Book talk: Winter reads


Jeff Popple reviews three winter reads for a cold night. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog:

The McCalister Legacy by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

Romance, mystery, small town rumours and fresh beginnings abound in Nicole Hurley-Moore’s latest rural novel, The McCalister Legacy. Eleven years after her family was torn apart by shocking violence, Berry McCalister returns to Harlington in rural Victoria to confront the ghosts of her childhood and sell the family farm. Once there, however, she finds herself again drawn to her childhood crush, Nate Tarant, and the charms of the small town. She also finds herself questioning the official version of what happened to her family all those years ago. Engaging and heart-warming, this is a great read for a chilly night.

The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser

Harper Collins, $29.99

Gabriel Bergmoser’s version of rural Australia is much darker than Hurley-Moore’s. Frank runs a truck stop on a lonely highway in outback Australia. It is a solitary existence, only recently broken by his granddaughter, who has been sent to stay with him. When a badly injured young woman arrives at the service station with several cars in pursuit, Frank, his granddaughter and a handful of customers are thrust into a deadly stand-off with a group of armed men. Tough, violent, suspenseful and peopled with great characters, The Hunted could well be the Australian thriller of the year. This is Jack Reacher for adults.

The Sandpit by Nicholas Shakespeare

Harvill Secker, $32.99

Unfolding at a much more sedate pace is The Sandpit. Set in a gloomy Oxford at the tail-end of winter, it is an intricate, character-driven spy novel that also reflects on modern society and personal relationships. Back in England after a long spell in Brazil, former foreign correspondent John Dyer is trying to lead a quieter life with his son. When the Iranian scientist father of his son’s friend from the smart prep school he attends disappears, Dyer finds himself the focus of various intelligence agencies who are keen to find the missing man’s research notes. A beautifully written thriller that steadily moves to a thoughtful climax.

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