BOOK CLUB

STYLISH WAR­TIME DRAMA / A COM­PELLING LIFE ON THE MAR­GINS / TASSIE THRILLER / MUR­DER­OUS DILEMMA

Central and North Burnett Times - - ADVERTISIN­G FEATURE -

TRAN­SCRIP­TION Kate Atkin­son DOUBLEDAY, $33

Or­phaned and griev­ing, Juliet Arm­strong drifts into a job with the War Of­fice as the war gath­ers pace. She’s a woman who keeps her own coun­sel, an­swers ques­tions not at all truth­fully and keeps a watch on the peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions around her. She is se­lected from the pool for a se­cret job — tran­scrib­ing meet­ings between a fake Ger­man agent and lo­cal in­form­ers. In her spare time, she be­comes a spy of sorts, en­ter­ing high so­ci­ety to in­fil­trate a group of Ger­man sym­pa­this­ers. The story switches between 1940 and 1950, when she is work­ing at the BBC, fac­ing the re­turn of un­ex­pected peo­ple into her life. Is it co­in­ci­dence or should she be wor­ried? The lan­guage is as sharp, stylish and funny as you would ex­pect from any Atkin­son book, and it has her trade­mark way of turn­ing a genre on its head. Don’t pick this up ex­pect­ing a spy thriller in a tra­di­tional sense. What she does in­stead is sub­tle and sur­pris­ing.

CORINNA HENTE VER­DICT: Queen Kate’s in charge

ONE HUN­DRED YEARS OF DIRT Rick Mor­ton MEL­BOURNE UNIVER­SITY PRESS, $30

De­spite be­ing born into one of the na­tion’s wealth­i­est farm­ing dy­nas­ties at the time, Rick Mor­ton’s life changes ir­re­versibly, thanks to a young gov­erness and a freak ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing his older brother when he is just six years old. From hav­ing to learn to nav­i­gate his way into an adult world in which he is con­vinced he does not be­long, Mor­ton, a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian, leaves no stone un­turned, es­pe­cially when dis­cussing his men­tal health and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion — and the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect the 2017 same-sex mar­riage plebiscite played on the two. A sear­ing look at what life on the poverty line is like in this coun­try, and how near im­pos­si­ble it is to breach the so­cial di­vide when the odds are stacked against you, One Hun­dred Years of Dirt is as much a wake-up call to the pol­i­cy­mak­ers of Aus­tralia as it is a love let­ter to those who helped him reach where he is to­day.

KATY HALL VER­DICT: A must read of the year

WIN­TER­ING Krissy Kneen TEXT PUB­LISH­ING, $30

Jes­sica is liv­ing in a cold shack with her boyfriend, Matthew, in the very south of Tas­ma­nia, where she writes her PhD and works guid­ing tourists though dank cav­erns. Their re­la­tion­ship is riven by his jeal­ousy and need to con­trol her. She has few friends and is es­tranged from her mother. Matthew is driv­ing home from his job at a salmon farm when he dis­ap­pears. His car is found by the road. A video he was shoot­ing as he drove shows him hit­ting a strange an­i­mal-like man, or man-like an­i­mal, be­fore it cuts out. Jes­sica is con­tacted by a group of women whose part­ners all dis­ap­peared. But their the­o­ries are im­pos­si­ble for a sci­en­tist like Jes­sica to rec­on­cile. The con­clu­sion is open-ended but in a thought­pro­vok­ing way. Is Win­ter­ing an al­le­gory about do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or su­per­nat­u­ral fic­tion? Is it a tale of col­lec­tive hys­te­ria or a crime novel? It will likely be dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent read­ers. For me, it was so sat­is­fy­ing and com­pelling, I de­voured it in a day.

CLAIRE SUTHER­LAND VER­DICT: Haunt­ing

GREEN LIGHT Ben­jamin Steven­son PEN­GUIN, $33

The dis­cov­ery of El­iza Dacey’s body, bru­tally mur­dered with two fin­gers stuffed in her mouth, is the per­fect sub­ject for young-gun pro­ducer Jack Quick’s true-crime doc­u­men­tary. And his con­spir­acy-rich ef­fort is a rat­ings win­ner. But de­spite find­ing ev­i­dence that could prove the man charged with the mur­der is in­deed guilty, Jack buries it to en­sure the fi­nale’s suc­cess. And then that man, Cur­tis Wade, is re­leased from jail and re­turns home to the sleepy wine-pro­duc­ing town of Bir­ravale. Wade is the bad grape hang­ing on the town’s per­fect vines. Jack re­alises he may have helped a guilty man walk and he is the only one who can right that wrong, no mat­ter what it takes. Quick is not the most like­able char­ac­ter in stand-up co­me­dian Steven­son’s first novel. He’s for­ever tread­ing on toes de­spite his best in­ten­tions. That said, there are some per­fectly ex­e­cuted plot twists and turns to keep you in­ter­ested.

PAUL HUNTER VER­DICT: Al­most per­fect vin­tage

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