Book talk: Around the world


Jeff Popple reviews three engaging novels from around the world. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog,

The Lost Girls by Jennifer Spence

Simon & Schuster, $29.99

Sydney writer Jennifer Spence has crafted a haunting, clever novel about loss and opportunities. Stella inexplicably finds herself thrown back in time to 1997. Confused and disorientated, she comes to realise that she may have the opportunity to change the future and avert a coming family tragedy. Pretending to be her long-lost aunt, Stella embarks on a mission to save her family and solve the mystery of a fifty-year-old disappearance. Some of the details do not hold up to scrutiny, but Spence excels in her reflections on life, memory and second chances and the changing face of Sydney.

Marked for Death by Tony Kent

Elliott and Thompson, $29.99

Kent made a sparkling entry on the British thriller scene last year with his debut novel, Killer Intent. Now he has more than matched it. Marked for Deathonce more features London barrister Michael Devlin and his fiancée, television reporter Sarah Truman. The story opens with the brutal murder, by crucifixion, of a well-respected retired Lord Chief Justice. When a second murder occurs, Sarah begins to suspect that there is a link to her fiancé who is involved in a complex murder trial. This gripping thriller moves rapidly through its 430-odd pages and keeps the reader engaged as it twists its way to a suspenseful conclusion.

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell

Constable, $29.99

This engrossing historical thriller is set in Czechoslovakia in 1935. On the streets of Prague, someone is butchering women in a sickening manner reminiscent of London’s Jack the Ripper. As the police struggle to find the killer, young psychiatrist Viktor Kosarek makes his way to a small rural village where the revolutionary Orlu Asylum is housed in an ancient medieval castle. The Asylum is home to six of Europe’s worst murderers and it is Kosarek’s intent to study their psychology, but gradually he is drawn into the murders in Prague. This is a vividly described and fascinating novel that stays in the mind.

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