THIS WEEK’S CANBERRA WEEKLY COLUMN: 20 AUGUST 2020 – DEADLY PODCASTS!
In this week’s Canberra Weekly I review three crime novels which draw on the current fascination with true crime podcasts and documentaries.
First up is Charlie Donlea’s The Suicide House, which is another highly entertaining novel by one of the brightest new talents on the American crime fiction scene. In the Canberra Weekly I said:
Charlie Donlea is one of my favourite crime authors and is very adept at weaving true crime elements into his entertaining novels. In The Suicide House the detective paring of Rory Moore and famed profiler Lane Phillips are hired to assist on a true crime podcast about the massacre of two students by a teacher at an elite Indiana boarding school. The case is officially closed, but suspicions are raised by the string of suicides which have occurred in its wake. Donlea excels in this sort of multiple viewpoint crime novel which quickly grabs the reader’s attention and keeps them happily reading until the surprising climax.
The second book was The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, a rising star on the Australian crime fiction scene:
Australian author Megan Goldin burst onto the American crime scene last year with her bestselling chiller The Escape Room. She has now returned with the even better The Night Swim, about a popular true crime podcaster, Rachel Krall, who goes to a small North Carolina coastal town to cover a controversial rape trial. Whilst there she becomes caught up in a cold case investigation about the drowning of a teenager twenty five years before. This well plotted and immensely engaging novel provides plenty of twists and suspense, while also exploring themes of abuse, small town mentality and sexual stereotyping. Highly recommended.
I also did a longer review on both The Suicide House and The Night Swim back on 5 August 2020: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/deadly-podcasts-the-suicide-house-by-charlie-donlea-the-night-swim-by-megan-goldin/
The final books was S J Watson’s Final Cut. Like Donlea and Goldin, Watson uses the framing device of having a documentary film maker revisit an old crime, in this case the disappearance of two, and maybe three, young girls from a small English coastal town of Blackwood Bay. The story is told through the eyes of the film maker, Alex, who Watson establishes very early on as being an unreliable narrator with more than a few secrets in her past.
As with Watson’s bestselling Before I Go To Sleep, memory loss and the unreliability of recollections plays an important part in the novel, as does the darkness which can lie just under the placid surface of small local towns.
The pacing is a little slow, but the book builds to a very tense conclusion and a string of startling revelations. In the Canberra Weekly, I said:
In S. J. Watson’s Final Cut a film maker, Alex, heads to the decaying Yorkshire seaside town of Blackwood Bay to shoot a documentary about the former bustling community and the disappearance of two girls years before. The locals, however, are suspicious of her intentions and Alex soon finds herself entangled in an old mystery and under threat. Watson skilfully combines the usual crime novel tropes of dual timelines, a potentially unreliable female narrator, cold cases and the current fascination with true crime documentaries to produce an intriguing novel that steadily draws you in and keeps you interested. An enjoyable mystery.
In all, three quite enjoyable books, with Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim probably being the pick of them.
Thanks to the publishers and the Canberra Weekly for advanced copies of the books for review.
A link to the review on the Canberra Weekly website can be found here: https://canberraweekly.com.au/book-talk-deadly-podcast-novels/