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