Lycke by Mikaela Bley




‘Death, death, death,’ she whispered to herself. But it was already too late. The panic was growing inside her.

On a cold and stormy Friday in May, a young girl disappears without a trace from outside Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall.

The missing girl is Lycke, and assigned to report on her story is TV4’s hot-headed crime reporter Ellen Tamm. As the police begin their search, Ellen starts her own investigation, delving into Lycke’s life: her family, the nanny, the kids who taunted her at school.

As Ellen is drawn deeper into a tangle of secrets, lies, and betrayals – and frustrated by the odd behaviour of Lycke’s family, as well as corrupt police, her upstart new boss, and the disturbing threats being made against her – she becomes more and more possessed by the task she has been given, tortured by the echoes of her own past, of the darkness that haunts her.

Will she find Lycke before it is too late for either of them?

Mikaela Bley’s debut, Lycke, is the haunting first novel in the Ellen Tamm thriller series, and is an exciting new voice in Swedish crime writing.

Reviewer: Celia Jelbart

This debut novel by Mikaela Bley grabbed my interest and drew me back each day as soon as work and home life would allow.

An eight year old girl is dropped off for a tennis lesson but is not there at the pick-up point later. She is reported missing to the police. An investigative newspaper journalist is assigned the story.

During her investigation the journalist is driven. She really wants to find the girl, and is concerned by police inaction – worried that they will not find the girl in time. As a reader I wondered about the drive, and the author cleverly reveals a parallel story that points the reader towards understanding. I found myself hoping the journalist succeeded in finding the girl.

The author presents five people: the girl’s parents and step mother, the tennis coach and the nanny as key players in the girl’s life; and weaves the threads of their history with the girl and their pasts well. The story presents the people surrounding the girl in a way that hides who has done what, the characters suspected each in turn. I thought I had picked the culprit, only to change my mind again, and again.

I reorganized my life while reading of this book, so that I was quickly able to read to the end, and find out what had happened. The reveal caught me by surprise.

I hope the author will write a second book so readers may find out more about the journalist’s backstory.

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To the Sea by Christine Dibley




On a clear summer’s day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house.

Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished.

Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents.

But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth?

As Tony’s investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.

Reviewer: Celia Jelbart

This is a debut novel by Christine Dibley who, on a Facebook post acknowledging she’d been nominated for a Davitt award, noted she did not think of To the Sea as a crime novel.

A police station is notified during the week between Christmas and New Year that a girl has vanished.

What follows is a gentle-paced story, which includes mythology, police procedures, family interactions and mystery. Five different voices are used throughout the novel to weave the story together.

Why has the family left it so long before notifying police? How will this affect the search by the Marine Branch? What about the story the boyfriend tells that seems impossible?

The book has more of a literary style than most crime fiction. The weaving and blending of mythology from Ireland and Iceland, with the family heritage, the revelation of events from generations past, and the interplay of family members, meant that there was much more included than just the procedure of the search.

The sea plays a part in the book. The lovely house where the family had gathered for Christmas is on a cape, at the end of a road, and although part of a small settlement, remains isolated from the neighbours.

While reading the book, I contemplated how well we know our friends. Is it possible to think you know someone well, but not know them at all? And how well do older siblings really know younger siblings with large gaps between children, and vice versa?

The last page of the book left me annoyed – I didn’t like the ending at all. It jarred, even though I can see why the author left us there.

I did not find the story drawing me in, but when writing the review and thinking back to reading the book, I have warm feelings about the mythological story, and its part in the narrative.

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Ice Letters by Susan Errington



A First World War novel of love, peace, violence and Antarctica

Adelaide, 1916, and Dora Somerville grieves for her brother, Edgar, killed in France. In the course of an oppressively hot summer, she decides to abandon her pacifist beliefs and embrace violence as a means to end the Great War.

In his printing shop, her lover, Daniel Bone, also makes a momentous decision. He can no longer face the constant pressure to fight in the war – he will join an Antarctic expedition and abandon Australia, leaving Dora behind. However, the peace Daniel seeks eludes him when he is caught up in a crisis in the icy wilderness as the men find themselves under attack.

When the lovers parted, they had agreed to write to one another, although they knew the letters would never be sent. Thousands of miles apart, their passion grows as the decisions they have made imperil them both.

Reviewer: Celia Jelbart

This book is a second novel by an author whose first novel Olive Street was short listed for the Victoria Premier’s Literary Award for First Fiction.

Ice Letters is a slow-paced novel reflective of the times in which it is set, when life was not as frantic as it is today. It’s set during World War One, when conscription was being considered and in Australia some were pacifists while others supported the war.

The book has two main characters: Dora, who is the last living member of her family, supporting herself by working as a typist; and Daniel, a printer. Both are involved in pacifist activity, although in separate groups.

The story is written in the third person, allowing the change of perspective between the two lead characters to happen seamlessly throughout the book.

Through Dora and Daniel, we see the way in which two groups use the cause of stopping the war differently: one very much pacifist and the other using the cause as a platform to push another agenda. By the end of the book Dora has left her group to join Daniel’s group.

Daniel leaves Adelaide to cook for an Antarctic Expedition. The mystery of the novel comes into play here. How will the group protect itself from acts of sabotage, and who is responsible for those acts? The climax of this section had me wondering about the choices I would make in similar circumstances.

While Dora and Daniel are apart, the author resorts to quite an interesting method of continuing the relationship between them, in that they write letters to each other, even though the addressees cannot receive them – there being no mail service between Adelaide and Antarctica.

If you enjoy gentle reads set in times past, and would like chance to reflect on how we influence and are influenced by others, then this is a good novel for you.

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The Pool House by Tasmina Perry

Publisher: Headline Review 2017 Synopsis: A Summer To Die For To Jem Chapman, it’s the chance of a lifetime. An invitation to join a group in an exclusive Hamptons house-share, who could say no? But when she discovers what happened last summer, Jem can’t help but feel a chill. A young woman was found drowned …

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