Death investigation reveals complexity of women’s relationships
FORCE of Nature proves Jane Harper, the author of The Dry, is no one-hit wonder. Its premise is instantly gripping: five women hike into the bush for a corporate retreat, but only four come out.
Breathless readers are left grasping for answers. Has Alice Russell just lost her way in the Giralang Ranges? Has she been accidentally killed? Or is it murder?
As the book progresses, suspects mount against the backdrop of the menacing bush. Is Alice’s boss trying to get rid of her to shut down a probe into financial irregularities? Perhaps a fellow trekker is sick of Alice’s legendary “mean streak”. Or does she have a run-in with an infamous figure?
In exploring the women’s relationships Harper reveals the complexities of sisterhood, motherhood, old-school ties and corporate loyalty. Federal police agent Aaron Falk makes another appearance, and Harper even offers tantalising glimpses of his personal life.
— Susie O’Brien FORCE OF NATURE BY JANE HARPER, PAN MACMILLAN AUSTRALIA, RRP $33
Family tale hits home truths
THE Golden family move to New York at the beginning of the Obama presidency, seeking a haven from a crime they may have committed or the recriminations that may follow.
There, Nero Julius Golden (not the real family name) and his sons, Petronius, Lucius Apeuleius and Dionysus, flaunt their wealth, something their old-money neighbours of Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens Historic District find vulgar. Literary and historical allusions are piled on thick by Rushdie.
The narrator, Rene, a near neighbour, tells the story not only as an outsider but also as a protagonist, and someone who is mining it as a possible movie script. There are instructions for actors, camera and editing cuts throughout. Here, Rushdie, winner of the 1981 Man Booker Prize, hits on truths about the state of society that make for tough reading – except when you’re laughing at the absurdity of the rich justifying themselves.
— Barry Reynolds THE GOLDEN HOUSE BY SALMAN RUSHDIE, JONATHAN CAPE, RRP $33
Lotte’s trek to safety amid war
LOTTE at 17 has big plans, but this is no easy time to be thinking of the future. She is in Munich in 1943, and the tide is turning against the Germans, though Lotte still sees Hitler as her country’s hero.
She finds work as a secretary in the local Luftwaffe, happy to be doing her bit while she prepares to marry her long-time sweetheart, Heinrich.
But the war puts increasing demands on everyone, and Lotte finds herself thrown together with her boss, Erich.
As it becomes clear Germany has lost – with Heinrich missing and Erich’s wife and children believed dead – Lotte and Erich are forced into a dangerous trek to safety. And that is only the beginning of her struggles. Sydney writer Tania Blanchard based this book on stories and letters her German grandmother shared about her life in the war years, and she is now writing a sequel, based on her grandmother’s post-war life in Australia in the 1950s. This novel focuses heavily on Lotte’s personal struggles and relationships, with the true horrors and difficulties of the war largely taking a back seat.
— Corinna Hente THE GIRL FROM MUNICH BY TANIA BLANCHARD, SIMON & SCHUSTER, RRP $30