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Posted by on 10 Mar, 2023 in Australian Crime Fiction, British Crime, Canberra Weekly, Crime, Thriller | 2 comments



Canberra Weekly, 9 March 2023

This week in the Canberra Weekly I reviewed three new novels of suspense from around the world.

Judgement Day by Mali Waugh (Macmillan, 28 February 2023)

First up is Judgement Day (Macmillan, 28 February 2023) by Mali Waugh, which is another first rate crime fiction debut by an Australian female author. Coming close on the heels of impressive debuts over recent years by Hayley Scrivenor, Shelley Burr, Dinuka McKenzie, Allie Reynolds and Margaret Hickey, to name a few, it indicates that Australian crime fiction has a very good future ahead of it.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Judgement Day by Mali Waugh continues the recent run of high quality debut crime novels by Australian authors.

Set amid the drama and egos of Melbourne’s family law courts, Judgement Day is an assured mystery that also takes a searing look at the legal system. When family law judge Kaye Bailey is found murdered in her chambers there is no shortage of suspects, including disgruntled complainants and jealous colleagues. Working her way through the chaos is police detective Jillian Bassett, who has just returned from maternity leave and is trying to juggle a difficult case and the demands of motherhood. Highly recommended. “

I also did a longer review a couple of weeks ago here:

The Favour by Nicci French (Simon & Schuster, March 2023)

Also highly accomplished and assured, is the latest suspense novel by the husband and wife writing team of Nicci French, The Favour (Simon & Schuster, March 2023).

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“The husband and wife writing team known as Nicci French are renowned for their literate, compelling psychological thrillers and their latest, The Favour, is another enjoyable read.

Jude has moved on from a traumatic incident in her past, and is now a successful doctor who is about to get married. When her enigmatic first love, wild boy Liam, turns up in her life after ten years of no contact she is surprised and willingly agrees to his request for a favour. That favour, however, soon leads to death, and suddenly Jude is caught up in a murder investigation. A clever, engaging, mystery thriller.”

I did longer review here:

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz (Magpie Books, 28 February 2023)

American author Julia Bartz makes an impressive entry into the realm of horror suspense writing with her first novel, The Writing Retreat (Magpie Books, 28 February 2023).

There is a quiet intensity to The Writing Retreat, which grows as the suspicious events pile up and the actions of the controversial feminist horror writer at the centre of the story, Roza Vallo, become more extreme. Julia nicely alternates the real horrors at the writing retreat with extracts from a story being written by one of the attendees, and there is a good sense of unease from the opening pages. There are also some interesting reflections on the business of horror writing and the desperation that drives budding authors to be successful. The graphic sex and drug taking will not appeal to everyone, but overall it is a compelling and original slice of horror and suspense.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Julia Bartz’s debut chiller The Writing Retreat is a mixture of horror, locked room mystery and psychological insights into writing and authors.  Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of a controversial feminist horror writer. Struggling author Alex is pleased to be invited and enthusiastically dives into the lucrative competition to see who can produce the best novel. But when the other attendees begin to disappear, Alex finds that she is writing for her life.  Gripping and fast paced, this is a suspenseful and claustrophobic thriller that will keep you keenly turning the pages.”

So three very different novels of suspense! Which one appeals the most to you?

Here is a link to the Book Page in the Canberra Weekly:


  1. I’ve had my eye on The Writing Retreat; sounds delicious!
    I’m a fan of Nicci French too, so no doubt I’ll get around to that this year…

  2. I’ve read ‘The Favour’ and I’m very tempted to read ‘The Writing Retreat’. So many books…

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