not her own thoughts regarding her image and her popularity. I saw that there were some people who cared about her safety and wanted to help her. I was also relieved to see that once she realised this it gave her more confidence in her own strengths.

 As the danger levels increased I felt more horrified. Not just at the abuse she and others around her received but also at the lack of understanding over her situation. I hate to think that this is a true reflection of attitude but sadly I expect it is. 

I read this book as part of a read along within a group and really enjoyed seeing other readers thoughts. 

Dust Off The Bones by Paul Howarth – Review.

About The Book

Death follows young Tommy McBride everywhere. Five years ago his family was murdered, and now a freak accident sends him fleeing into the wilderness of the Australian outback with a man lying dead in his wake. But Tommy is haunted by even worse – as children, he and his brother Billy witnessed the state-sanctioned massacre of the Indigenous Kurrong people by the ruthless Native Police Inspector Noone, and they haven’t seen each other since.

When an official inquiry is launched into the massacre, the successful life that Billy has built for himself comes under threat. He sets off in search of his long lost brother, but isn’t the only one on Tommy’s trail―Inspector Noone is looking for him too, and will do anything to stop the truth from coming to light.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, Only Killers And Thieves, so was looking forward to seeing how Billy and Tommy were coping after their traumatic childhood. Both had handled the events differently and had gone their separate ways. Each of them are focused on, as well as Katherine, Billy’s wife, and Henry a human rights lawyer who has a personal life he would prefer to be kept secret. All of them have continued to be affected by the actions of the native police and in particular Edmund Noone, who is one of the most intimidating characters I have come across in fiction. His character was one of those that made me feel I should prepare for the worst that anybody could do.

Neither Tommy or Billy coped easily, Tommy was more transparent. You knew that he struggled with the nightmares and loneliness. Billy kept his feelings close to his chest and came across as uncaring and more concerned with his image and wealth. I didn’t care for the way he treated his elder son but had to remind myself he was a working man who had to think of his family future. Which had no room for books or schooling. 

As well as the characters I loved the description of Australia. Having experienced Melbourne City, Gippsland and the Australian bush I could see it clearly. I can’t imagine factories in Melbourne but I could appreciate the remoteness of the bush setting where you can travel for miles without seeing a dwelling or any type of community. Nice to travel through but I definitely wouldn’t like to live in it!

A wonderful novel that left me aching for more, wanting to know more of Australian history and how the different communities learned to live alongside each other. I would like nothing more than to read about the descendants of all of these characters.

Only Killers And Thieves by Paul Howarth – Review.


About the Book

One scorching day in Australia deserted outback, Tommy McBride and his brother Billy return home to discover that their parents have been brutally murdered.

Distraught and desperate for revenge, the young men set out in search of the killers. But the year is 1885, and the only man who can help them is the cunning and ruthless John Sullivan wealthy landowner and their father’s former employer.

Rallying a posse of men, Sullivan defers to the deadly Inspector Noone and his Queensland Native Police an infamous arm of colonial power whose sole purpose is the dispersal of Indigenous Australians in protection of settler rights. The retribution that follows will leave a lasting scar on the colony and the country it later becomes. It will also haunt Tommy for the rest of his life.

Set against Australia s stunningly harsh landscapes, Only Killers and Thieves is a compelling, devastating novel about cruelty and survival, injustice and honour and about two brothers united in grief, then forever torn apart.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first that I have read that is set in Australia and also the one with the biggest impact. It is set in Queensland in 1885 at a troubling time with the white settlers determined to remove the Indigenous Australians from the land that they want for their own. I had heard of the horrific events that had happened but I had never heard of the role that the Native Police played.
It is a fascinating book to read, often upsetting, often sickening but it’s also humbling and shows the different ways of coping with grief. Both Tommy and Billy cope in different ways,Billy is determined to be just like the men they are with, and he wants to prove himself and Tommy is determined not to be.
There is some violence, you couldn’t really expect anything else with a book like this, but it’s almost like being in the background. It does happen, sometimes with graphic descriptions, but most of the novel focuses on the increasing differences between the two brothers and the volatile situation in the group. There are more horrible people than nice ones, some could show compassion and understanding but then they would show their true colours in other ways. The second part of the novel which is only short shows that attitudes don’t really change but there was a chance to make amends.
It is an important piece of fiction, brilliantly written with plenty of compassion and understanding. Highly recommended and I’m sure it will be one of my top books for 2018.

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic – Review.


About the Book


His childhood friend has been brutally murdered – fingers broken, throat slit – at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.


Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speaks volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail


Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone – including his murdered friend – is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets…

My Review

One of the reasons I love Australia is because the people are so refreshing, open and honest. And their fiction is exactly the same. Resurrection Bay had been on my kindle about eighteen months when I became aware that it was due to be released in paperback, ready for book two following in hardback. After reading this book, that release can’t come quickly enough.
It takes place in Melbourne, somewhere I am familiar with so I enjoyed revisiting areas I knew and learning about the communities that I hadn’t seen. But whether you know them or not it doesn’t matter, this book is mainly about people and the way they are with each other.
As I said at the beginning of my review, Australian fiction is refreshing. One of the reasons why is because it so frank, where people say what they want to without causing any offence. Where people accept that nobody is perfect.
The main characters are Caleb and Frankie. Caleb has been deaf since he was a child after suffering from meningitis. I felt his frustration at missing fragments of conversation and how easy it was to misunderstand somebody. Especially if they weren’t looking at him whilst they were speaking. And the way he didn’t help himself by explaining to a stranger why he struggled. He is loyal, devastated over a friend’s death and determined to find out why he died .Frankie is an ex detective. She struggles with alcoholism like many in other books but because of her age, her wackiness, and her determination it all feels new. But there are more characters than Caleb and Frankie who stand out. Even those who only say a few words are so well drawn you can almost be stood next to them. They feel that real. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where that has happened.

For much of the novel I felt tense, hoping that everybody would be ok and with a hope that there would be a reconciliation but the ending was one that shocked and upset me. I had no inkling that the storyline would go the way that it did. I really need to know what happens next.