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Posted by on 1 Jul, 2024 in Australian Crime Fiction, Crime, Forecast Friday, Historical Thrillers, Looking Forward Friday, Outback Crime, Spy Fiction, Thriller | 3 comments




Not much news this month. I have listed some promising new releases below under the Preview section, but also would note that there are a number of other books to look out for. Christian White has a new novel due out in October (The Ledge), as does Lainie Anderson in September (The Death Of Dora Black), while Riley James’ Antarctica thriller The Chilling (September), also looks very good.


Here are shortish reviews of three new Australian releases.

The Wrong Man by Tim Ayliffe (Simon & Schuster, 3 July 2024)

Tim Ayliffe is one of those authors who gets steadily better with each book. I liked his first John Bailey novel, The Greater Good, but thought that each of the successive entries were just a little better, culminating in last year’s Killer Traitor Spy.

The fifth novel in the series, The Wrong Man (Simon & Schuster, 3 July 2024), finds Bailey trying to move away from the international journalism that costed him so much in the past.

Detective Holly Sutton has been seconded to work with the New South Wales Homicide Squad to investigate the murder of Sydney socialite Tottie Evans, who was found dead at the Palm Beach home of millionaire property developer Alec Blacksmith. Blacksmith isn’t like other real estate guys. He’s a former mercenary soldier who shot to fame after appearing on a reality TV show. Blacksmith is refusing to cooperate with police because he has his own secrets.

Bailey is not too interested in the story until he gets a call from the police about a break-in at the house he inherited from his former girlfriend, Sharon Dexter, a cop who was murdered in the line of duty. Whoever crowbarred the lock was looking for Dexter’s case file about the murder of a waitress named Sally King at an exclusive Sydney gentlemen’s club a decade earlier. After examining the file, Bailey discovers something that will blow up the Homicide Squad’s investigation into Tottie Evans’s death – a link to the murder of Sally King. The only problem is that the serial killer responsible for Sally’s death is already serving a life sentence for the crime.

This is an enjoyable, quick moving story that smoothly alternates the perspective between Bailey and Holly Sutton to good effect. The early scenes expertly set up the basic premise of the plot, and the subsequent twists and turns keep you interested all the way to the exciting final shoot-out. The action is well choreographed and gripping, and Ayliffe keeps the violence within the boundaries of credibility.

Holly is a good addition to the series. She is an interesting, well fleshed out character with a nice mixture of strengths and flaws. She also has a good backstory that becomes increasingly relevant. Bailey also continues to grow as a character and, as always, his reflections on politics, international affairs in the Pacific, media, and society are pertinent and wryly amusing at times.

In all, The Wrong Man is a well crafted thriller with timely themes about online misogyny and the abuse of power. I also liked the vivid descriptions of Sydney around the Harbour. My only slight reservations come from some of the closing chapters, which stretched believability a bit.

Highly recommended!

The Wrong Man is released in Australia on 3 July 2024. There does not seem to be release dates for overseas at the moment.

Lies And Deception by Laraine Stephens (Level Best Books, 2 July 2024)

Melbourne author Laraine Stephens has been turning out some good historical crime fiction with little fanfare or attention.

Her latest novel, Lies And Deception (Level Best Books, 2 July 2024), is another enjoyable romp with crime reporter Reggie da Costa through 1920s Melbourne, with plenty of mystery and illuminating historical detail.

Melbourne 1925. Jasper Howard is found stabbed to death in his room at The Hotel Windsor. In a bizarre twist, he is clutching a tarot card, the Ten of Swords, in his right hand. Initially, the police identify him as a wealthy investor and a cousin of the Duke of Norfolk. However, while investigating the murder for The Argus, Reggie uncovers a web of lies and deception surrounding Howard’s carefully constructed façade. It seems that Howard was engaged in swindling wealthy businessmen whilst blackmailing their wives, leaving a host of suspects for the murder. Enlivened by what he discovers, Reggie embarks on a crusade to rid the city of confidence men and ‘snake oil’ salesmen, while tracking down a killer.

Snake oil cures, confidence men, fortune telling and murder! Laraine Stephens is in fine form with her fourth novel. Set in a well imagined historical Melbourne, Lies and Deception is a fast moving and highly entertaining mystery that contains just the right amount of fascinating side detail.  I particularly liked the various devices and dodgy medicines that the scam artists were trying to sell, especially the Cocaine Toothache Drops for Children!

Full of twists and surprises, it is a very engaging novel that will appeal to fans of Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher novels. A good fun read!

Lies And Deception is available on Kindle in Australia and the United States from 2 July 2024 for a very reasonable price!

Woman, Missing by Sherryl Clark (HQ, 3 July 2024)

Sherryl Clark’s Woman, Missing, (HQ, 3 July 2024), looks like being a break-out book for an Australian/New Zealand author who has not attracted a lot of attention to date.

Woman, Missing features a new central character for Sherryl in the form of Lou Alcott a fledging PI who had to leave the police force under a cloud after attacking a domestic violence perpetrator.

Thanks to her grandfather Hamish, a notorious Melbourne crime boss who is trying to go legitimate, Lou has a new job with a local private eye agency. On her first day she draws two cases helping at-risk women. First there’s Diane Paterson, who has apparently left her husband without a word. Who should Lou believe? The charmingly distraught husband, Diane’s suspicious parents, or the freezer full of lovingly prepared food left behind?

Then a house security check for an isolated young woman who is convinced her abusive ex is stalking her again turns worrisome when she fails to show up for their meeting. Lou reports Melinda’s odd disappearance to the police, but with no signs of a struggle she fears they’re not able to act quickly enough. Lou keeps digging until she unearths chilling evidence that puts her in the hot seat. Suddenly she is embroiled in a cat-and-mouse-game where there will only be one survivor.

I keenly read Woman, Missing over the course of a weekend. The story generally moves along at a brisk pace and the writing is light and engaging. The plot is nicely balanced, with the steady progress of Lou’s investigations being spiced up by flashes of violence from her grandfather’s involvement in a bloody gang war with an old nemesis. The domestic violence and perils of online dating aspects add some depth to the story, and it moves quickly to a succession of exciting finales. There are not a lot of twists to the plot, but the mystery elements are well worked out and there is a clever irony to the conclusion of one of the plot elements.

Adding to the enjoyment, Lou is an interesting and engaging central character, who reaches conclusions through good detective work and hands-on research, rather than unbelievable leaps of intuition. In all, Woman, Missing is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that hopefully marks the beginning of a new series.

Woman, Missing is released in Australia on 3 July 2024. It is also available on Kindle and Audible in the United States on the same date.


I recently highlighted my pick of the crime and thriller releases over the second half of the year, including some Australian books:

However, the following four books which I just came aware of could have also been easily added to that list. Three of them are firmly in the outback noir category, but there is also another historical crime novel by Kiwi author D. V. Bishop.

When It Rains by Dave Warner (Fremantle Press, 1 October 2024)

It is easy to become a bit  blasé about the flood of outback crime novels, but when the book is from veteran Western Australian author Dave Warner you know that it is going to be good.

When It Rains, (Fremantle Press, 1 October 2024), is the fourth book by Warner to feature Broome detective Dan Clements, and seems to promise the usual mixture of solid plotting, credible characters and vivid descriptions of Broome and the surrounding outback:

“In a town full of crime and swamps full of crocodiles, Dan Clement has his hands full with a free-spirited new girlfriend and a secret that won’t stay submerged for long.

For Broome detective Dan Clement, it seems that crime is as plentiful as wet season rain. When his sergeant is beaten up, and a woman is brutally assaulted, it seems like the same two suspects are behind both incidents. But when a woman’s hand is discovered in crocodile-infested waters, things take a macabre turn. The stakes rise sky-high as Dan races against time to solve this complex and puzzling case.”

I am really looking forward to this one, which features another outstanding cover by the crew at Fremantle Press.

Opal by Patricia Wolf (Echo Publishing, 1 October 2024)

Also with a striking cover is Opal, (Echo Publishing, 1 October 2024), by Patricia Wolf.

Patricia Wolf is a curious author. She grew up in Queensland and now lives in Berlin. A respected overseas journalist, Patricia has written for a number of newspapers and magazines. Her first two novels, Outback and Paradise, seemed to have originally been very successful in the United Kingdom, mainly on Kindle, and have recently been picked up by Australian publisher Echo Publishing.

Opal is the third book in her series about DS Lucas Walker and finds the detective stuck in a small mining community in outback Queensland:

“DS Lucas Walker is off duty. His young half-sister Grace is visiting from Boston, and he’s supposed to be spending time with her at his home in Caloodie in outback Queensland. But instead they’ve driven 400 kilometres west to the tiny mining town of Kanpara to pick up Walker’s cousin Blair, who’s been digging for boulder opals and is suddenly very keen to get out. It’s not like Blair to quit so easily. Walker has the definite sense that something is off. 

On their arrival, the atmosphere is already tense with rumours of a life-changing opal discovery. The following day, they awake to find that Kanpara has been completely cut off by a flood and the roads will be closed for days. As they take in their predicament, Blair receives a shocking phone call.  

 A man and a woman have been found brutally murdered.  

The murdered woman’s husband is an immediate suspect, but Walker isn’t convinced. Could the killings be connected to the rumoured opal find? When the police take Blair in for questioning, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Walker. He must now work with his fellow officers to uncover the killer in the community’s midst before the waters recede and make escape possible. Can he unravel the mystery quickly enough to save his cousin and keep Grace safe?”  

After turns in the Queensland outback and the Gold Coast, Patricia moves her tourist crime series to an opal mining town. It sounds good and I am very interested in reading this one.

High Wire by Candice Fox (Penguin, 24 September 2024)

Also set in outback Australia is High Wire, (Penguin, 24 September 2024), by the incredibly prolific Candice Fox.

By my reckoning this will be the third book by Candice this year after the collaboration effort with James Patterson, Murder Inn, and her stand alone New York thriller, Devil’s Kitchen.

Fox is becoming well known for her high voltage crime thrillers and High Wire seems to offer more of the same:

You only take the High Wire if you’re desperate – or up to no good.

A notorious unmarked track through outback Australia, the ‘Wire’ crosses slabs of lawless land, body-dumping grounds and mobile-phone blackspots.

Harvey Buck is certainly desperate. Racing to be with his dying girlfriend, he encounters Clare Holland, whose car has broken down. He offers the hapless traveller a ride . . . and then their nightmare begins.

The pair are ambushed by a vengeful crew – and strapped into bomb vests. As part of a deadly game, Harvey and Clare are forced to commit a series of increasingly murderous missions, or else be blown to smithereens.

Senior Sergeant Edna Norris is dealing with a runaway teenager; not an unusual job in a place where people go to disappear. But an unfolding crime spree turns this outback cop’s night into a fight for survival. Hot on Harvey and Clare’s trail, Edna finds a burnt-out car, a missing woman, a bank robbery and a bullet-riddled body.

And this road trip from hell has only just begun.”

High Wire is released in Australia on 24 September 2024. Release dates for overseas do not seem to be available at the moment.

Here is the link to my review of Hell’s Kitchen from earlier this year:

A Divine Fury by D. V. Bishop (Macmillan, 24 September 2024)

Finally, offering something different is A Divine Fury (Macmillan, 24 September 2024) by well respected New Zealand author D. V. Bishop.

Bishop’s first historical crime novel, City Of Vengeance, won the New Zealand Booklovers Award for best novel and his second book about Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of Florence’s criminal court, The Darkness Sin, won the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Historical Dagger.

His latest book continues the adventures of Cesare Aldo in Renaissance Italy.

“Florence. Autumn, 1539.

Cesare Aldo was once an officer for the city’s most feared criminal court. Following a period of exile, he is back, but demoted to the night patrol, when only the drunk and the dangerous roam the streets.

Chasing a suspect in the rain, Aldo discovers a horrifying scene beneath Michelangelo’s statue of David. Lifeless eyes gaze from the face of a man whose body has been posed as if crucified. It’s clear the killer had religious motives. When more bodies appear, Aldo believes an unholy murderer is stalking the citizens of Florence. Watching. Hunting. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike again.”

I am currently reading Bishop’s Ritual Of Fire and really enjoying it. I am looking forward to Aldo’s further adventures in A Divine Fury.

A Divine Fury is released in Australia on 24 September 2024. It is already available in the United Kingdom.

So some good criminal reading to kick start your July. The Tim Ayliffe and Sarah Clark books are particularly good, and I am really looking forward to the new novel by Dave Warner. Happy reading!


  1. Thanks Jeff!

  2. Thanks for the review – much appreciated!!

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