Sunday, November 1, 2009

Good Reading: crime-related contents

As I said a couple of months ago, one of the magazines I write reviews and books-related features for is Good Reading, the Australian-based "magazine for book lovers". Each month the magazine has more than 60 new or recent books reviewed, news from around the literary world, and several features articles (including author interviews, literature-related travel articles, overviews of different sub-genres, and much more). It's a cool magazine, and I am proud to write for them.

The great thing is, if you aren't able to get your hands on a hard copy in Australia or New Zealand, you can instead become an online subscriber (for a low price), allowing you access to not only the current issue, but a massive database of archived feature articles (including more than 200 great author interviews), thousands of books reviews, and more. You can find more information HERE.

As you can imagine, I concentrate mainly on crime/thriller fiction when it comes to my contributions to Good Reading. Each month I'll give you a heads-up on ALL the crime or thriller-related content in the upcoming issue (ie not just my articles/reviews). For the November issue which is now on the shelves, that includes:

"The Stroppy Crime-Fighter" (by Craig Sisterson) - an interview with Kiwi crime writer Vanda Symon (OVERKILL, THE RINGMASTER), whose third Sam Shephard novel, CONTAINMENT, is being released later this month.

Vanda spoke with me about a number of things, including creating a memorable heroine, juggling motherhood and storytelling, and life imitating art. You can read more about Vanda Symon HERE, and online subscribers to Good Reading can link through to the full feature article itself HERE.

Anyone can view Good Reading's books database online, which includes information about the book, a note of which issue it was featured in, and a snippet from the review (subscribers can see the full reviews). The crime/thriller books reviewed in the November issue are outlined below - the reviewers this month are myself (CS), Good Reading Deputy Editor Sarah Minns (SM), Alex Fraser (AF), Clive Hodges (CH), Leslie Lightfoot (LL) and Daniel Herborn (DH).

THE LOVERSby John Connolly (4 stars - LL)
When Charlie Parker was still a boy, his father, an NYPD cop, killed a young couple, a boy and a girl barely older than his son, then took his own life. There was no explanation for his actions. Stripped of his private investigator's license, and watched by the police, Parker is working in a Portland bar, holding down a job and staying out of trouble. But in the background, he is working on his most personal case yet, an investigation into his own origins and the circumstances surrounding the death of his father, Will. It is an investigation that will reveal a life haunted by lies, by his mother's loss and his father's betrayal, by secrets kept and loyalties compromised.

by Kerry Greenwood (3 stars - CH)
Corinna Chapman, owner of Earthly Delights, detests Christmas. The shoppers are frantic and the heat oppressive. Neither of which this perfect size 20 with a genius for baking breads finds congenial. She's dreaming of quiet, air-conditioned comfort ... and the luscious Daniel with whom she'd like to spend a lot more time.But Daniel is on the hunt to find two young runaways, Brigid and Manny. This simple Romeo and Juliet romance though is not as straightforward as it seems and they will go a long way to ensure they're not found. When Corinna and Daniel find that Brigid is on the streets, heavily pregnant and in danger, the stakes rise.With the help of a troupe of free-spirited freegans, some very clever internet hackers and a bunch of vegans, Corinna and Daniel go head-to-head with a sinister religious cult on a mission and a band of Romany gypsies out for revenge in a wild and wonderful chase against the clock.

by Val McDermid (4 1/2 stars - CS)
Tony Hill's most twisted adversary – a killer with a shopping list of victims, a killer unmoved by youth and innocence, a killer driven by the most perverted of desires. The murder and mutilation of teenager Jennifer Maidment is horrific enough on its own. But it's not long before Tony realises it's just the start of a brutal and ruthless campaign that's targeting an apparently unconnected group of young people. Struggling with the newly awakened ghosts of his own past and desperate for distraction in his work, Tony battles to find the answers that will give him personal and professional satisfaction in his most testing investigation yet.

KING OF THE CROSSby Mark Dapin (3 stars - DH)
A novel that explores the criminal world of Jacob Mendoza: legendary Godfather of Kings Cross and for more than four decades, Australia's most powerful and notorious crime figure. To record his epic life story he employs a hapless young reporter from the Australian Jewish Times. As Mendoza unfolds his seductive story of thugs and drugs, murders and mysteries, bikers, bent cops and girls, girls, girls, it emerges that he's not the only one with a past. And as the memoir takes shape, other more terrifying criminals are circling the kingdom that Mendoza built.

by Ian Rankin (5 stars - AF)
Nobody likes The Complaints - they're the cops who investigate other cops. Complaints and Conduct Department, to give them their full title, but known colloquially as 'The Dark Side', or simply 'The Complaints'. It's where Malcolm Fox works. He's just had a result, and should be feeling good about himself. But he's a man with problems of his own... in the midst of an aggressive Edinburgh winter, the reluctant Fox is given a new task. There's a cop called Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. The problem is, no one can prove it. But as Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks. This knowledge will prove dangerous, especially when a vicious murder intervenes far too close to home for Fox's liking.

by Hakan Nesser (4 stars - CH)
A young woman shivers in the December cold as her mother's body is laid to rest in a cemetery. The only thing that warms her is the thought of the revenge she will soon take ...
Then a middle-aged man is killed at his home, shot twice in the chest and twice below the belt. He had recently received a series of bizarre phone calls where an old song is played down the line – evoking an eerie sense of both familiarity and unease. Before the police can find the culprit, a second man is killed in the same way. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren and his team must dig far back into each man's past – but with few clues at each crime scene, can they find the killer before anyone else dies?

by Michael Koryta (4 1/2 stars - CS)
Whisper Ridge - Home to Dream - 6 November 1992-27 April 1996. So reads the strange epitaph carved beside the door of the home called Whisper Ridge, a multi-million-dollar piece of architectural majesty that once housed the beginnings of Alexandra Sanabria's unique program for parolled murderers. Uninhabited for twelve years, the home still stands as a strange monument to dangerous secrets. Private investigator Lincoln Perry's first involvement with the house and its legacy comes when Parker Harrison - a convicted killer and former parolee at Whisper Ridge - asks him to find Alexandra, who disappeared with her husband after the failure of the parolee program. Embarrassed by his initial mistrust of Harrison... Perry decides to take on the case. Then he discovers that skeletal remains of Alexandra's husband were discovered at the same time Harrison asked Perry to try and locate her...

by Stieg Larsson (4 1/2 stars - SM)
Salander is plotting her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign. After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close supervision in Intensive Care, and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.

Unfortunately there were was only space for slightly fewer crime reviews than normal this month (although the editor slipped a couple of these into general fiction), so a couple of lower-rated ones I submitted didn't make it into the magazine (the Editor has an understandable tendency to highlight the higher-rated books, if she has to make a choice on what goes in). Seems a particularly high-starred month on the crime fiction front overall.

So have you read Good Reading? What do you think of the magazine? What crime/thriller authors would you like to see interviewed and featured in future? Have you read any of the books or authors reviewed of featured? What do you think of them? Do you agree with the ratings? Suggestions and comments welcome.


  1. I've been getting the magazine for quite a number of years Craig, but I did feel this one lacked enough crime fiction for me

  2. There seemed to be less reviews overall compared to previous issues... so I think that squeezed the crime section. But hey, the Editor put a couple of crime novels (THE LOVERS, FORBIDDEN FRUIT) in the general fiction reviews, and we had a crime writer feature as well, so can't complain too much :-)

    I'll be doing my best to keep the crime fiction quotient high, don't you worry Kerrie. Perhaps you could write something for them as well?