Local Crime Writers’ Book Picks for the Summer Holidays By Julie Fison

December 5, 2023

With Christmas and the summer holidays just a few short weeks away, the promise of some delicious uninterrupted reading time is beckoning. But how does anyone choose from the hundreds of amazing books that have just hit the shelves? I asked some local crime writer friends for their recommendations. As you will discover, not everyone is looking for a light beach read. There is a good mix of genres to add to your Christmas wish list.

Poppy Gee, author of Tasmanian-noir crime stories Bay of Fires and Vanishing Falls, recommends Michelle Upton’s brand-new book Emergency Exit Only – an uplifting and heart-warming story about a woman who has played it safe all of her life. When a minor accident lands her in hospital, she decides to quit her boring job and sets out to find her dream career. The perfect book for those looking for a fun holiday read.

Allie Reynolds, author of international best-selling thrillers Shiver and The Bay, recommends former law academic Claire Baylis’s gripping courtroom drama Dice. The story, set in New Zealand, is told from the point of view of the jurors in a sexual assault case. Four teenage boys invent a sex game based on the toss of a dice and are later charged with sexual offences. How will twelve women and men of different ages, backgrounds and beliefs decide whether consent was given or crimes were committed? An important and thought-provoking novel, perfect for fans of Kia Abdullah.

Joanna Jenkins, author of legal thriller How to Kill a Client, recommends Madeleine Gray’s beautifully writer debut novel Green Dot, which tells the story of a young Sydney-sider whose friends seem to have slipped effortlessly into adulthood, while she has so far accrued an ex-girlfriend, several hundred hangovers and a dog-eared novel collection. It explores the ennui of twenty-somethings, the allure of chasing something that promises nothing and the tortuous journey to find who we are.

Sara Bragg, writer, editor and authors’ website designer, can’t wait to get stuck into Terry Hayes new geopolitical thriller The Year of the Locust – the long-awaited follow up to international bestseller I am Pilgrim. The book promises an action-packed spy story as CIA
agent Ridley Kane is sent to Iran to prevent a global terrorist plot and comes up against an adversary prepared to take the world to the brink of extinction. Strap in for a high-octane ride with this one!

Sally Piper, award winning author of Grace’s Table, The Geography of Friendship and Bone Memories, recommends Lucy Treloar’s latest novel, Days of Wonder and Innocence. The novel tells of a young woman who has lived in the shadow of the abduction of a childhood friend. It is a moving study of the long tail of grief, guilt and shame. In true Lucy Treloar style, place is strongly and beautifully represented in the work, while her characters (and it’s quite a sizable cast) are meticulously crafted with insight and authenticity. The novel is a cracking read – fast-paced but also a tender exploration of things that can break the human spirit and the forces of good which can restore it.

Sally also recommends Irish novelist Claire Keegan, whose writing is restrained yet still harbours a rich and complex subtext. Her latest work So Late in the Day is a very quick read, but an insightful study of relationships and the importance of generosity. Her previous novel – Small Things Like These, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize, is a tale of courage, and its costs, in Catholic Ireland. I am also a massive fan of Claire Keegan’s books. And this one is an absolute gem. Short, quiet, but incredibly powerful.

And my suggestion for the holidays: Miles Franklin award winner Melissa Lucashenko’s latest novel Edenglassie. (A book that Sally Piper also recommends.) The novel weaves a tale between current times and 1850s Brisbane when First Nations people outnumbered colonists. The novel tells two love stories, set five generations apart, and delivers a fresh perspective on Goorie resistance – all told with Melissa Lucashenko’s trademark straight- talking wit. The title of the book comes from the name given to the early Brisbane settlement – a blend of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which reflects the origin of the early colonists. If you’re looking for something weighty, but highly entertaining, make sure you put this one on your wish list!

A big thank you to Poppy Gee, Allie Reynolds, Joanna Jenkins, Sara Bragg and Sally Piper for their recommendations. If you are still looking for inspiration, rush to your local book shop and grab one of their novels. These authors deal with crime in very different ways – some write suspenseful thrillers, other explore the consequences of crime – but they are all exceptionally talented writers!

Happy Reading!

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