CategoryThe Reading List

This reading list is a contribution to the sharing of books. All sorts of books make their way to my bedside table. Some are sent, some recommended, some given as gifts or lent by someone who has enjoyed reading them.

Others (let’s be frank – many) I see on a bookstore shelf, find irresistible and bring home. A few of these become family members who may not leave my bookshelf, but can be read by guests who stay. Some wander on to other homes and hearts.

If you have books you’d like to talk about contact me via the web contact form.

LJM Owen – The Great Divide

Echo, Australia, 2019

LJM Owen is the Director of the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet Tasmania and will appear at the festival between 1 and 3 November 2019.

LJ departs from her inter-millenial sleuth series to introduce us to a new hero, Jake Hunter, in a dark tale of decades of child abuse in a small fictitious Tasmanian town called Dunton.

Leaving his police job in Melbourne to escape a personal drama, Jake thinks his posting to Dunton will be a chance for a quiet time to regroup and consider his future, enjoy the peace and mind-space of the rural setting and do some rock climbing.

Barbie talks to LJM Owen about The Great Divide
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Livia Day – Keep Calm and Kill the Chef

Deadlines, an imprint of Twelfth Planet Press, Australia 2019

Livia Day, who also writes as Tansy Rayner Roberts, will appear at the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet Tasmania from 1 to 3 November 2019.

This is a cozy café crime novel and hence about murder and some mayhem, but it is also a book about friendships, both female and male-female.

We are treated to lots of fun in this somewhat kooky and very youthful novel, the fourth in the Café la Femme series. You don’t need to have read the previous three, but this has whetted my appetite to do so.

Barbie talks with Livia Day
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Angela Meyer – A Superior Spectre

Ventura Press, Australia, 2018
Angela Meyer will appear at the Terror Australis festival in Cygnet Tasmania between 1 and 3 November 2019

Richly redolent of Mann and Kafka, this is a disturbing surreal debut novel by Angela Meyer.

Two principal characters  occupy this story – Leonora Duncan in the 1860s in Scotland and the person we eventually learn to be Jeff in a just slightly future present, a dying man who moves from Australia to Scotland to escape his own life and the possible surveillance of the unnamed authorities. He is in search of release and freedom in a way, but is unable to govern his own parasitic desires.

Angela Meyer talks to Barbie about A Superior Spectre
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Joanna Nell – The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker

Hachette, Australia, 2019

Joanna Nells’ second novel is a sensitive, gently humorous story that takes us into the mind of a woman with dementia.

To say this baldly however does scant justice to a beautiful work in which the story of a life unfolds both through the failing mind of Mrs Henry Parker and those around her on the Golden Sunset cruise ship.

Mrs Parker spends most of this story looking for her husband Henry, who has mysteriously disappeared from the ship (perhaps, she thinks) or perhaps she just keeps missing him as their paths fail to cross. We know there is something going on but we are not allowed to know what until the very end – satisfyingly.

Joanna Nell talks about The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker
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Tara Moss – Dead Man Switch

Harper Collins, Australia , 2019
Tara Moss will appear at Terror Australis Festival, 1 to 3 November 2019 in Cygnet Tasmania

Dead Man Switch is Tara Moss’s first foray into historical crime fiction, set in Sydney in 1946. It is her twelfth novel and introduces us to a new character, Private Investigator Ms Billie Walker.

(And yes, Wiki tells us that Ms was an acceptable abbreviation for Mistress, in England, in the 17th and 18thcenturies, which then enjoyed a revival in the 20th century, a surprise to all of us who thought it was a modern phenomenon.)

Barbit talks with Tara Moss about Dead Man Switch
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Sulari Gentill on Bouchercon and the Terror Australis Festival

What is Bouchercon and why are Sulari Gentill and three fellow writers, Emma Viskic, Jock Serong and Robert Gott, going there?

Bouchercon® is the annual world mystery convention. Readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers and other lovers of crime fiction gather for 4 days of education, entertainment, and fun.

Sulari Gentill talks about Bouchercon and the Terror Australis Festival
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Angela Savage – The Dying Beach

Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 2013

Angela Savage will appear at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet Tasmania 1 to 3 November 2019

Angela Savage is the Director of Writers Victoria. She is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar, won the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

Savage is a winner of the Scarlett Stiletto Award and has twice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards.

Barbie talks to Angela Savage about The Dying Beach
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Joanna Baker – The Slipping Place

Impact Press, an imprint of Ventura Press, Australia, 2017

Joanna Baker will be at the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet, Tasmania, from 31 October to 3 November 2019

This is a story about motherly love and family, clothed in a dark tale of violence, betrayals and secrets. We are taken deeply into the lives of two women, friends Veronica, an artist, and Lesley, a gallerist.

Whilst the story could well have been called ‘Looking for Roland’, as much of the novel has Veronica in search of her elusive son, its title The Slipping Place holds a much greater meaning than its role as the name of a place the women visited with their sons during their childhood.

Joanna Baker talks to Barbie about The Slipping Place
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Dorothy Johnston – Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune

For Pity Sake Publishing, Australia, 2019

Dorothy Johnston will be in the Hall of Writers at Terror Australia Festival on Friday 1 November 10am to 4pm, Cygnet Town Hall, with publisher Jen McDonald and fellow For Pity Sake writer Sara Dowse (
As the lonely fly, 2019).

Declared interest: Barbie Robinson, who wrote this blog, is the designer for the internals of this book.

The many fans of Dorothy Johnston’s sea-change mysteries will not be disappointed by this third novel. It’s atmospheric, a little bit creepy and strange, but as with its two predecessors,  imbued with a sense of place – in this case, the small seaside town of Queenscliff Victoria, but it could, I guess, be any small seaside town. They have their secrets and silences.

Barbie talks with Dorothy Johnston about Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune
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Shamini Flint – Inspector Singh Investigates: A Frightfully English Execution

Piatkus, Great Britain, 2016
Shamini Flint will be at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet 1 to 3 November 2019.

This is the seventh in the Inspector Singh series. Where have you been all my life, Inspector Singh?

Inspector Singh is a Sikh policeman based in Singapore, but his investigations take him far afield, this time to London. His presence in London, ostensibly, is to take part in a Commonwealth conference on policing and community relations.

Barbie speaks to Shamini Flint
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Kerry Greenwood – Murder and Mendelssohn

Phryne Fisher’s 20th mystery
Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2013
Kerry Greenwood will appear at Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet 1 to 3 November 2019

This is a book about love.  

In the best tradition of crime fiction, we do have a body in the first three pages. We also have, deftly drawn, Phryne in all her fashionable splendour and intellectual acuity, her side-kick and favourite policeman Jack Robinson, significant members of her household – Dot, Mr Butler (the butler) and Ember (the cat) and by reference Sergeant Hugh Collins, Dot’s beau.

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Lindy Cameron – Golden Relic

Clan Destine Press, Victoria, Australia, 2007
First published by Harper Collins Australia 1998
Lindy Cameron will appear at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet 1-3 November 2019

I do not know how the readers of the original version of this story waited a month for each chapter. Golden Relic was commissioned by Museum Victoria and written for the International Council of Museums 1998. Lindy Cameron was selected from four crime writers to write a murder mystery by instalments to publicise the conference – the brief was to promote the city of Melbourne, the museum and the event.

Bsrbie talks to Lindy Cameron
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David Owen – Why Neville shot Gus

Fullers Publishing, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2019

First conceived some years ago, Why Neville shot Gus is at once a crime novella and an exercise in the principles of crime writing – by someone who has taught the craft. It would spoil the story to go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that David Owen takes us through his usual circuitous paths drawing disparate threads to a satisfying denouement.

We meet each character in some detail as the story proceeds, without always having an inkling of connections but knowing there is one that will be revealed. The disconnected threads do weave together though and the titular character of Neville eventually yields his bigger story.

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David Owen – Big Red Rock

Fullers Publishing, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2017

This is the ninth of David Owen’s Pufferfish series, a complex winding story which delves into all kinds of seedy and nasty aspects of criminal activity and human behavior without, however, giving us the creeps. It is David Owen’s rich sense of humour that keeps us grounded in this story of murder, violence, cruelty, drugs, deception and betrayal.

Whilst humour is not necessarily part of crime fiction, it seems that the best of the genre’s authors demonstrate a healthy sense of not taking themselves entirely seriously.

Barbie speaks with David Owen about Big Red Rock
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Suzanne Edgar – Catching the Light

Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, 2019

This is Suzanne Edgar’s fourth solo collection of verse. Divided into sections that lead us through a kind of story line, it is a collection of intimate vignettes, in which there is remembrance and much pain along with conscious happiness. These are intimate poems in which the writer has allowed us to glimpse her vulnerable joys and sorrows.

The sections are: The healing light, Where two walls meet, True minds, Watchers, For want of a spoon and Water sleekly falls.

Suzanne Edgar talks about and reads from Catching the Light
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