The Cobalt Sky is book 10 in Keith Dixon’s Sam Dyke Investigations series.
The story is driven by the theft of an artwork and the dysfunctional relationships of the artist’s family. The more Sam looks into the people associated with the artist, the more dysfunctional the family appears, and the less likable the artist becomes as a person.
The investigation is hampered by a lack of honesty in several key players, one of whom is the thief. No surprise there, but there are a few surprises in the telling of this tale. A good read.
The Bank Inspector is the first book in a trilogy of crime stories, featuring Detective Sergeant Brian Shaw, set in the banking world of 1950’s South Australia by Australian author Roger Monk.
The world of the 1950s is a place most of us only know from television shows, and the intricacies of its banking and police worlds have slipped from our working memories.
Although I lived through most of the 1950s, as a small boy I had no idea how things worked in the adult world. This story is an intriguing look through a window into that world.
The tale is one of an almost perfect crime and an attempted murder that, at first, does not seem related to the main story. However, as the story progresses the pieces start to make sense as more and more connections are revealed.
I enjoyed the insight into the less sophisticated world of yesterday – a world where there were no mobile telephones, no photocopiers, no digital photography, and no computers. It was also a world where people trusted others to be who they said there were – an aspect exploited by the criminal mind driving the story.
As a writer of contemporary crime fiction, I felt a bit sorry for D Sgt Shaw. He has his work cut out for him in this investigation, in a world where the police have to rely on information gained through speaking to people, very basic forensics, and the criminal making a mistake.
And, of course, mistakes are made as they always are. It’s a good read with a pace suited to the times.
You can find out more about The Bank Inspector and the other books in the trilogy on www.rogermonk.com.au
Racked is the fourth book in Sue Coletta’s Grafton County series, based on the lives of crime writer Sage Quintano and her husband, Niko, the Sheriff of Grafton County.
I imagine being the wife of a sheriff would be trying enough but, somehow, Sage Quintano manages to bring more excitement into her life by attracting people intent on doing her or her family harm.
The story in Racked centres around the unsolved disappearance of five boys and Sage finding out they were all given a similar item prior to their disappearance – a stuffed animal like the one someone has mysteriously given her two-year-old son, Noah.
There is plenty of tension, much of it generated by the actions of Sage, who takes things into her own hands – despite her husband reminding her that she’s the writer and he’s the sheriff.
It’s a page-turner. It’s one of those books where you want to know what happens, even though the main character is driving you nuts with her impulsive behaviour.
But, be warned, It’s not your usual police procedural. Sage Quintano is an amateur investigator who thinks the State Police and her sheriff husband aren’t doing enough, so expect a bit mayhem. I enjoyed it.
This is sort of a business book. It’s full of business case studies and marketing advice. But, it’s also a book about encouraging you to think bigger.
Kukral sings the praises of what he defines as unskippable people and businesses. These are basically people you can’t ignore and firms you want to do business with.
The purpose of the book is to inspire you to become someone who can’t be passed over or to transform your business into one that attracts people.
I found the book both inspiring and depressing at the same time.
The inspiration comes from the stories and the advice on how to go about becoming unskippable. All good motivational and personal growth stuff.
The depressing part is Kukral’s reading of the state of society and its descent into intolerant tribalism, especially in its use of social media. Unfortunately, international readers can’t take much solace from the fact that his analysis is largely USA based.
Kukral’s marketing message is to focus on the tribe that sees the world the way you do. He urges you to stand for something and stop wasting your time and energy trying to be generic – you’re never going to appeal to everybody, so choose which customers to pitch to, and pitching to people who share your values is the way to go.
It’s an interesting and thought provoking read with a message to get away from relying on the toxic world of social media and start getting back to dealing with real people, face to face.
You can find out more about Jim Kukral and buy links for the book on www.JimKukral.com
If you’re looking for a good read, take a look at Scrublands by Australian author Chris Hammer.
Scrublands is set in Riversend, an isolated town in regional Australia, where people are barely holding on through a prolonged drought and coping with the after-effects of a tragedy.
The story follows Martin Scarsden, a journalist coping with his own problems, who has been sent from Sydney to write a feature story on the anniversary of the tragedy.
What sounded like a fairly straight forward assignment to Scarsden, soon develops into a complex, twisted adventure as the truth slowly leaks out and events overtake his story and the people of Riversend.
You’ll meet some interesting characters, get a taste of life lived in the middle of nowhere, and see through a window into a town coping with drought, tragedy, and the loss of opportunity.
I picked up a copy from the book tent at Adelaide Writers’ Week and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Why would a man break out of prison the day before he was due to be released?
This is the question driving the story of Audie Palmer in Life or Death by Michael Robotham.
It’s certainly a question that kept me turning the pages in this well-constructed riddle, and I was a long way in before I picked up the clue that exposes the reason behind Audie’s apparently mindless act.
Life or Death is an intriguing story with an interesting cast of players, including Moss Webster, Audie’s only friend when he was in prison, who gets dragged into the hunt, and FBI Special Agent Desiree Furness, who wants to get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
Of course, there is another group of characters who only want Audie dead, so there is more than enough action to keep you wondering whether Audie is going to end up dead or not before you find out the answer to that initial question.
Think you know a thing or two about the way the world is?
Ready to have some of your facts challenged?
How would you feel if I told you a chimpanzee choosing answers at random scores better than most of us when it comes to answering questions about the state of affairs in the world?
That’s a claim made by the authors of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We Are Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
The lead author is Hans Rosling, who spent a major part of his life studying data. Hans is supported by Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, co-founders of Gapminder.
Take the Gapminder test and see if you do better than those chimpanzees.
After doing the test, buy yourself a copy of Factfulness to discover why we get things so wrong when we think we know the answers, and explore the tools and resources on Gapminder – where you’ll find a lot of useful information.
I think you’ll find this book is an eye-opener, and I’m happy to recommend it as a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to become aware of how good things are in the world today.
A serial killer murdering for kicks. A detective seeking revenge.
When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.
But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.
When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.
With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun…
I enjoyed reading this one, which I picked up from Kobo when I renewed my VIP membership. It’s the first book in the Kay Hunter series. It’s one of those books you want to read right through in one sitting to find out what happens at the end.
Mark Dawson is the author of the John Milton and Beatrix Rose thriller series.
In Phoenix, written to help fund a friend’s medical expenses, Mark brings his two two heroes together for a plausible but highly improbable mission – the usual stuff of thrillers. It’s even got a touch of a POTUS 45 tweet about it, with the Brits doing the dirty work for the CIA.
Shelby Alexander is a ‘fixer’ that shady people turn to when things go off the rails.
He’s no private detective and he’s no saint. He’s not a young hot head either. He’s almost sixty, retired, and living in splendid isolation outside Serenity, Michigan. That doesn’t mean he’s out of harm’s way. In fact, just the opposite becomes apparent when a young woman drops in to die. Serenity is the story of what happens after that.
Serenity is well written, and I was deftly led astray by the storyline, which means I enjoyed a couple of unexpected surprises.
Shelby is one of those characters that grows on you, so it won’t be long before I’ll be reading the next one in this series.
I didn’t quite know what to expect of a story set in rural Michigan. It certainly wasn’t anything like Yorkshire but ShelbyAlexander is just as headstrong as young Sam Dyke.