Book talk: Five good reads


This week Jeff and Michael Popple recommend five good reads for the pool or beach this summer.

1. The Promised Land by Barry Maitland

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

A clever whodunnit always makes for enjoyable summer reading, and the latest Brock and Kolla detective story by Australian author Barry Maitland will keep crime readers happily occupied in between swims. Set in London, it has all the ingredients of a good mystery. The detectives are engaging, the secondary characters are well fleshed out and the plot is cleverly constructed. There is a good mid-book twist and Maitland keeps the surprises coming all the way to the last page. There is also a nice literary sub-plot about a lost George Orwell novel. A very enjoyable read.

2. OtherEarth by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Rock the Boat, $19.99

Comedy icon Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller once again team up to produce an exciting young adult thriller that is ideal for the holidays. After freeing his best friend, Kat, from inside the Otherworld VR game, Simon and his friends are on the run from the Company. But as they attempt to fight back with new allies, they are unprepared for the secrets they will uncover. OtherEarth is an intriguing novel that features an amazing combination of video game adventure, fun characters, great humour and a thrilling, conspiracy-laden tale. An outstanding read that will appeal to a diverse audience.

3. Calm the F**k Down by Sarah Knight

Quercus, $29.99

The summer break is always a good time to reflect. Renowned ‘anti-self help guru’ Sarah Knight has produced another clear-sighted book for those who spent too much time in 2018 overthinking and worrying. Sarah acknowledges that bad things can and will happen to you. But instead of wallowing in worry, she sets out what you can realistically do about your problems and how you can get on with your life. Her tone is very down to earth, and the advice is given without jargon or the usual self-help platitudes. A timely reminder for all of us to calm down.

4. Tombland by C J Sansom

Mantle, $29.99

Those looking for a bulky holiday read should check out this impressive piece of historical fiction. Set in 1549, it features lawyer Matthew Shardlake who is sent to Norwich to investigate the murder of a distant relative of his client, Princess Elizabeth. As he uncovers a complex conspiracy, a massive peasant rebellion overtakes the city, forcing Matthew to choose between friends. Tombland is the seventh book in one of the best current historical mystery series. It is an exceptionally good read, centred on a captivating mystery and containing convincing historical details. It is over 800 enjoyable pages long and will keep readers very entertained these holidays.

5. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Macmillan, $29.99

Popular fiction in 2018 was dominated by domestic suspense novels. A lot of them were forgettable, but there were some gems, such as J P Delaney’s Believe Me. Now 2019 is off to a good start with the very impressive An Anonymous Girl. When Jessica Farris sneaks her way into a psychology study on ethics and morality, she is just after some quick money. But when her responses draw her to the attention of the mysterious Doctor Shields, she becomes involved in something more sinister. Well written, clever and surprising, this could well be the summer’s best thriller.

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