Book talk: Australian novels

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This week Jeff Popple reviews three new Australian novels. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: murdermayhemandlongdogs.com

55 by James Delargy

Simon & Schuster, $29.99

James Delargy’s debut ‘outback noir’ novel revolves around an interesting premise. Two men separately stumble into the remote Western Australian town of Wilbrook. Both are injured and both say that they escaped from a serial killer. They each claim that the other is the killer and that there are another 54 victims buried in the desert. Tensions run high as the police try to work out who is lying and Delargy does a very good job of keeping us guessing as to who the killer is. There are some slow patches, but overall it flows well. The ending provides some shocks and will divide readers.

Wildflower Ridge by Maya Linnell

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

Maya Linnell makes a sparkling entry into the rural romance arena with her debut about four sisters and the family farm. When Penny McIntyre is struck down by a mysterious illness, she leaves her busy city life and career, and heads home to the small western Victorian town where she grew up to convalesce. Never completely forgiven for leaving the family farm, she struggles to re-establish her relationship with her sisters and deal with the presence of the ex-boyfriend she has never forgotten. Maya has the romance formula down pat, and the book moves smoothly through its paces to a feel-good conclusion.

Blood River by Tony Cavanaugh

Hachette, $32.99

1999 and a serial killer is on the loose in Brisbane. It has been raining steadily for weeks and the river is rising. People’s nerves are on edge and then the first body is found. Men are being brutally killed and the police are desperate to stop the carnage and the headlines. An arrest is made, but is it the right person? Twenty years later, the prisoner is due to be released and the cycle of violence is set to start again. Blood River is an interesting police thriller with its shifting first-person perspectives and staccato narrative. The middle section drags, but the ending surprises.

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