Book Chooks

They're faster than a speeding bookmark, more powerful than the glue on the pricetag on the cover of your favourite book and able to leap tall paperbacks in a single bound ... and they read. A lot. Jillian Allison-Aitken and Nadine Hancock are the Book Chooks.

From our reviewers: General fiction

05:00am 30 Sep 2014

Marble Bar
By Robert Schofield (Allen & Unwin, RRP $37)

Reviewed by F Mulligan

Gareth Ford is working long hours in the iron ore industry in Western Australia. He is a solo parent with plans for improving his future. But then his past starts to catch up.

When Gareth's housemate is found dead, the local police discover that he has a file and it is flagged.

This is because of his connection to a gold robbery (related in a previous novel, Heist) in Australia's Kalgoorlie goldfields.

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From our reviewers: General fiction

02:48pm 22 Sep 2014

Red Joan
By Jennie Rooney (Random House, RRP $27)

Reviewed by F Mulligan

An old-age pensioner living the quiet life in a London suburb, Joan's world is rocked when her name is linked to a spy scandal dating back to the 1940s. Gradually, as she is interviewed by British security services, the tale is told in a series of flashbacks of how she had indeed become part of a Russian spy ring.

A cut-and-dried issue of treason becomes a story of youthful enthusiasm, social conscience, friendship, love and morality, as this milieu of emotions was encouraged and manipulated (at times very cynically) by a pair of Russian spies. It led to betrayal, blackmail and broken people. Now, 50 or so years later, Joan is faced with a series of hard decisions and new betrayals.

With our modern-day hindsight, the 1930s era, Cambridge-recruited communist spy has become a familiar idea. In fact, Rooney's starting point is a real- life "Joan" outed in the 1990s after years spying for Russia.

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Beckett thriller hits the ground running

05:00am 18 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Stone Bruises
By Simon Beckett (Bantam Press, RRP $38)

With the mystery and intrigue kicking off from the very first page, we meet the book's main character Sean as he is on the run, but with no indication of why or from whom.

He is driving in something of a panic, a bit battered and bruised and in a car that is about to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

But what it lacks in fuel, it makes up for in blood, which is apparently smeared across the seats, the iron- rich smell permeating the stifling air of the car.

It's hot, isolated and miserable. And, yes, he does run out of gas.

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Mystery that will keep you guessing

08:30am 11 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: The Stranger You Know
By Jane Casey (Ebury Press, RRP $38)

Three women have been murdered in their own homes, all have been strangled with no sign of a break-in.

For Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan, it looks like the victims must have let their killer in because they knew him.

And worst of all, it also looks like the sadistic killer could be someone she knows: her colleague Josh Derwent.

And it's not the first time Derwent has been accused of murder.

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Thriller with the good, the bad and the ugly

05:00am 10 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Blood
By Arne Dahl (Harvill Secker, RRP $37)

For years, the "Kentucky Killer" managed to elude the FBI, leaving a trail of victims with terrible injuries that haunted the agents looking for him.

With a method of highly specialised method of torture secretly developed during the Vietnam War, the Kentucky Killer had an easily recognised signature when it came to killing. And the one comfort for the agents hunting him was the belief that the killer was now dead.

But all that is about to change: the body of a Swedish literary critic is found at Newark Airport and police realise the killer has boarded a flight to Stockholm using the victim's ticket and identity.

Swedish Detective Paul Hjelm and his team are called in to try and catch the American serial killer who is now on the loose in Sweden.

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