Friday 29 December 2023

Book Review: Fat, Fifty & Fu*ked by Geoffrey McGeachin

 Fat, Fifty & Fu*ked


Geoffrey McGeachin

20th Anniversary Edition

Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Publication date: Rereleased on 13th November 2023 
Genre: Crime / Humour
Pages: 232
RRP: $32.95 (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Fat, Fifty & Fu*ked

Set in the fictitious small country town of Burrinjuruk, Fat, Fifty and Fu*ked is the quintessential Australian novel. The small town is dying since the main road was diverted and the local bank is the latest business to be closed down. Get ready for the ride of your life with an armed hold-up, murder,  mayhem, benevolent bikies, Government cover-ups and a madcap journey in a sidecar.
Martin Carter's life couldn't get any lower. His wife is playing the field, his step-children hate him and the bank he manages is closing today; his fiftieth birthday.
With a mid-life crisis looming Martin decides to hold up the armoured car delivering the payouts for the local miners. He steals a police car and goes on the run. Along the way he meets up with Faith, an ex-librarian ready to have some fun.

Originally published in 2003, and re-released this year by Clan Destine Press, McGeachin decided to stick with the year 2000 setting. It was a simpler time before smartphones, limited social media and the search for the perfect cup of coffee.

It is very easy to like Martin, the underdog, and barrack for him along the way. Faith is also a fabulous character, putting her librarian smarts to use throughout the journey.

Fat, Fifty & Fu*ked is fast-paced, witty, wild and outrageously funny, served with a side dish of romance.
It's a book I found hard to put down wanting to know how Martin and Faith would get out of this mess.

Fat, Fifty & Fu*ked is the funniest book I have read in a while.

My rating 5 / 5  不不不不不

Sunday 24 December 2023

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from The Burgeoning Bookshelf - 2023

 A big thank you to all my followers for all your support. I will be back soon with my 2023 challenge update (let's see how I went). Until then have a wonderful Christmas and I hope you find a favourite book, or two, under the Christmas tree.
I know, on my last review, I promised that a giveaway would be coming soon and I haven't forgotten. Last week I was struck down by the dreaded Covid and spent a few days in hospital so all my reading and reviewing has been sidelined while I rest and recover. 

Not having read anything for well over a week I started on Jo Dixon's latest offering A Shadow at the Door (which will be released on 3rd January 2024) and I can assure you it's going to be another massive hit for Jo. Jo's debut was The House of Now and Then which I rated 5 stars.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Book Review: For Once in My Life by Karly Lane

 For Once in My Life


Karly Lane

Sometimes love can show up in the most unexpected places
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 28th November 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 363
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

 Review: For Once in My Life

For Once in My Life is another huge success from author Karly Lane.
I absolutely enjoyed everything about this story!

The main character, Jenny, is easy to warm to. Jenny is turning fifty and after a very hectic two years, post divorce, getting her life back on track she is ready to relax a little. However her three grown daughters, who have all returned home after differing life events, decide mum needs to have some fun, maybe even find love again. The girls secretly set up a dating profile for their mum and start chatting and setting up dates with potential love interests.
We follow Jenny on her dates, all at the local pub, most are a disaster and she is a little embarrassed and a little annoyed that the cute barman seems to be taking it all in.

Jenny is such a lovely person and wonderful mum and grandmother. She was so patient with her daughters' antics. There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments throughout the story and most are at Jenny's expense but she comes across as the sort of person who would be mortified one minute and laughing along the next.

As with all Karly's books, between the humour and flirting, there are many pertinent themes explored, such as; reviving small country towns, restaurants sourcing local food, small-town gossip, age gap relationships and life after divorce.

For Once in My Life (honestly, I can't get that Stevie Wonder song out of my head) is engaging and fun, a feel good story not to be missed.

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have giveaways coming soon - stay tuned!

Thursday 30 November 2023

Book Review: Deep in the Forest by Erina Reddan

Deep in the Forest


Erina Reddan

What lies behind the walls of the Sanctuary? 
Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication date: 28th November 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 296
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPRMedia

Review: Deep in the Forest

Deep in the Forest by Erina Reddan is a fascinating story rich in secrets, lies and betrayal. Filled  with simmering menace it has me hooked from start to finish.

Town pariah Charli Trethan is fed up with being blamed for a crime she didn't commit and plans to leave Stone Lake for a new life overseas.
A gruesome discovery just a few weeks before she is due to leave sees her under police scrutiny again. Then Charli finds a hidden message, a cry for help, from someone within the nearby closed community called The Sanctuary. 

Narrated in first person by Charli who has bouts of depression, I found myself questioning her actions and reasoning. Erina Reddan had me reeling back and forward with who could be trusted and what the truth was.

Reddan digs deep into communal living and exactly how voluntary joining a cult is when they prey on the vulnerable.

Deep in the Forest starts out at a slow pace as the scene is set but as the story twists and turns and the suspense ramps up it had me questioning what I thought was true right up to the adrenaline fuelled ending.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you are on Instagram you can follow along on the blog tour below:


Wednesday 29 November 2023

Book Review: The Goldminer's Sister by Alison Stuart

The Goldminer's Sister


Alison Stuart

Gold is a fever. Will it lead her to love ..... or death? 
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 8th July 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 381
RRP: $29.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

Review: The Goldminer's Sister

In The Goldminer's Sister, Alison Stuart deftly evokes the attitudes and nuances of 1800's Australia.
Set in the goldfields of country Victoria, Stuart depicts the small towns of the late 1800's with startling clarity.
Eliza sails from the UK to Australia, after her mother's death, to be with her brother, Will. It isn't until she arrives in Maiden's Creek that she learns of her brother's accidental death and her Uncle offers her lodgings.

Eliza's curiosity over her brother's death starts to mount as she gets to know more people in the town and she begins to wonder why her uncle is so keen to be rid of her.
Mysteries start to appear right from the start of the book and as the story progresses the mysteries deepen and an element of suspense is added. The Goldmines are a dangerous place for women however Eliza will not back down, she is outspoken and feisty. Stuart's characterisation is perfect, Eliza is well formed and believable.
The introduction of Alec, a man of honour, Will's friend and mine manager, gives a good balance to the other lecherous men and introduces an element of romance.
The Goldminer's Sister is a fabulous read, rich in mystery and danger, theft and deception, showing how profit quite often came before people's lives.
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Challenges: Mount TBR challenge


Saturday 25 November 2023

Book Review: The Girls by Chloe Higgins

 The Girls


Chloe Higgins

A memoir of family, grief and sexuality

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 27th August 2019
Genre: Non fiction / Memoir
Pages: 320
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Girls

When Chloe was seventeen she and her mother stayed home, so she could study for HSC exams, whilst her father took her two younger sisters on a ski trip. On the way back from the trip the car was involved in an accident and burst into flames. Both the sisters were killed.
The Girls is what followed, for Chloe, after that fatal day.
I find it very hard to review memoirs, especially those that involve grief and mental illness as I've never had this extreme level of grief.  
I appreciated that Chloe was candid in her writing. It is no use writing a memoir if you are only going to write the good stuff and gloss over the bad. It's all included; the drugs, the sex and the bouts of depression.
The words flow and her writing is easy to read even though the content is tough.
The story jumps around a lot in time and sometimes I found the time stamp hard to figure out.

I am glad writing this book has helped Chloe work through her own grief and by the end of the book I was pleased she was starting to heal.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Challenges: TBR challenge
                    Non-fiction challenge

Book Review: Vendetta by Sarah Barrie



Sarah Barrie

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 15th November 2023
Series: Lexi Winter #3
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 400
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Vendetta

The much anticipated Lexi Winter #3 is here! 

In Vendetta by Sarah Barrie Lexi finds herself with no one to turn to for help, once again relying on her hacking skills to keep herself alive. It is not only Lexi's life that is at stake.

Dawny is back in book 3 and she is in fine form. Her quick wit and sarcasm cracks me up.

Lexi is still not sure if the police force is the right job for her when people from her past pop up again in her life.
Lexi didn't disappoint! She was tough and wanted it all her way, she doesn't concede to anyone, police or criminal.
The suspense ramps up as the pages turn and I was worried this could be the case that destroys Lexi.

The book ends on a teaser which makes me feel that the next book is  going to be even more heart-stopping - if that's possible!!

Vendetta is fast-paced and suspenseful, readers following the Lexi Winter series will not be disappointed.

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other books in the series:

Saturday 18 November 2023

Book Review: The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman

 The Land Beyond the Sea


Sharon Penman

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 28th January 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 672
RRP: $32.99 (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Land Beyond the Sea

I do love historical fiction however I tend more towards books set in the 1900's to 1950's. The Land Beyond the Sea is set in the 12th Century, not my usual read but I loved the whole saga, the politics, betrayals, murder, wars, raids, arranged marriages and allegiances. It's all there!
The social standing and hierarchy of the time is well portrayed.

At 672 pages The Land Beyond the Sea is a big book however there is always something new happening, which kept me invested in the lives of the characters.

"Sharon Penman's The Land Beyond the Sea tells the epic tale of a clash of cultures that will resonate with readers today."
There is also a handy list of characters in the front of the book and at the back is an afterword, author's note, acknowledgments and sources of research.
my rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Author Interview: Fleur McDonald


Today I would like to welcome author Fleur McDonald to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

Hello Fleur, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 Hi, I’m Fleur and I live on the south coast of WA in a beautiful little coastal town called Esperance. I’m a farmer and a writer, with a couple of adult kids and a Kelpie as sidekicks.


What does your typical day look like?

 I’m an early riser and like getting up between 4 and 4:30am. I have a coffee on the back verandah and then go on a five to seven kilometre walk. What happens after that depends on where I am in the writing cycle. I can sit at the computer for the whole day, or I can spend a couple of hours there. Social media takes up a fair bit of time and I’m the secretary/event coordinator for our two day agricultural show. The show takes up half a day every week from February to November.

If I’m on a deadline, that’s when I’ll spend the whole day at the computer.

Being an earlier riser, I head to bed early too. 8pm is a late night for me.


Your books are primarily about farming, women in farming, small communities and the challenges they face - what inspired you to write about these topics?

 I’ve been working in the agricultural industry since I left school which was 32 years ago! I grew up in a small country town and I have a really good working knowledge of these towns, farming and women in agriculture. It’s really important to me that what I write about is authentic and these are topics I can write about with a deep knowledge which I hope keeps people turning the pages.


Your latest book Voices in the Dark was released on 31st October - how did you come up with themes explored in Voices in the Dark?

 Hmm, interesting question, because I’m not really sure. I guess some of my friends and I are at the time of our lives when our parents are getting older and we want them cared for safely. Rural areas miss out on lots of services that the city people have and we are severely lacking in services for the elderly who need care.

Small towns simply don’t have services that are able to care for people in their homes and if the town does have a nursing home, it might only cater to the fit and healthy, not people who have got extra medical problems, like dementia or needing special equipment to help move them around.

I also volunteer delivering meals-on-wheels and I see the extremes that families go to, to keep their loved ones in their own homes. 


What would you like your readers to get out of Voices in the Dark?

 A lot of entertainment and escapism. The world is so full of horrible actions at the moment and I’d love to be able to help someone have a nice few hours


What were the key challenges you faced when writing Voices in the Dark?

 I don’t think there were any.


I can’t let a chance go by without asking a question about everyone’s hero, Dave Burrows.

Young Dave Burrows is a tough, relentless, undercover detective, all about the job however the older Dave Burrows has mellowed, he’s a lot more forgiving and shows a lot more emotion. Was this a conscious change or simply an organic evolution?

 I think people change and grow as they get more life experience under their belt. What could have been black and white when people were younger, isn’t always as you get older and can see lots of different points of view. Dave has had many life experiences which help with that, but also his wife, Kim has had a large impact on Dave. Kim always finds the good in people and life and she’s slowly educated Dave to that way of thinking too.

Mentoring younger police officers has had an impact as well. Dave has realised he has to watch his own behaviour in order to be a good role model.


Just for fun…..either or?

Tea or Coffee: Coffee

Summer or Winter: Winter 

Dog or Cat: Dog

City or Country: Country 

Morning person or Night owl: Morning person

Paperback or eBook: Paperback

Ninjas or Pirates: pirates!

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.


  Voices in the Dark is out now and should be in bookstores all over the country. 

About the book:

Sassi Stapleton is called home after news her grandmother is unwell. Less than an hour away from her hometown, Barker, she swerves to miss a roo and her car rolls down an embankment and she's left hanging. By the time she is found, her grandmother has already passed away.

Sassi's mother, Amber, returns from South Africa, and as soon as she arrives family tensions between her and her brother, Abe, are back in the forefront of everyone's minds.

When it quickly becomes clear that Sassi's grandfather Mr Stapleton is unable to live alone, the hunt is on to find a carer. Rasha enters the family home, firmly entrenching herself as someone they can't do without, and before long Mr Stapleton is happier than he has been in years.

Then bruises start appearing on Mr Stapleton and he becomes withdrawn, refusing to talk even to Sassi.

None of the family are convinced that Rasha could hurt anyone. Amber is his daughter; Sassi, his granddaughter. None of these three could hurt Mr Stapleton.

My review:


Saturday 11 November 2023

Book Review: The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

 The Age of Light


Whitney Scharer

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 12th February 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 375
RRP: 29.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Age of Light

The Age of Light is a fictional rendition of the life of artist Lee Miller, concentrating on the years she spent with Ray Man. After extensive research and finding little is taught about Lee Miller in art history courses Whitney Scharer has written a darkly intoxicating story about the woman behind the man.

The main timeline of the book is the late 1920's and set in a bohemian Paris. Lee has left New York and modelling behind and wants to pursue a career in photography. When Lee meets Man ray they embark upon a passionate affair. Man Keeps Lee close but she doesn't mind as they are working together and experimenting with photographic techniques. As Lee builds her own confidence in her work, Man's jealousy and real personality show.

Lee and Man's affair is totally consuming but it is this affair that suddenly makes Lee realise that it's not her controlling men with her beauty, The men in her life have always controlled her.

There are chapters on Lee's life as a journalist during the war. However these are very short and only give flashing scenes of the horrors that damaged her and caused her withdrawal from society. There are also flashbacks to Lee's childhood showing the trauma that shaped her personality.

I liked Lee and could understand it was her upbringing that made her so aloof. Scharer doesn't play on the bouts of depression that obviously plagued Lee's life instead giving her readers a story of growth and survival in a male dominated world.

The Age of Light was an engrossing read. I read it in a day! It would not only appeal to readers interested in the Arts but anyone who enjoys a good story of betrayal.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Book Review: Voices in the Dark by Fleur McDonald

Voices in the Dark


Fleur McDonald

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 31st October 2023 
Genre: Rural / Suspense
Pages: 368
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPR

Review: Voices in the Dark 

I always eagerly await each new release by Fleur McDonald. Her knowledge of and dedication to small communities, farming and the problems they face shines through in her stories.

Voices in the Dark is a stand alone rural suspense novel featuring country cop Dave Burrows however he is not the main character in this story.

Sassi Stapleton is driving to Barker after a late night call asking her to come immediately as her grandmother is seriously ill. When Sassi doesn't arrive at the expected time, her uncle notifies Dave and the police get into action.
Fleur McDonald packs an emotional punch as the police, ambulance and emergency services work together in a harrowing rescue scene.

Voices in the Dark focuses on the Stapleton family and their struggles to reconnect and get over the demons of the past. There are lots of appearances from characters I have grown to love from previous books. Mia the young constable, Dave and Kim all have strong parts in this story. Lots of well placed backstory keeps new readers up to speed.

Fleur writes magnificent stories about country people, farming and the problems remote areas face but also highlights the special bond small communities have. Even though the gossip abounds they will do anything to help each other.

Voices in the Dark is a story about family secrets, elder abuse, letting go of resentments, moving forward and starting over. 

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Book Review: The Emerald Tablet by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios

The Emerald Tablet


Meaghan Wilson Anastasios

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication day: 25th June 2019
Series: Benedict Hitchens #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
RRP: $29.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Emerald Tablet

Meaghan Wilson Anastasios, using her knowledge as an archaeologist and her time working in the Middle East, has written an atmospheric and riveting story centred around a race to find a mythical emerald tablet that holds the power to destroy mankind.

The Emerald Tablet is set in 1956 during a time of political upheaval in the Middle East as Britain, France and Israel fight over the rights to the Suez Canal.

Benedict Hitchens puts everything on the line as he follows the clues and deciphers the puzzle that presumes to lead to the final resting place of the Emerald Tablet.

The Emerald Tablet was a fabulous read, fast paced, full of twists and rich in danger. I enjoyed following Ben as he found the clues and deciphered each one to move on to the next clue. It was a race against time as the countries he crossed were in the midst of political turmoil and he also had an old foe to beat to the final prize. That is, if the Emerald Tablet is fact and not purely a myth!

Meaghan Wilson Anastasios evokes an astute sense of place and time with lots of history included and extracts from The London Times.

I loved everything about this story; the race, the twists, the suspense, the betrayals and I found it hard to put down as the story sped to the final conclusion.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content: a graphic sex scene
               torture scenes

You can read my review of The Honourable Thief (book #1) at this link:

Monday 6 November 2023

Book Review: Wild and Crazy Guys by Nick De Semlyen

 Wild and Crazy Guys


Nick De Semlyen

How the Comedy Mavericks of the 80's Changed Hollywood Forever

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 11th June 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 336
RRP: $12.99AU (eBook)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Wild and Crazy Guys

I'm sure Wild and Crazy Guys will be enjoyed by anyone interested in celebrity and film trivia.
The book follows the careers of well-known Hollywood stars Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and John Candy from the early days of Saturday Night Live (SNL), an American live television sketch comedy variety show, to the many movies the actors appeared in.
Nick De Semlyen provides a no holds barred behind the scenes look at the friendships, the rivalries, the bust-ups and the tantrums as the book covers their careers during the 70's and 80's.
I didn't know any of the 70's movies mentioned but I did know the actors and the 80's movies they starred in and it was interested to learn how the ideas came up for these movies.

The author describes the inspiration behind many of the movies and comedy acts, detailing not only the successes but also the flops. Many of which were conceived in a drug-fuelled haze.

The book is set out like a documentary, with interviews from the stars themselves, flashbacks and pages of colour-plate photos.

If you are after a bit of nostalgia or are just curious to find out what the comedy of the 80's was all about, Wild and Crazy Guys will not disappoint.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Challenges: Non-Fiction reading challenge
                    TBR challenge

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Book Review: Out of Breath by Anna Snoekstra

 Out of Breath


Anna Snoekstra

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 6th July 2022
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Pages: 320
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Review: Out of Breath

Out of Breath fell a little flat for me. There were a lot of scenes were a sense of foreboding built and then everything was fine. I felt maybe the author was trying to tease the reader with suspense building throughout the novel but it didn't really work for me.
The pace was slow however I did find the plot intriguing. Jo is on a working holiday in Australia and to maintain her Visa she must work as a fruit picker in the outback for a specified number of weeks. When the charismatic Gabe suggests she find the commune he is living on she leaves the farm but Jo soon finds she is in way over her head and she doesn't know who she can trust.
Reader empathy for the main character, Jo, is built up early in the novel and I found myself interested in her journey and wanting her to find peace within herself.
There are many wonderfully described moments throughout; with time on a mango farm, a trip through the Australian outback and deep diving for oysters. I think it was these moments, and the excellent sense of place that Snoekstra evokes, that saved the novel for me.
Out of Breath is an evocative read if you want to experience the remoteness of outback Australia, but I wouldn't really call it a thriller. 

3.5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐½

About the author

Anna Snoekstra is the author of Only Daughter, Little Secrets and The Spite Game. Her novels have been published in over twenty countries and sixteen languages. She has written for The Guardian, Meanjin, The Griffith Review, Lindsay, LiHub and The Saturday Paper.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Book Review: The Sunday Story Club by Doris Brett & Kerry Cue

 The Sunday Story Club


Doris Brett & Kerry Cue

An anthology of stories from the heart
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 25th June 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction / Anthology
Pages: 272
RRP: $32.99 (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Sunday Story Club

The Sunday Story Club is a collection of stories that have evolved from a real life face-to-face gathering of women where through contemplative questions the group have deep and structured conversations about things that really matter.
Doris, a psychologist, author, poet and psychotherapist and Kerry, an author, journalist and mathematician came together to organise a salon at which people could engage in meaningful, in-depth conversations but instead of discussing weighty topics of the day they would discuss their own inner worlds.

The Sunday Story Club is a collection of fifteen questions and ensuing short stories that have been explored at some of their meetings.
I didn't expect to be quite so moved by the stories shared in this book. Each story was unique showing vastly different circumstances but all highlighting resilience, bravery and hard-won wisdom. There are stories included with themes of bullying, dysfunctional families, anorexia, cancer, infertility, depression and self-image; each woman speaks from the heart about her life experiences.

In this busy technical age of emails and texts The Story Book Club is a book to remind us of the power behind real face-to-face conversations to enlighten and heal.

Brett and Cue have also included notes on starting your own story salon and sample questions to steer the conversations.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the authors

Doris Brett is a clinical psychologist as well as multi-award winning author. She his published books in a variety of genres ranging from novels to poetry to memoir, to narrative therapy for children and even a book on bread-baking. She lives in Melbourne with her husband.
Kerry Cue is a humourist, mathematician and journalist who has written for every major newspaper in Australia. Kerry is also the maths blogger, Mathspig. She studied Science/Engineering at Melbourne University and taught maths and science for ten years before becoming a bestselling author of twenty humorous and education books.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Book Review: The Last Line by Stephen Ronson

 The Last Line


Stephen Ronson

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication date: 16th November 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction / Crime
Pages: 341
Price: $16.99AU (kindle edition)
Will be out in paperback in Australia on 13/2/2024
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

Review: The Last Line

I have to say I love to read any stories set during WWII. I have read many and they have all been diverse in the area of the war the stories are centred on.
The Last Line is set in country England on the outskirts of the war zone but the citizens are still very much aware that the Germans could arrive at any minute.
The protagonist John Cook is a farmer but he has fought in WWI and Afghanistan. He is a trained killer.
When a young woman is found murdered on his land he is the prime suspect to a lazy police force. Knowing the murder won't be investigated further, John turns vigilante and starts his own reconnaissance work, never expecting the level of corruption he will become embroiled in.

The Last Line is a fast-paced mystery thriller written in a crime noir style narration. It is hard not to barrack for John, he is a marvelous anti-hero. There is a lot of violence throughout the novel and the main subject is quite confronting. However, I loved all the intrigue and the character of John was very believable. He made mistakes and took them badly.

The setting is fabulous - distanced from the war yet right there amongst it with children being evacuated from London and billeted to country families, whilst underground groups are setting up defence tactics if the Germans reach them.

The Last Line is a great read! I'm looking forward to another John Cook novel and wondering where he will go from here.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Stephen Ronson grew up in Sussex, and spent a large part of his childhood exploring the woods and fields around Uckfield, many of which were still dotted with reminders of WW2 - pill boxes, tank traps, nissen huts, and graffiti left by soldiers awaiting D-Day.

He is a passionate student of local history, and when he learnt about Auxiliary Units - groups of men who were instructed to lay low during the predicted nazi invasion and lead the fight back, he knew he had to write about a Sussex farmer, one with a love of the land, and a natural desire and ability to get the job done.

Many of the locations and characters in the John Cook series are inspired by real places and real people. In particular, Stephen was inspired by his grandparents, Eric, Bessie, Peter and Vera, each of whom did their bit on the home front.