TWO NIGHTS Kathy Re­ichs, Wil­liam Heine­mann, $32.99 Po­lice of­fi­cer Sun­nie Night has re­tired due to in­juries sus­tained in the line of duty. She still han­kers for the adren­a­line rush so she ac­cepts a pri­vate as­sign­ment. As her own bizarre story seeps into the on­go­ing hunt for a kid­napped teenager, we un­der­stand why this par­tic­u­lar case is so com­pelling for her. My favourite char­ac­ter is Crage, the at­tor­ney, who can make bad things go away — or not. With him in your cor­ner, or at least hired to help you, the bad­dies are at a se­ri­ous dis­ad­van­tage. Su­perb. THE FAB­U­LOUS FLY­ING MRS MILLER Carol Baxter, Allen and Un­win, $32.99 Who was the first woman to fly from Bri­tain to Aus­tralia? No, it wasn’t Amy John­son in 1930. It was Jessie ‘Chub­bie’ Miller, an Aus­tralian house­wife. It’s a trick ques­tion be­cause Chub­bie wasn’t the pi­lot when she made the jour­ney in 1927, she was the pas­sen­ger. Within a year she qual­i­fi­fied to flfly light air­craft and the life she found so bor­ing back home meta­mor­phosed into a dare­devil career as an avi­a­trix. For Amer­i­cans, she was the femme fa­tale at the cen­tre of an in­fa­mous mur­der trial in 1932. Her young lover was found dead and ev­ery­thing pointed to the man who had flflown with her for fi­five tu­mul­tuous years. Long be­fore the herd­ing and cram­ming that con­sti­tute mod­ern air travel, there was this brief pe­riod of der­ring-do, cap­tured to per­fec­tion by Baxter’s well-re­searched bi­og­ra­phy. THE GULF Anna Spargo-ryan, Pi­cador, $29.99 With a mother like Linda, the poster girl for sleaze, 16-year-old Skye has to be the adult in the room and shield her young brother from the bully, Ja­son, who has bedaz­zled poor Linda. The South Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Child Pro­tec­tion comes out rather well in this all-too-con­vinc­ing novel. How­ever, they are a lot more efff­fec­tive in Ade­laide than in the Gulf re­gion, to which Ja­son takes the hap­less trio. The au­thor’s im­pres­sive evo­ca­tion of power and weak­ness within the fam­ily and within gov­ern­ment is a cry for ac­tion. ALL BY MY­SELF, ALONE Mary Higgins Clark, Simon and Schus­ter, $32.99 Al­though a lux­ury cruise of­fers ev­ery imag­in­able taste treat and re­cre­ation, com­bined with high-end decor and grov­el­ling staffffff, the com­mod­ity that pulls the pun­ters in is the op­por­tu­nity to bring the hec­tic tempo of ev­ery­day life to a stand­still. Celia, a renowned gemol­o­gist, has merely to present two lec­tures, then she can hun­ker down and hide from the no­to­ri­ety that dogs her in Man­hat­tan. Alas, a mur­der yanks her into an in­quiry, with sus­pi­cion rife. How­ever, stress proves to be ther­a­peu­tic. If you’re look­ing for respite from dark themes, the caviar and ball gown at­mos­phere aboard the Queen Char­lotte might be just what you need. WORK STRIFE BAL­ANCE Mia Freed­man, Macmil­lan, $34.99 Freed­man tells young and youngish women what most over-70s al­ready know: do less, no-one will give a damn or, if they do, they’ll even­tu­ally get over it. After a spate of books on how to keep house, raise chil­dren, work ef­fif­fi­ciently and re­tain the in­ter­est of a part­ner why not, says Freed­man, sim­ply fail? ‘Bal­ance’ is an un­help­ful con­cept. Lurch­ing along life’s path is just fifine. THE GAME­KEEPER Por­tia Simp­son, Simon and Schus­ter, $35.99 Un­til Babe came along, I looked on Simp­son’s job as one of the worst on the planet. Simp­son was the fi­first woman to qual­ify as a game­keeper and wildlife man­ager. Imag­ine set­ting up a kill for a client, swiftly dis­em­bow­elling and ‘dress­ing’ a car­case, and then hang­ing it neatly on a pole for the huntsman’s por­trait. Knee in­juries even­tu­ally put an end to game­keep­ing. To­day she’s happy pro­tect­ing red squir­rels. And Babe? I’ll leave you to fifind out for your­selves. Simp­son’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is words do­ing what only words can do. A tri­umph.

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