BOOK CLUB

THERE’S A CHILL­ING NEW MYS­TERY TO DE­VOUR FROM A BRI­TISH THRILLER QUEEN ALONG­SIDE A POW­ER­FUL MEM­OIR FROM MEL­BOURNE’S CARLY FIND­LAY

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELAX -

AND SO IT BE­GINS Rachel Ab­bott HA­CHETTE, $30

Rachel Ab­bott could well be dubbed Bri­tain’s thriller queen, hav­ing pro­duced a pack of twisted reads that keep her fans hooked. She con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion with the dis­cov­ery of two bod­ies in the blood-soaked bed of a reclu­sive pho­tog­ra­pher. The tale then back­tracks to the ar­rival of mys­te­ri­ous Evie Clarke in a town where snap­per Mar­cus North and his sis­ter Cleo have a high-end busi­ness. Evie latches on to North, who has lost his first wife. But Cleo has mis­giv­ings about the ro­mance, even when Evie wins sym­pa­thy with a series of in­juries at home. The bed­room tragedy sparks a court case that touches on trust, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, dam­aged char­ac­ters — and who’s a bet­ter liar. Ab­bott leads us through twists and turns as we en­deav­our to de­ter­mine which char­ac­ter is the most cal­cu­lat­ing and evil. The only down­side is the un­event­ful side story of po­lice of­fi­cer Stephanie King and her ex-lover.

CA­RINA BRUCE

AN ANONY­MOUS GIRL Greer Hen­dricks and Sarah Pekka­nen PAN MACMIL­LAN, $30

When cash-strapped make-up artist Jess Far­ris stum­bles upon an op­por­tu­nity to an­swer sur­vey ques­tions for a psy­chol­ogy study, she fig­ures there’s no easier, obli­ga­tion-free way to boost her bank bal­ance. And its fo­cus on mo­ral­ity and ethics doesn’t faze Jess, who has never doubted her own hon­esty. But Jess wasn’t bank­ing on the in­tense at­ten­tion of the mys­te­ri­ous Dr Ly­dia Shields, who latches on to her sub­ject for in­va­sive as­pects of the project. Sud­denly, Jess is acting out alarm­ing sce­nar­ios as di­rected by con­trol­ling Dr Shields, who seems to have more of an agenda than check­ing ethics. And then Jess starts to feel para­noid and un­safe. Hen­dricks and Pekka­nen, au­thors of the thriller The Wife Be­tween Us, have con­cocted an­other page-turner to give read­ers cause to ex­am­ine their own views of mo­ral­ity as Jess be­comes em­broiled in a web of ob­ses­sion, lies and mis­trust. It has movie writ­ten all over it.

CA­RINA BRUCE

SAY HELLO CARLY FIND­LAY HARPERCOLL­INS, $33

To the ca­sual viewer, Em­bar­rass­ing Bod­ies is prob­a­bly noth­ing more than a trashy TV show. But to Carly Find­lay, it’s ex­ploita­tive and hurt­ful. It’s these kind of stop-and-think mo­ments for the reader that make her mem­oir so en­light­en­ing and im­pact­ful. The Mel­bourne writer’s sto­ries of liv­ing with ichthyosis, a rare ge­netic con­di­tion that leaves her skin red, scaly and painful, are pow­er­ful — the stares, the ver­bal abuse and the feel­ing of need­ing to al­ways apol­o­gise or ex­plain her ap­pear­ance. How she deals with sheer rude­ness — like the taxi driver wor­ried her skin would dam­age his car and her now-in­fa­mous ra­dio in­ter­view with ABC host Jon Faine last year — is tes­ta­ment to her char­ac­ter. But this is no pity party. Say Hello is a proud cel­e­bra­tion of dif­fer­ence, with Find­lay’s jour­ney from a self-con­scious child to an ac­tivist shift­ing the way peo­ple view dis­abil­i­ties an in­spir­ing one. It’s also the book Find­lay wished she had grow­ing up feel­ing iso­lated and in­fe­rior, so it acts as a valu­able read for any­one feel­ing that way too.

ME­GAN MILLER

SUB UR­BAN TALES P.H. Court STONE TA­BLE BOOKS, $18

Here the veiled dark­ness un­der modern life emerges, silent hand out­stretched, mis­un­der­stood but present un­der the sub­ur­ban mun­dane. An ec­cen­tric de­tec­tive teams up with a whale priest (not a typo) to solve an un­solv­able mur­der; a fa­mous fe­male pop­star’s lyrics be­gin to van­ish; and a man idly watches the tur­moil of his do­mes­tic life. Funny, deftly strange, Ade­laide au­thor P.H. Court’s sto­ries slide from chaotic and over­whelm­ing to satir­i­cal. When he nails it, it’s hard to stop read­ing, such as the fi­nal story, although on oc­ca­sion the sto­ries need more depth. Bonkers but beau­ti­ful, Court tears apart mar­riage and fa­ther­hood, me­dia and in­spi­ra­tion, and skew­ers the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of modern life. Hunt­ing for light he finds the hu­man­ity of peo­ple — or, in some cases, a whale.

LYNTON GRACE

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