• Books and reading

    Casual crime? ‘Liars’ by James O’Loghlin

    As an ABC Radio listener for many years, I was quite familiar with presenter James O’Loghlin’s voice and his wry humour. This is the first book of his I’ve read, and I will be returning for more. Liars is a great read.

    Set on the NSW Central Coast, where several of my family members and friends live, the story plays out in what is somewhat familiar territory for me (though it was slightly unsettling to read about the local drug dealer in Woy Woy – perhaps based on similar real-life characters?)

    One of the central characters is Barbara, a middle aged handywoman who is recovering from the shock of her husband walking out after many years of marriage. She finds herself drawn to two recent deaths – startling in a small quiet coastal town – which the Homicide team feel have been solved, but Barb is not so sure.

    Also not sure is Sebastian, the local cop. Detectives have pointed to his old school friend, Joe, a recovering drug addict, as the perpetrator of one of the deaths. Then Joe himself is found dead and it’s ruled a suicide, the result of guilt. Seb just can’t see Joe, for all his faults, as a murderer.

    Barb and Seb team up and begin their own, off the books, unauthorised investigation. Joe and Seb were part of a tight-knit group in high school and the years immediately following. One of those six friends was killed seven years ago, and although that (unsolved) murder was judged likely to have been one of several committed by a serial killer, it begins to look like Sally’s death, too, is somehow connected to these more recent ones. But how?

    Each of the five remaining friends has something to hide, and as Barb and Seb dig deeper, there are more complications waiting to confound them. Liars is a very appropriate title for this story.

    The first section of the novel is told almost completely through text messages, emails and other documents by and between the five friends. Later, we hear snippets of recordings of interviews done by Joe, canvassing people’s memories of the time leading up to Sally’s death. It’s a clever technique to illustrate the differences in what people remember, and the way recollections are often flawed, or even deliberately obfuscated.

    The aspect of the story that I found most alarming was the almost casual way in which some killings were carried out. There are paid ‘hits’ of course, but also murders committed not because of a deep desire to kill, but simply as a means to an end, a way to solve a problem. The murderer does not see themself as a ‘psycho’, as someone who loves killing. They kill because they can’t see an alternative solution.

    The novel is well paced, the characters and setting realistic, and the plot kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed Liars very much; and I’m happy to add James O’Loghlin to my list of good Aussie crime writers.

    Liars is published by Echo Publishing Australia in July 2024.
    Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.

  • Children's & Young Adult Books

    Budding children’s author: Adrian So and his chapter book for younger readers

    When fourteen year old Adrian So contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to review his soon-to-be-released chapter book for young readers, I was intrigued and impressed by his willingness to put himself and his work out there. Writing is a solitary task, though a team will usually be involved at getting a work from manuscript to publication and beyond, and Adrian’s story is being published in August by US based Monarch Educational Services.

    The Groundworld Heroes (Book One) concerns the adventures of Benjamin, part of the digging team in Soiland, whose quiet world is about to be violently disrupted by human intrusion from above. The citizens of Soiland – moles like Benjamin, plus aardvarks, shrews, gophers, badgers and other underground dwellers – become refugees from humans and their mechanical digger which threatens to cave in the entirety of Soiland.

    Told from the viewpoints of Benjamin and Mr Hare, the President of Soiland, the narrative follows the hapless refugees as they flee to nearby Puddleland, where they must try to convince the King and Queen that they are seeking help, not territory.

    There are many ups and downs and adventures as Benjamin tries to rescue his friend Connor from the humans, and convince the rodent royals that the only way they can fend off the human enemy is if they stick together.

    The Groundworld Heroes is a fast-paced, sometimes madcap adventure story perfect for young readers who are ready for chapter books.

    As it is Book One, I imagine it will be followed by another in the series, and it’s a terrific start of what I’m sure will be a successful writing career for Adrian So. It will be published by Monarch Educational Services, LLS, in August 2024.
    My thanks to the author and publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    Did you know that in Victorian times, the fear of grave-robbers disturbing the final resting place of a loved one led to a brisk sale in ‘mortsafes’, an iron frame anchored over graves to secure them? And that there was an equally brisk, and to modern eyes very disturbing, trade in the bones and other body parts of non-Europeans, smuggled about the globe and ending up in private collections, museums and scientific institutions?

    These are some of the snippets I learned by reading Black Silk and Sympathy.

    I love Deborah Challinor’s historical fiction for this reason. She weaves into her stories fascinating insights about the places and periods in which her novels are set – in this case, London and Sydney in the 1860’s. Specifically, it is the world of Victorian undertakers: not usually a topic for a novel, especially one with a female protagonist, but all the more reason to enjoy it.

    Tatiana at seventeen has been recently orphaned and makes a decision to leave London – and England – and try her luck in the colony of New South Wales. She is offered work as an undertaker’s assistant by Titus Crowe. It’s an unusual offer, but Crowe is an astute businessman and recognises the attraction of a ‘woman’s touch’ to grieving clients. Echoes of today’s women-operated funeral businesses, I suppose, but truly ground breaking in Victorian-era Sydney.

    When Titus dies, Tatty is determined to keep running the business on her own terms. Not unheard of, but unusual for the time, especially in the competitive world of the funeral industry.

    Unfortunately for Tatty, the competition is even fiercer than she’d thought, and one rival in particular will stop at nothing to limit her success.

    Being a businesswoman in this town, and particularly in your industry, will not be without its challenges. And you will be the only female undertaker in Sydney. To my knowledge there are seven other local undertaking firms apart from yours, all chasing the same profit to be made from funerals. Be prepared.

    Black Silk and Sympathy p167

    She is a formidable adversary though, and through quick thinking and a willingness to take risks, Tatty and her business endure.

    Previous books I’d read by this author include the Convict Girls series, and it took me a while to realise that several characters, who felt vaguely familiar, were from those novels, albeit several decades on. It’s always nice to meet old friends from earlier books again.

    The author’s background as an historian and researcher show in her impeccable details of the period, including fascinating insights into Victorian mourning customs and funeral practices, and the restrictions on women owning anything of their own once they married. The laws of the time certainly stacked the odds against women having anything like independence; yet there were women like Tatty who did not let that stand in their way. Thankfully we can now read stories about such women and the circumstances in which they lived.

    Tatty is a heroine to relate to and I hope to meet her again in the next book of the series.

    Black Silk and Sympathy is published by HarperCollins Publishers in April 2024.
    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    Jake Jackson is a former London detective who has retired to live outside a small rural village. He is still troubled by unsolved cases from his past, and he is pulled into an informal investigation involving a supposed suicide, a snatched child, and a murdered man.

    Before long the stakes are raised to a frightening level, threatening his new partner and her little girl, as well as several people who have helped Jake find answers.

    This is Book 2 in a new series by London based author Stig Abell. The premise of an ex-detective being unable to leave his former job behind completely, is not a new one. However in this case it is given an extra fillip by the place Jake now inhabits and the lifestyle he has chosen.

    His new home is called ‘Little Sky’ and its surroundings are an important part of the novel. The setting and even the weather have a presence, by turns calming and peaceful, foreboding, or threatening. There are immersive descriptions that take the reader right into Jake’s chosen home:

    The storm abates, and he wraps up and goes outside, his feet damply bare in old wellies. The world in its aching iciness is still, as if all has been frozen and fixed into place. He can feel the expanse of the lake rather than see it, the silent night cloaking him softly like dark silk. The air is fresh in his lungs, the bitter cold somewhat cleansing.

    Death in a Lonely Place p75

    Jake has left the crowds and hubbub of the city behind, re-entering it only with reluctance. His house is isolated, almost completely ‘off grid’ in terms of communication with others. His routines include exercise (runs followed by winter swims in his private lake), healthy food, idyllic nights by the fire, reading his beloved detective and thriller novels. He is content.

    Yet when trouble comes calling he does not hesitate to respond, though he has long discussions about the wisdom of re-entering a criminal world both with himself and his partner, Livia, who is anxious about trouble imposing itself on them, especially as she is sole parent to a little girl.

    Livia and daughter Diana are more than just the ‘love interest’ and child; they are drawn into the action to a certain extent, which puts some strain on the relationship, with Livia also needing to make decisions about the right thing to do.

    Jake is an attractive character, too. He has his own preoccupations but no fatal flaw such as alcoholism, so often seen in the detective genre – probably with good reason, given the things that they see and the crimes they have to deal with. Instead, Jake’s ‘problem’ is a tendency to take responsibility, such as his feeling that he has let down the families of the victims of crimes he was unable to solve.

    With the help of several others, he uncovers a criminal conspiracy that is happening right under his nose. The nature of this conspiracy is particularly distasteful and distressing, actually. I left the novel thinking -hoping – that it is just fiction, that such crimes would not actually take place or find willing participants in today’s world. Probably very naive of me, but I do prefer to leave some crimes in the world of make believe, and I can still enjoy a good detective novel even when they include such abhorrent behaviour.

    And I did enjoy this novel. The plotting is tight, there is a good pace (without page after page dedicated to – yawn! – drawn out fight scenes), and the characters around Jake are, mostly, people I could warm to.

    But most of all I loved the way the author brought Jake and his home to life for me: snowy fields, woolen jumpers, frozen streams, and hot coffee by the fire.

    Now that I have met Jake I’ll no doubt look up Book 1; Death under a Little Sky, to read more about how he came to be in this beautiful part of the country.

    Death in a Lonely Place is published by Hemlock Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, in April 2024.
    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    Different worlds: ‘The Sea Captain’s Wife’ by Jackie French

    Possibly one of Jackie French’s more unusual historical fiction creations, The Sea Captain’s Wife takes us into a vivid world of her own imagination, informed by folklore and research.

    The protagonist is Mair, a young woman who lives on a remote fictional island. It is 1870. Her tiny community is made up almost entirely of women, after a tsunami hit a nearby island, sweeping away many of the men who’d gone there to collect bird’s eggs. It’s a matriarchal society where women make the decisions. They wait for those men who’d survived The Wave to return from sailing ventures, or search the beaches in case a shipwreck washes a man onto their shore.

    ‘Wait’ and ‘search’ are perhaps misleading verbs here. These are not passive women, pining for a man, or immobilized by grief. They build gardens on the poor rocky soil of their volcanic island, birth babies and raise children, fish, prepare meals and create beautiful, functional garments. It’s essentially a subsistence life, where what they grow and produce is supplemented by occasional visits from a ship with goods to trade. They are busy and, largely, content.

    They wait for, or seek out husbands for companionship, support, procreation. Potential husbands must be approved by the council of women. The community has their own way of dealing with any man who poses a threat to their way of life or to the peace and safety of the island. There are strong expectations and rules; however the individuals who live here enjoy freedoms only dreamt about by most women in western society at the time.

    They named their island ‘Big Henry Island’ after the active volcano that rumbles beneath them, throwing out black boulders and sulphur-laden fumes. Islanders have lived with Big Henry for two centuries and know its moods. But they are mostly unaware of the danger it poses.

    Into this world arrives Michael, a ship’s captain washed onto the beach. Mair takes him to her cottage and nurses him back to health, during which time he learns a little of the customs and ways of living. He can barely comprehend the enormous differences between the world of colonial-era Sydney, and the seemingly free and easy lifestyle on Big Henry, especially for women. However he admires Mair’s intelligence, kindness and skills. Admiration turns to love and when the next ship arrives, Michael takes Mair back to live in Sydney.

    Here is where the different worlds of Michael and Mair collide. She is shocked and bewildered by the restrictions on women, in a society where wives are expected to be helpmeets to their husbands, and have little in the way of individual freedom or agency.

    Michael tries to understand, but he is preoccupied by the challenge to find a ship laden with gold that he discovered on the voyage which ended in him washed up on Big Henry Island. His upbringing leads him to believe that once Mair experiences his wealthy family’s life in Sydney, she will be happy there:

    But all across the world women left their childhood homes to follow their husbands. It might not be the island way, but it was the natural order of things, and surely Mair would find it so once she had the luxuries and comforts that awaited her in Australia, with three women to make her feel she had family and a home there. The most important criterion for a sea captain’s wife was a woman who was used to waiting in a household of women for her husband’s ship to sail to harbour.

    The Sea Captain’s Wife, p83

    There are several mysteries that wind through the narrative: the ‘ghost ship’ that haunts Michael’s dreams, and a series of accidents and deaths that take place within his family. Does the gold ship really exist? Were the accidents really mishaps or something more sinister? The conclusion brings these to a satisfying end.

    But the novel has deeper themes. It asks questions about humans’ lack of perception of danger – all too relevant in today’s world, threatened by climate change and conflict. And it asks readers to reflect on our own lives. What makes a worthy life? What responsibilities do we have for others?

    As always Jackie French has brought her setting to life, creating not one, but two very believable worlds.
    Readers who enjoy her historical fiction will not be disappointed in The Sea Captain’s Wife, which is published by HarperCollins in March 2024.

    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    Lives of crime: ‘Sanctuary’ by Gary Disher

    Gary Disher writes the kind of crime stories I like best: ones that focus on the people more than the crimes. He manages to show the how and why of the crimes committed, sure; but also the impact on both perpetrators and victims. This is meaningful fiction, not showcasing crime for its own sake, but to say something about humans and why they do the things they do.

    Sanctuary is unusual for this genre in that the workings of the world of law enforcement are of minimal importance to the narrative. It centres on several people whose stories overlap, though for much of the book we don’t necessarily know how or why.

    There is Grace, formerly known as Anita, who grew up in an unlovely and unloving foster home, along with Adam. They become a team involved in petty crime, just the two of them against a hostile world, until Anita meets a man who teaches her the tricks of a higher level criminal life. When she decides she has had enough of this man’s cruelty and control, she becomes Grace and continues her life of crime alone.

    But Adam harbours a grudge and when they inadvertently cross paths on a ‘job’, she runs again, fearful of what he might do.

    So begins a series of intricate and well planned moves; staying several steps ahead, constantly checking on surrounds and on people, distrusting of others, always looking for an escape, adopting a series of disguises.

    Disher vividly conjures the loneliness and insecurity of this life, and we feel some sympathy for Grace as she tries to adopt another way of being, the kind of ‘legitimate’ and ordinary life that she now longs for. It takes enormous mental and physical energy to live like this. I was reminded of Maxwell Smart in the 1960’s cold-war spoof series Get Smart, in which he often says of the ‘baddies’: If only they could use their cleverness for niceness instead of nastiness.

    Through the viewpoint of another character we are given insight into the mind of someone who indulges in digital stalking and illegal surveillance of people. It’s an unpleasant place and I was always relieved to move onto another scene, away from this sordid and rage-filled character’s world view. But I am very aware that sadly, technology has provided increased opportunities for people like this to frighten and hurt others.

    The tension mounts as the trajectories of Grace, Adam and other characters head towards collision, with complications cleverly woven in.

    The resolution does not tie everything up in a neat bow; that would be unrealistic and too tidy. But we are left with a hope that perhaps, at some future time, Grace and Adam can find a more satisfying way of being in their world.

    Sanctuary is published by Text Publishing in April 2024.
    My thanks to the publishers and to NetGalley for an early review copy.

  • Books and reading,  History

    ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yoval Noah Harari

    While we homo sapiens might feel pleased to be the species that has seemingly evolved to ‘rule the world’, this book should give pause for thought.

    It’s a sweeping story of our history: how we evolved and separated from other human species such as the Neanderthals, why we have paid a price for the development of our relatively large brains, how the ‘cognitive revolution’ distinguished our species from other animals (and what we have done with this advantage since), how and why myths such as gods, race, nationalities, money and human rights were created.

    There are some ideas that I am certain would be controversial to some, including:

    • the ‘agricultural revolution’ actually resulted in humankind spending more time and effort feeding itself than in hunter-gatherer communities
    • it is possible that, far from grains such as wheat or rice being ‘domesticated’ by humans, it could be the other way around: that these grains trained humans to spend huge amounts of labour tending them, allowing them to become masters of the grain world.
    • the three unifying forces of humankind have been money, empire and religion, and of these:
    • capitalism is the most successful religion invented by humans, requiring high levels of trust to operate effectively.

    Sapiens is definitely a thought-provoking book. Always interested in the ‘back story’ in how things came to be as they are, I found the historic elements deeply fascinating.

    The last section of the book ventures into territory which for me was far less comfortable, involving scary questions about the future of humankind, as technological developments seemingly outpace our collective ability to predict where they might lead or to place conditions on their use.

    First published in 2015, the questions in this book are now more relevant than ever, surrounded as we are by the growth of cyborg, genetic and other technologies which could conceivably lead to the end of homo sapien and even devolution into a new species.

    More questions than answers; but perhaps a book of this nature needs to raise issues that can’t be easily addressed. If the idea is to make readers sit up and take notice, to think more deeply about the rapid pace of change, and to appreciate our collective past as a species, Sapiens achieves this very well indeed.

    Books like this should be read by scientists, ethicists, teachers, medical professionals and legislators, because these are the people holding the reins of our collective future.

    Sapiens was published by Vintage (an imprint of Penguin Books.)
    I listened to the audiobook version, also released in 2015 and read in English by Derek Perkins.

  • Books and reading

    Australian thriller: ‘Deadly Secrets’ by H.R. Kemp

    It’s refreshing to find a complex, character- and- plot focused novel set in an Australian city, featuring characters not usually encountered in a typical thriller or crime novel.

    H.R. Kemp’s Deadly Secrets is just such a read.

    The setting is Adelaide, regarded by many Australians as a quiet and tame city. This novel digs deep into another side of the city – one that travel companies and city authorities would rather keep out of sight.

    The strapline for Deadly Secrets reads: ‘What unspeakable truths lurk beneath the lies?’

    Shelley, the main character, is about to find out. Initially she is protective of her safe, quiet and ordinary life in Adelaide and her public service career in the Department of Immigration and she can’t imagine stepping outside the boundaries of the expected and accepted.

    When a former client, a refugee who Shelley helped to resettle in Australia, dies suddenly, Shelley is unhappy with the official explanations for the death. When she digs a little deeper, a chain of events is unleashed that changes her life forever.

    In the process she encounters corruption at high levels in politics and corporations, cynical use of misinformation to promote and protect the powerful, but also people determined to shine a light on the murkiness at the heart of power. The novel canvasses modern issues such as asylum seeker policy and the treatment of refugees, the practices of mining companies, and the insidious changes that have weakened Australia’s political, public service and law enforcement sectors. Family, relationships and domestic violence are also part of the story.

    These are all entirely recognisable and believable to anyone who has been following Australia’s political, social and corporate landscapes over the past few decades.

    Shelley is a relatable character: she has a desire to live a more adventurous life but is uncertain of herself and her future. She struggles with the need to hold onto her government job, even when the policies she must implement sit uneasily with her. Her involvement in the action at the heart of the story is not immediate, but we see her gradual transformation as she begins to embrace her own agency and recognise the need to change.

    Place is important: the novel opens in Paris as Shelley experiences her first solo travel experience and is unwittingly caught up in a major protect action on the city’s streets. Much of the novel is set in Adelaide and readers who know that city will enjoy moving vicariously around there as the action develops.

    I ‘read’ this novel via the Audiobook version, narrated by Lisa Armytage, who competently handles the various accents and voices of the cast of characters.

    Deadly Secrets tells a tightly woven tale of crime and abuse of power without the usual car chase scenes (yawn!) bombings, gunfights and male machismo (double yawn!) I appreciated the fact that the ‘heroes’ at the heart of the novel are otherwise very ordinary people, doing their best to make things better. Even better, it’s a team effort – no glorious heroes off on their own. Everybody who counts in the story has moments of bravery, but they must work together to achieve real change.

    Deadly Secrets is independently published by the author and you can read about H.R Kemp and check out her other projects here.

    My thanks to the author for a copy of the audiobook to review.

  • Books and reading

    Luminous: ‘Day’ by Michael Cunningham

    Recently my book group read and discussed Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy by the Sea as a good example of what we might call a ‘Covid novel’ – set during the worst of the 2020 pandemic and examining its effects. Michael Cunningham’s Day is another.

    Well, it is and it isn’t. Yes, it opens on April 5, 2019, and the two subsequent sections describe the same day in 2020 and 2021. So of course, Covid features: the effect of lockdown on a family in Brooklyn, a reminder of the near-paranoia of beliefs and worries because of the virus, the way the pandemic prompted existential musings from unlikely sources.

    But this novel is much more than that.

    It’s a beautiful, sometimes funny, always tender examination of a small group of people who make up one family. In the longest section, set in 2019, we meet Dan and Isabel who, with their two children (ten-year-old Nathan and Violet, five) live in a house which is quickly moving from ‘cosy’ to ‘crowded’.

    Violet’s younger brother Robbie occupies the attic, recovering from a recent breakup with his boyfriend. Violet and Dan have their own preoccupations and the walls of their marriage are starting to crumble. Nathan has the challenges of impending puberty to deal with and Violet escapes into her own world of imagination.

    All is not well for all this family’s members all of the time.

    Then 2020 arrives and they are in lockdown together – except for Robbie, who went to Iceland for a short holiday and is now stranded there in an isolated cabin, writing letters to his family which he cannot post because there is no post office nearby. Despite his absence, he remains a central figure in the family and the novel.

    In 2021 lockdown has lifted and the family has emerged from their cocoon to discover that everything has changed.

    It’s a gentle story with wry reflections on family life, on children, teens, and middle age. I especially enjoyed the dialogue, during which the characters come to vivid life, especially between Robbie and his sister Violet, and also between Robbie and Dan. We hear the inner thoughts of different characters in turn, understanding that the world can appear in many various ways to different people.

    How has Isabel learned to be this person, even if it’s only for the sake of the kids? How did Dan master that voice? They’ve always been improvising, all three of the adults, and as Nathan and Violet have grown older they seem to have willingly accepted the fact that they are neither more nor less than the youngest members of a haphazardly formed crew that goes by the name “family” for obscure legal reasons.

    Day p49

    The pandemic plays a big role but is always referred to obliquely, which is as it should be. This novel is about so much more. If you enjoy character-focused fiction and beautiful prose you will love Day.

    Day is published by 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins, in November 2023.
    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    Questioning truth: ‘Reckless’ by Marele Day

    I fell into this book, in the sense of immediately feeling comfortable and keen to read on. The opening pages are like an invitation to come into the author’s lounge room, have a cup of tea and hear her stories.

    This memoir is a collection of stories from author Marele Day’s life, from a childhood of treatments and operations for wandering eye; first romantic relationship and crippling grief when her love is killed in a car accident; to spur-of-the-moment (reckless?) decisions made, which lead her in very unexpected and sometimes unwelcome situations.

    We can probably all look back to our youth and wonder at some of the choices we made then. In this book, the author shares her own What was I thinking? moments. Prominent among them is a voyage by catamaran from Darwin to Sri Lanka, with a skipper and crew mates she had only just met. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as the route covers territory known for pirates, and with few places to safely refuel and replenish supplies, they end up in danger on more than one occasion.

    Why did she do it? There was the sense of invincibility that comes with young adulthood. There was a need to do something very different, to break out from the grief that threatened to imprison her after her lover’s shocking death.  And there was a need to be Elsewhere, to Go with the flow.

    The trip, in spite (or because of) its dangers and hardships, resulted in a friendship with Jean Kay, the catamaran’s owner; a connection which lasted thirty years and crossed continents and oceans. On that fateful voyage together in the 1980s, she realises that there is a lot about Jean that is mysterious, contradictory, or hidden from view.

    Later, she decides to dig deeper into his life, in particular one episode in his chequered career: a heist that saw Jean and three accomplices steal millions from an account owned by one of France’s richest businessmen.

    After that, Jean spent years on the run from authorities, living and travelling under an assumed name. In tracing the events surrounding the robbery, Marele begins to doubt what she thinks she knows about her friend and his past.

    In the process she must interrogate her own experiences, beliefs and values.

    The pages of this book held many moments of recognition for me. The foolishness of our younger selves; moments of quiet rebellion (Jean’s school photo conjured a memory of myself aged 17, annoyed by the photographer’s instructions to students to fold hands the same way, deliberately crossing my hands the ‘wrong’ way in my lap.) The need for regular doses of solitude and quiet. A shared appreciation of words and their power:

    Some words were so potent they could only be whispered, matchsticks that ignited fires. I had no idea what a divorce was, but if Aunty Marjorie was getting one it must have been something special. When I whispered the word to the hydrangea bushes near my grandmother’s front steps, it conjured up a mighty wind. I felt the way God must have felt creating the world. All God had to do was say the word and it was so.

    Reckless p86

    My beliefs about an afterlife are also similar:

    The only certainty I feel on these long walks is this: that our bodies, our ashes, are returned to the earth, to nurture new life. All of us, every living creature, becomes part of the ongoing whole. This is enough.

    Reckless p307

    Reckless is a very readable mix of true-crime investigative writing, personal memoir, and philosophy. It’s like an afternoon spent in the company of an engaging friend who has lived an interesting life and met some memorable people, and is a gifted storyteller into the bargain.

    Reckless was published by Ultimo Press in May 2023.