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Posted by on 22 Sep, 2021 in Australian Crime Fiction, Canberra Weekly, Crime, Domestic Suspense, Outback Crime | 0 comments



Canberra Weekly 16 September 2021

Last week in the Canberra Weekly I reviewed two debut novels by Karen Manton and James Roxburgh, and a debut crime novel by Margaret Hickey.

The Banksia House Breakout by James Roxburgh (Ventura)

First up is The Banksia House Breakout by James Roxburgh (Ventura). The latest in a string of recent books about retirement villages and recalcitrant older people who are not ready to do what they are told, The Banksia House Breakout is an enjoyable heartwarming novel that mixes humour with poignancy. In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“The past few years have seen a welcomed increase in the number of books set in nursing homes and retirement villages with strong, sympathetic older characters.  The latest is James Roxburgh’s charming debut The Banksia House Breakout.   When energetic eighty-one year old Ruth Morris is forced into a Sydney nursing home by her workaholic son, she soon misses her independence, and is unnerved by one of the male nurses. When she hears that her best friend Gladys is dying in Brisbane, she enlists the help of two other residents, and together they set off on an adventurous journey to Queensland.  Good heart-warming fun.”

Cutters End by Margaret Hickey (Penguin)

Margaret Hickey’s debut crime novel, Cutters End (Penguin), is an engaging addition to the burgeoning outback crime genre made recently popular by Jane Harper, Chris Hammer and Garry Disher.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Established author Margaret Hickey makes her crime fiction debut with the nicely plotted Cutters End. Three decades ago a burnt body was discovered in remote scrub off the Stuart Highway. The death was ruled an accident, but many people suspect it was murder, including a high profile celebrity who is pushing for the case to be re-opened. Detective Mark Ariti is given the chance to resurrect his career and heads to the remote town of Cutters Bend to find out what really happened. A vividly described and engaging mystery, Cutters End excels in its credible characterisations and dusty locales. An entertaining crime debut.”

I also recently did a longer review of Cutters End here:

The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton (Allen & Unwin)

Karen Manton’s The Curlew’s Eye (Allen & Unwin) traverses the same geographic milieu as Cutters End, and even has a similar striking cover, but does so from a gothic outback perspective.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Also set in a remote part of Australia is Karen Manton’s haunting Northern Territory drama, The Curlew’s Eye. Greta moves with her partner Joel and their three sons to a remote shack in the Top End. The plan is to fix up the family’s ruined property and build cabins for tourists. Greta hopes that it will be a place for them to settle down, but she soon has a sense of unease that is heightened by hostile neighbours, a toxic dam and a mysterious girl. As secrets from the past come to the surface, tensions quickly mount. An atmospheric, outback Gothic mystery.”

An evocative novel that captures the sense of the Australian outback and nicely conveys it through the eyes of an engaging narrator. Fans of Australian domestic suspense will enjoy this one.

So some different perspectives on Australian life from three impressive new authors.

Thanks to the Canberra Weekly and the publishers for the books.

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