CRIME AND PASSION/POLISHED MYSTERY FROM A CHAT SHOW HOST/ILLUSTRATED TOUR OF AUSTRALIA’S PAST/ WHY FATHER DOESN’T ALWAYS KNOW BEST
HEAVEN SENT Alan Carter
FREMANTLE PRESS, RRP $30 Philip “Cato” Kwong, an intelligent and thick-skinned Fremantle detective, is a happy chappy. He has a new wife and a beautiful baby girl. Sleep is a thing of the past but the love for his family has him leaping out of bed every day. Work pulls him from that bliss when some of Fremantle’s homeless population start turning up dead. Cato jumps into solving the murders, his determination winning over some on the force but alienating others. Each step he takes brings the killer closer to Cato and those closest to him. Throw in a hipster journalist on a mission to contact the killer and play a fame game online. The fourth in the Cato Kwong series is a cracking police procedural as Carter brilliantly explores the impact of the crimes on those with a badge as well as his wonderful cast of characters, whether it’s his feisty wife Sharon or Cato’s lovable old curmudgeon inspector. Don’t worry if, like me, you haven’t read earlier chapters in Cato’s story, Carter is a master of his craft and Heaven Sent is completely accessible to new readers. PAUL HUNTER VERDICT: Brilliant, case closed
A KEEPER Graham Norton HODDER & STOUGHTON, RRP $33
Graham Norton doesn’t seem able to put a foot wrong. The popular Irish talk show and radio host firmly establishes himself as a notable writer of popular fiction with his second book. Elizabeth Keane returns home to sort things out after her mother Patricia’s death, and comes across some courting letters her father wrote to her mother decades before. Her father’s identity has always been a mystery — all her mother ever said was that he died when Elizabeth was a baby. A parallel story — so dark at times it deserves to be called Irish Gothic — tracks young Patricia as she innocently meets farmer Edward and visits the beautiful, remote seaside village he lives in, without any idea of what she is getting into. Once Elizabeth digs into the past, there seems to be no end to the layers of secrets she must work through to find the truth. There are moments of tragedy, but Norton keeps it fastpaced and full of warmth, never allowing it to become grim.
CORINNA HENTE VERDICT: Thoroughly enjoyable
WHERE HISTORY HAPPENED Peter Spearritt
NLA PUBLISHING, RRP $40 This is a combination of travel guide and history lesson. Spearritt roams Australia seeking out the locations of famous and notso-famous events to discover what remains of those sites. We search for indigenous rock art in Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland, visit the military barracks on Norfolk Island and tour New Norcia, a Benedictine monastery established 130km north of Perth in 1846. Many places, like Tasmania’s Port Arthur convict settlement and the Old Melbourne Gaol, are preserved as historic sites. But many are not. Spearritt takes us to where Japanese prisoners of war escaped from the Cowra camp in 1944, an Afghan mosque in Broken Hill and the Barossa Valley, where Prussian migrants built our first winery. Anyone wanting details about a historic event would need to explore more deeply, but this is an enjoyable visual introduction to Australia’s past.
JEFF MAYNARD VERDICT: Colourful
MAD, BAD, DANGEROUS TO KNOW Colm Toibin PICADOR AUSTRALIA, RRP $30
Two of the three fathers depicted here fail to make a decent living or even present as decent, caring fathers. Some of it can be blamed on the times, but the fathers of W.B. Yeats and James Joyce had plenty, whether it was money or talent, and squandered it, bringing not just themselves down but also their wives and children. Oscar Wilde’s father was the only one who pursued his work and his passions without bringing immediate harm to his family. He was a statistician, doctor and archaeologist, who wrote books on a range of subjects, from a study on the census to eye and ear surgery. Yeats’ father was a failed artist who looked to his son for an income and Joyce’s father lost all his money while always finding just enough to be a continual drunk. This book follows a few recent biographies that have tried to show that talent — genius, even — does not appear out of a vacuum.
BARRY REYNOLDS VERDICT: WHO’S YOUR DADDY?