Book talk: Tales of suspense and betrayal

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Jeff Popple reviews three tales of suspense and betrayal. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: murdermayhemandlongdogs.com

The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart

Muswell Press, $29.99

Set in the sweltering Greek Islands, The Lizard provides a nice literary escape from the gloomy Canberra weather. Heart-broken English university student Alistair Haston heads to Greece in the summer of 1988 to find his ex-girlfriend, but instead gets caught up in a cocktail of sex, drugs and alcohol, thanks to his new friend Ricky. Things turn ugly, however, when the body of a missing tourist is found, and Alistair is accused of murder. Soon he is on the run from the police as he desperately tries to clear his name. Twisty, pacy and good fun!

Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay

Sphere, $32.99

Elizabeth Kay’s debut suspense thriller is cleverly framed around seven lies told by Jane, the book’s very unreliable narrator. Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they first met at school when they were 11 and they have maintained that bond into their twenties.  Jane, however, dislikes Marnie’s husband, Charles, which leads to her first lie. And if not for that first lie, “Charles would almost certainly still be alive”. Written as if Jane is telling the story directly to the reader, this intimate examination of an obsessive relationship holds attention, even though it does not deliver many surprises.

Hammer to Fall by John Lawton

Grove Press, $29.99

A notch above the other two books, Hammer To Fall is a subtle and well-written spy thriller that seamlessly moves between Berlin in 1948 and Finland and Prague in 1966. This is the third of Lawton’s novels to feature roguish MI6 spy Joe Wilderness and once more finds him in trouble as he tries to mix financial gain with spying on the Russians. The historical periods are well evoked, and the intricate plot unfolds with clockwork precision as the story moves to a tense and unexpected climax at a border crossing between East and West Berlin. A superb piece of spy fiction.

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