BOOK CLUB

LIT­ER­ARY MYS­TERY/BOSCH AGAIN MAS­TERS ART OF SOLV­ING CRIME/THE FI­NAL CHAP­TER IN A FIRST-RATE SE­RIES/DIG­GING UP DIRTY SE­CRETS

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THE FRAG­MENTS Toni Jor­dan TEXT PUB­LISH­ING, RRP $30

With burnt frag­ments from fic­ti­tious lit­er­ary great Inga Karl­son’s last un­pub­lished work on dis­play in Bris­bane in 1986, Cad­die ea­gerly at­tends the ex­hi­bi­tion. She was named af­ter the pro­tag­o­nist in Karl­son’s first novel All Has An End and has had an en­dur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with her. Karl­son be­came an enigma when she died at 28 in a ware­house ar­son at­tack, along with her pub­lisher and ev­ery copy of her highly an­tic­i­pated sec­ond novel The Days, The Min­utes. The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in­con­clu­sive and it has be­come one of the great­est lit­er­ary mys­ter­ies of the past 50 years. Cad­die’s ob­ses­sion with the au­thor and the story is only height­ened when she chances fleet­ingly upon an el­derly woman named Rachel out­side the Bris­bane ex­hi­bi­tion who quotes a line from the sec­ond book. Cad­die quickly re­alises the words go be­yond what is in the burnt frag­ments and at­tempts to hunt down Rachel and find out once and for all who killed Karl­son. The book al­ter­nates be­tween Cad­die and Rachel. The writ­ing from Mel­bourne au­thor Toni Jor­dan is sub­lime. SHEL­LEY HAD­FIELD

VER­DICT: Glo­ri­ous

DARK SA­CRED NIGHT Michael Connelly ALLEN & UN­WIN, RRP $33

Harry Bosch, a de­tec­tive with the same name as 15th cen­tury pain­ter Hierony­mus Bosch, trawls through the un­der­belly of Los An­ge­les, bring­ing mur­der­ers and rapists to long-de­layed jus­tice. He in­hab­its a sim­i­larly dark world as the Dutch pain­ter. No longer with the LA po­lice depart­ment, Bosch is a loner at odds with au­thor­ity af­ter an­other brush with the po­lice es­tab­lish­ment. Now with the un­der-re­sourced San Fernando po­lice, he works mostly cold cases. Bosch’s motto is, “Ev­ery­body counts or no­body counts.” As a char­ac­ter, Bosch has been con­tin­u­ally rein­vented by Connelly, a for­mer Los An­ge­les Times crime re­porter. Re­nee Bal­lard, a cop who has also fallen foul of the LAPD top floor, teams with Bosch to solve the rape and mur­der of a 15-year-old street girl. Connelly’s read­ers are as re­lent­less as the de­tec­tive in fol­low­ing the twist­ing paths in his best-sell­ing nov­els. Bosch fea­tures in a se­ries of the same name on SBS TV. PETER COSTER VER­DICT: Couldn’t put it down

THE LABYRINTH OF THE SPIR­ITS Car­los Ruiz Za­fon TEXT PUB­LISH­ING, RRP

This is the fi­nal in­stal­ment of The Ceme­tery of For­got­ten Books se­ries that ar­rived in its English trans­la­tion in 2001 as The Shadow of the Wind, fol­lowed by The An­gel’s Game and The Pris­oner of Heaven. They are set in Barcelona be­fore the Span­ish Civil War of the 1930s to 1960, with a postscript in this book in 1992. This bril­liant piece of writ­ing cen­tres on the sec­ond-hand book­shop of Sam­pere & Sons and the fam­ily’s at­tempt to live un­der the mur­der­ous Franco regime. It also fea­tures the fam­ily’s faith­ful friend and pro­tec­tor Firmin, a street philoso­pher as adept in a fight as he is at ver­bal du­elling. But the star is Ali­cia Gris, who is re­cruited to help the in­tel­li­gence arm of the regime but has a big­ger agenda of her own, one that in­cludes the sort of sum­mary jus­tice we can all ap­plaud. Some­times a se­ries this long can strug­gle to hold our at­ten­tion. Not here. Plan a few days with­out in­ter­rup­tion to en­joy one of the best se­ries this cen­tury. BARRY REYNOLDS VER­DICT: Never for­got­ten

THE DI­NOSAUR ARTIST Paige Wil­liams SCRIBE, RRP $33

The iconic di­nosaur Tyran­nosaurus rex (T-rex) had a Mon­go­lian cousin, Tar­bosaurus bataar (T-bataar). Both had heads more than a me­tre long, short fore­arms, lethal hind legs and curved claws. When mu­se­ums and col­lec­tors started pay­ing small for­tunes for T-rex bones, US fos­sil hunter Eric Prokopi saw an op­por­tu­nity to buy T-bataar bones cheaply from poor fos­sil hunters in the Gobi Desert, Mon­go­lia, ship them to the US and auc­tion them as T-rex bones for a profit. Au­thor Wil­liams uses the story of Prokopi to dig into the muddy world of fos­sil col­lec­tors, deal­ers and sell­ers. It’s a world where un­der­funded mu­se­ums com­pete with wealthy film stars to buy the most valu­able skele­tons, and only ex­pert palaeon­tol­o­gists can iden­tify bones that can be eas­ily smug­gled from a coun­try where they are pro­tected to a coun­try where they can be sold freely. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney to the cen­tre of the mod­ern Juras­sic world. JEFF MAY­NARD VER­DICT: Im­pres­sive

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