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Posted by on 31 Oct, 2023 in Australian Crime Fiction, British Crime, Canberra Weekly, Crime | 0 comments



This week in the Canberra Weekly, I reviewed three crime novels that played around with the conventions of the genre to different degrees.

Past Lying by Val McDermid (Sphere, 10 October 2023)

First up is Val McDermid’s highly enjoyable Past Lying (Sphere, 10 October 2023), which smoothly interweaves parts of a fictional crime novel into the plot about a cold case crime.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Set in Edinburgh during the peak of the COVID lockdowns, Past Lying marks the welcomed return of Val McDermid’s popular detective, Karen Pire, in a new enthralling mystery.

Featuring an interesting ‘story within a story’ plot, it finds Karen trying to untangle fact from fiction as she investigates an unpublished manuscript, which appears to hold the answer to a recent case. Karen is sceptical, but she cannot ignore the plot’s chilling similarities to the unsolved mystery of an Edinburgh University student who vanished. The only problem is that the author died before he finished the story. A fascinating, atmospheric crime story. Recommended.”

I also did a longer review on this blog a few weeks ago:

Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson (Penguin, 17 October 2023)

Benjamin Stevenson is one of my favourite Australian authors and his books always add entertaining twists to the conventions of the genre. His latest, Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect (Penguin, 17 October 2023) is a terrific
follow-up to his much lauded Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone from last year.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Benjamin Stevenson’s Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone was the wittiest and most original crime novel of 2022.   

Now Stevenson has brought back the book’s central character, Ernest Cunningham, in a new novel featuring a locked room murder mystery on a train.  In Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect, Cunningham finds himself investigating a new murder, when a crime writing festival on board the Ghan turns deadly. Featuring Stevenson’s trademark wit and humour, Everyone On This Train Is A Suspect rockets along at a good pace with plenty of twists and turns and some terrific surprises. A great read.”

I also did a longer review on my blog a few weeks ago:

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman (Raven, 24 October 2023)

Dann McDorman’s West Heart Kill (Raven, 24 October 2023) is an engaging homage to the crime genre, with plenty of interesting reflections and a decent mystery plot.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Much in the mould of the Stevenson book, is Dann McDorman’s West Heart Kill.

The basic story centres on the classic detective fiction trope of a group of wealthy people trapped in a secluded location. They share a sordid history of grievances and secrets, and eventually the mounting tension results in murder.

In many ways West Heart Kill is a love letter to the classic mystery, with an abundance of clues, and several ruminations on the history of the genre. The author frequently breaks down the fourth wall to directly address and involve the reader, and the ending defies convention in an interesting way.”

I also did a slightly longer review here:

So some very different takes on the crime genre. I hope at least one of them piques your interest.

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

The review, and other reviews, can also be found on the Canberra Daily site:

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