Heather Rose’s Bruny, set in the Australian island state of Tasmania, begins with a real bang. A controversial new bridge between sleepy Bruny Island and the main Island of Tasmania is blown up just months before completion, and the headlines immediately scream Terrorism. Seen by some, including the Premier John Coleman, as a means of bringing prosperity to the small island community the bridge, a joint venture with Chinese investors, is violently opposed by others, damned as an eyesore that will result in the devastation of unique local environment. There’s an election looming and UN Investigator (and the Premier’s sister) Asrid Coleman, is brought in to investigate. Rose, whose family have lived in Tasmania for seven generations, delivers something for everyone: political satire, explosions, intrigue, family tensions, and an unlikely love affair. Published by Allen & Unwin.
Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips’ debut novel is set in the remote Kamchatka peninsula at the
northeastern edge of Russia, with its beautiful but incredibly harsh environment. The book follows the impact on the local community of the disappearance of two young sisters, seen largely through the eyes of women who were directly touched by the tragedy, the mother, a witness, a neighbour and a member of the police. At the heart of the novel, are the social and ethnic tensions between the indigenous residents, including the nomadic reindeer herders, and the Russians, the “outsiders”. And as the months pass with seemingly scant official investigations the simmering tensions mount. A brooding, beautifully written novel with a great final twist. Published by Scribe.
The Night Fire by Michael Connelly sees the welcome return of legendary retired cop Harry Bosch and LAPD Detective Renee Ballard. When the widow of Bosch’s recently dead mentor JJ Thompson, gives him the “murder book” of an unsolved killing of a young man in an alley famous for drug deals, it poses more questions than it answered. Why had Thompson taken the file when he left LAPD two decades earlier, yet apparently done nothing with it. Was he somehow implicated? Bosch, now in poor health, enlists the help of Ballard, punted into a seeming career dead end by the department after complaining about sexual harassment. Together they prove that solid policing plus an in-your-face response to intimidation (from both sides of the law) gets results. Published by Allen & Unwin.
Silver by Chris Hammer also covers the issue of development versus the natural environment.Set in modern-day Australia it sees the return of journalist and former foreign correspondent Martin Scarsden, who starred in Hammer’s hugely successful Scrublands. Reluctantly Scarsden has returned to Port Silver, his home town, to join his girlfriend Mandalay. For him the small community brings back only memories of a scarred childhood, one he has spent decades escaping from, but the thought of finally settling down with someone he really loves, overwhelms him. Even before he has unpacked the trouble begins when he finds the body of an old school friend on the floor of Mandalay’s house, knife in his back, postcard in his hand. From then on, it just gets worse. This is a sprawling thriller with a complex twists and turns around every bend of the beautiful natural coastline. Published by Allen & Unwin.