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Craig Kirchner

Hiding to Nothing (#2 Lachie Munro)

Hiding to Nothing (#2 Lachie Munro)

Andy Muir

$24.99
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ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Also an ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK was the first in Andy Muir's Lachie Munro series centred around a hapless young bloke living in Newcastle and working as a house painter while trying to figure life out. That first novel, Something for Nothing, was shortlisted for the 2017 Ned Kelly Award and has drawn praise for its colourful characters and pacy storytelling.

The sparkle lies in Muir's ear for Aussie dialogue, honed through his years of screenwriting. Of the praise for this series - and there is much of it - this comment by Michaeley O'Brien, a principal behind TV series Mystery Road, characterises the mood well - "Andy's writing is so clever, but his touch is so light. Reading it is like standing next to a BBQ drinking beer with a bunch of crims."

This series is perfect for anyone wanting an enjoyable, fast moving story and especially that young bloke you know who says he doesn't read much. Craig Kirchner

Like this? SEE ALSO: Shane MaloneySue Williams

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Lay low, stay out of trouble and don't get pulled over. It was probably the best advice I'd ever had. How long until I ignored it?

All Lachie Munro wants is a quiet life in sunny Newcastle. But Lachie and quiet don't seem to get along.

When his estranged dad, Terry, turns up fresh out of prison, he's packing more than the usual family baggage. Suddenly there are two murderous goons on Lachie's doorstep and the police are paying him special attention. But Terry's on the hunt for a long-lost fortune, and he won't be leaving Newcastle - or Lachie - without it. Which is bad news for Lachie who suspects the more time he spends with his dad, the more trouble it causes. And it'll be Lachie Munro who cops a hiding to nothing.

HIDING TO NOTHING is the next caper from the master of beachside noir, Andy Muir, a wild ride driven by brilliant characters and fast-paced dialogue. The underworld has never been so much fun.


More in this series LACHIE MUNRO
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How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

Julian Baggini

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- In a shrinking world (internet, globalisation) an understanding of how other peoples think is vital.* Written from a secular Western philosophy viewpoint, this is enlightening on topics such as Time, Heaven, Nature - even the value of philosophy itself! Craig Kirchner

* Very Western thinking

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All cultures are different, and have different ways of thinking.

In How the World Thinks, Julian Baggini travels the globe to provide a hugely wide-ranging map of human thought. He shows us how distinct branches of philosophy flowered simultaneously in China, India and Ancient Greece, growing from local myths and stories - and how contemporary cultural attitudes, with particular attention to the West, East Asia, the Muslim World and Africa, have developed out of the philosophical histories of their regions.

Interviewing thinkers from all around the world, he asks why, for instance, do our European systems of governments and justice differ so widely from the East? Why can Islam not easily incorporate secular knowledge? How do we understand China? By gaining greater knowledge of how others think, we can become less certain of the knowledge we think we have, the first step to greater understanding.

How the World Thinks by Julian Baggini
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The Girl on the Page

The Girl on the Page

John Purcell

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- With a title that playfully pokes fun at the 'bandwagonism' that follows a blockbuster book, the setting here is the publishing world. Well-drawn characters and dialogue that rings true (with some savagely comic snipes) circle around insights on both the business and vocation of publishing. The tensions between 'literary types' and 'sales types' sees the story move at a page-turning pace around themes of artistic integrity and the intense sadness of failed families. Craig Kirchner

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Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption.

A punchy, powerful and page-turning novel about the redemptive power of great literature, from industry insider John Purcell.

Amy Winston is a hard-drinking, bed-hopping, hot-shot young book editor on a downward spiral. Having made her name and fortune by turning an average thriller writer into a Lee Child, Amy is given the unenviable task of steering literary great Helen Owen back to publication.

When Amy knocks on the door of their beautiful townhouse in north west London, Helen and her husband, novelist Malcolm Taylor, are conducting a silent war of attrition. The townhouse was paid for with the enormous seven figure advance Helen was given for the novel she wrote to end fifty years of making ends meet on critical acclaim alone. The novel Malcolm thinks unworthy of her. The novel Helen has yet to deliver. The novel Amy has come to collect.

Amy has never faced a challenge like this one. Helen and Malcolm are brilliant, complicated writers who unsettle Amy into asking questions of herself - questions about what she values, her principles, whether she has integrity, whether she is authentic. Before she knows it, answering these questions becomes a matter of life or death.

This ferocious, fast-paced novel cuts to the core of what it means to balance ambition and integrity, and the redemptive power of great literature.

"In The Girl on the Page, John Purcell triumphs with a scalpel in one hand and his heart in the other. It's a gripping, dark comedy of a novel which eviscerates the cynicism of contemporary publishing, while uttering a cri du coeur for what is happening to writers and readers this century. Through this dark comedy - I squealed with laughter, page after page - flash questions about cultural life that Purcell asks, but leaves us to ponder." - Blanche d'Alpuget

"A juicy page-turner that takes a scalpel to the literary world, written with deep insider intel and a gleeful sense of mischief, The Girl on the Page is a wickedly clever, razor-sharp satire of lust, betrayal and ambition." - Caroline Baum

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Kill Shot (#9 Wyatt)

Kill Shot (#9 Wyatt)

Garry Disher

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Like REACHER? Try WYATT.
Wyatt is a lean, mean thieving machine and his laser focus is on a Ponzi scheme fraudster who he hopes to relieve of his hidden millions. But tech advances are throwing some challenges to his skill set. Living a life very much apart from the norm, Wyatt's keen observations of our fads, habits and preoccupations are always enlightening. Craig Kirchner

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Some people just work better alone. Wyatt's one of them. He's been getting by on nice quiet little burglaries, when he gets wind of something bigger.

A corporate crook – a Ponzi schemer – set to face court and certain jail time. He's about to skip bail the old-fashioned way - on a luxury yacht with a million dollars in cash.

Wyatt thinks it sounds like something he should get into.

He's not alone.
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Preservation

Preservation

Jock Serong

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This tale of gruelling colonial misadventure begins with a murder and an assumed identity. Serong's novel is a rich imagining of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, an actual trade ship that was ill-prepared for the violence of the southern seas. Be warned however - Serong's depictions of violence will test the mettle of any reader. And in the character of Mr Figge, he has conjured an evil equal to any. Craig Kirchner

And if you like this, also grab yourself a copy of The Making of Martin Sparrow by Peter Cochrane.

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Preservation, based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, sees master storyteller Jock Serong turn his talents to historical narrative.

On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features - and inhabitants - they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive.

It is Lieutenant Joshua Grayling’s task to investigate the story. He comes to realise that those fourteen deaths were contrived by one calculating mind and, as the full horror of the men’s journey emerges, he begins to wonder whether the ruthless killer poses a danger to his own family.
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Sydney Noir

Sydney Noir

John Dale (Contributor and Editor)

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Being a Sydneysider, I know these locations and the feeling of each. With this exotic tasting menu of Australian authors, each brings their style and knowledge of the locations and the people, with stories that will slip beneath your skin - a deep sadness with Eleanor Limprecht's story, or the dreamy sinister tone of Robert Drewe's, redolent of historical true crime. Craig Kirchner

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The Akashic ‘Noir’ crime series began in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. The book earned so much attention and acclaim that it has now expanded to include over 50 titles in locales criss-crossing the globe. The incorporation of familiar, well-known locations with excellent writing and plotting is a winning combination that readers can’t resist. Those who have stepped into the ring to edit the collections run the gamut from little-known talents to big names like Joyce Carol Oates and Dennis Lehane.

Brio now co-publishes the first-ever Australian title in the series, Sydney Noir, featuring fourteen brand-new stories from some of our very best writers: Mandy Sayer, John Dale, Mark Dapin, Kirsten Tranter, Eleanor Limprecht, Leigh Redhead, Robert Drewe, Julie Koh, Peter Polites, Tom Gilling, Gabrielle Lord, Philip McLaren, P.M. Newton and Peter Doyle.

The stories deal with men and women who work in finance or serve in a shop, drive cabs or beat-up utes. They might be architects or struggling students, athletes or Aboriginal liaison officers, retired coppers or contract labourers, patternmakers or photographers, philosophy lecturers or drug dealers. Some are desperate for revenge or money and fame; others are simply caught up in circumstances beyond their control or in a sexual relationship gone wrong.

The reader is taken from Kings Cross to La Perouse, from Balmain to Parramatta, Redfern to Maroubra, Clovelly to Bankstown, Sydney Harbour to Edgecliff, Newtown to Ashfield, and Lavender Bay to Mosman. There are no safe spaces in this collection. What Sydney Noir does best is to provide a window onto the street. Sit back and enjoy the view.


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The Secret Lives of Colour

The Secret Lives of Colour

Kassia St Clair

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I have the hardback edition but the paperback is equally as beautiful a production. This calming book is an imaginative way of delving into all manner of historical curiosities around social norms and hierarchy, invention, and art. You'll never again take the colours that surround you for granted. Craig Kirchner 

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'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon Garfield 

The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. 

Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
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Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Sarah Smarsh

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I really enjoyed this. And I say that with a heavy sense of knowing and gratitude to my own parents, and an awareness of the contrast with my own economic position in the world. Sarah Smarsh broke the cycle of generations of men behaving badly and of poor choices made by women. At the same time her memoir is heartfelt, honouring her people and her roots as she lays bare the trajectory of lives where hard work very often is not enough to overcome the inequalities that the mere randomness of birth confers. My own grandmother's first marital home had a dirt floor, a concept that is entirely beyond my comprehension. I initially began reading this with the aim of gaining greater understanding of disenfranchisement in today's geopolitics. But it's turned out to be a very human and warm memoir. Sarah, talking with her Grandma about death: 'She told me seriously that she wanted to be buried without a bra. "I hate the damn things" she said. "You can burn 'em at my funeral." Craig Kirchner

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Born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teenage mothers on her maternal side, Smarsh grew up in a family of labourers trapped in a cycle of poverty. She learned about hard work, and also absorbed painful lessons about economic inequality, eventually coming to understand the powerful forces that have blighted the lives of poor and working-class Americans living in the heartland.

By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves, Smarsh challenges us to look more closely at daily life in America. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland is a searing, uncompromising look at class, identity, and the particular perils of having less in a country known for its excess.
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The Plotters

The Plotters

Un-su Kim

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- A gem from Korea! Despite having a cast of characters who are assassins and consequently a rising body count, the tone here is wry and philosophical. Secret societies of assassins carry out the bidding of South Korea's political and corporate manipulators, known as plotters. Career assassin Reseng is the meat in the sandwich as the power shifts in the assassinations 'business'. Thoroughly enjoyable - and relaxing! Craig Kirchner

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The important thing is not who pulls the trigger but who's behind the person who pulls the trigger - the plotters, the masterminds working in the shadows. Raised by Old Raccoon in The Library of Dogs, Reseng has always been surrounded by plots to kill - and by books that no one ever reads. In Seoul's corrupt underworld, he was destined to be an assassin.

Until he breaks the rules. That's when he meets a trio of young women - a convenience store worker, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed obsessive knitter - with an extraordinary plot of their own.

Will Reseng be next on the kill list? Who planted the bomb in his toilet?

The Plotters is a cracking noir thriller combined with the soul, wit and lyricism of a highly original literary voice.
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Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up

Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up

Gabrielle Chan

$34.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Gabrielle Chan is uniquely positioned with being a press-gallery journo in Canberra's cauldron, while living in a country town, married to a farmer, and of a Chinese immigrant parent. With this experience base, she goes deep into the psyche of the country mind-set, teasing out the conditions that define the country/city divide and its expression in protest voting patterns for independents and minor parties. Disenfranchised and dealt out. Recommended for those wanting to know more about root causes, as the world lurches to the right in the wake of Brexit and Trump, in an Australian context. Craig Kirchner

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A big story from a small town.

Telling the story of Australia as it is today, Gabrielle Chan has gone hyper-local. In Rusted Off, she looks to her own rural community’s main street for answers to the big questions driving voters. Why are we so fed up with politics? Why are formerly rusted-on country voters deserting major parties in greater numbers than their city cousins? Can ordinary people teach us more about the way forward for government?

In 1996 – the same year as Pauline Hanson entered parliament – Gabrielle, the city-born daughter of a Chinese migrant, moved to a sheep and wheat farm in country New South Wales. She provides a window into her community where she raised her children and reflects on its lessons for the Australian political story. It is a fresh take on the old rural narrative, informed by class and culture, belonging and broadband, committees and cake stalls, rural recession and reconciliation.

Along the way, Gabrielle recounts conversations with her fellow residents, people who have no lobby group in Canberra, so we can better understand lives rarely seen in political reporting. She describes communities that are forsaking the political process to move ahead of government. Though sometimes facing polar opposite political views to her own, Gabrielle learns the power of having a shared community at stake and in doing so, finds an alternative for modern political tribal warriors.
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Sisters of No Mercy

Sisters of No Mercy

Vincent Silk

$26.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I've always been a fan of a posse, a crew, a bunch. Here an unusual gang come together under the umbrella of Sisters of No Mercy, a nebulous urban collective operating as a kind of support network for people in need. Vincent Silk has brought together, amid a post-disaster scenario, some strong characters in Pinky, a young guy drifting from house to house through a disturbing back-story, and Almond, a ninja-like operative suppressing an internal rage, and Del, a benevolent soul who's there for everyone. Not your ordinary pack of avengers. Craig Kirchner

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Mega-storm Martha has wreaked havoc and it's harder than ever to find a home. Hapless Pinky, Del - mother-hen and mentor - and the ever-resourceful and sometime sleuth Almond are members of Sisters of No Mercy. A band of vigilantes, a pack of thieves or a new wave commune, this underground network has a fresh target: heir and mogul to a mining and property fortune, Dirk Trench. Can these underdogs take on the establishment and win?

Vincent Silk's zingy debut novel fuses climate fiction, hysterical realism with all the tension of a carefully planned and finely executed heist. Written with humour, stinging social observations and surprising insight, Sisters of No Mercy announces Silk as an exciting literary voice.

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I Had Such Friends

I Had Such Friends

Meg Gatland-Veness

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The secret weapon in this beguiling novel is the crisp and engaging voice given to Hamish Day, an unpopular and lonely kid in a small coastal town in Australia. Meg Gatland-Veness' debut deftly alights on a surprising number of themes in such a natural way, that we understand that 'things like this' are going on all around us or within us in the towns and cities where we live.

Older readers will find themselves reflecting on their schooldays and where they figured in the groups and cliques (which may or may not be a good thing). Younger eyes will, hopefully, feel empathy as they enjoy reading this vivid, and at times, confronting story. Craig Kirchner

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So, then it happened. Peter Bridges pulled into the bus bay. You're not allowed to do that. Peter was in my year but I hardly ever saw him at school. He was on the football team, though he had almost been kicked off more times than I could count, for fighting and not showing up to training. His car was the cheapest-looking Toyota Corolla I had ever seen in my life.

"Hey Hamish",  he said, and I couldn't for the life of me work out how it was that he could possibly know my name.

"Want a ride home?"

-----

When Charlie Parker dies it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for Hamish Day, the boy with only one friend, who lives on a cabbage farm.

After a tragic car accident leaves his school in grief, Hamish finds himself pulled into the lives of the people left behind. He tries his best to thread them back together again, even though he is pretty sure he's the least qualified person for the job.

With hard-hitting themes of unrequited love, sexuality, bullying, death and suicide, readers will take part in a poignant story about self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence.

A compelling look at adolescent pain, I Had Such Friends pushes us to reflect on our own 'sliding doors' moment. Who are you to someone else, and what part do you play in his or her story?
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The Nowhere Child

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Straddling the USA and Australia and moving back and forth between the past and the present, this is a swiftly moving tale of the disappearance of a two-year-old girl, Sammy Went, from a small southern US town, where nothing like this ever happens. Her story becomes entwined with family secrets, tragedy and fringe religion (as only the US can do). Craig Kirchner

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"Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone."

On a break between teaching photography classes in Melbourne, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home 28 years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl.

At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family history in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery of Sammy’s disappearance unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards an electrifying climax.

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent.

"The Nowhere Child is a page-turning labyrinth of twists and turns that moves seamlessly between the past and the present, revealing the story in parts and successfully keeping the reader guessing until the final unexpected reveal... It’s an exhilarating ride and a thrilling debut." – Books + Publishing magazine

"White skilfully builds an uncertain, noxious world of dysfunctional families and small-town secrets. The Nowhere Child is a gripping debut from an exceptional new talent." – Mark Brandi

"This gripping read takes you to the very edge of reality." – Jane Caro

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Don't Let Go: From the international #1 bestselling author

Don't Let Go: From the international #1 bestselling author

Harlan Coben

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Don't be fooled by the bright and brisk American style - Harlan Coben's story leads you along a trail of discovery, a sequence of decisions and events which culminate in a dark tragedy. Central to the story is the concept of blame - where does it lay? Craig Kirchner

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The brilliant new novel from the international bestselling author of Home and Fool Me Once.

Mistaken identities, dark family secrets and mysterious conspiracies lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller.

Fifteen years ago in small-town New Jersey, a teenage boy and girl were found dead. Most people concluded it was a tragic suicide pact. The dead boy's brother, Nap Dumas, did not. Now Nap is a cop - but he's a cop who plays by his own rules, and who has never made peace with his past.

And when the past comes back to haunt him, Nap discovers secrets can kill...
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The Making of Martin Sparrow

The Making of Martin Sparrow

Peter Cochrane

$32.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— The early days of the colonial settlement on the Hawkesbury River are no place for the genteel or indolent. Violence, wrought by Nature or by man, visits just about everyone in Peter Cochrane’s gothic-tinged tale of the unknown.

His atmospheric story is of two floods. The first being a great flood that rips down the valley, bringing with it changing fortunes for a debt-laden no-hoper and ex-convict named Martin Sparrow. Rumours of a land of plenty and of freedom - a paradise lying beyond the imposing mountain range - snake throughout the settlement, seeking out those disposed to becoming ‘bolters’.

As well, the uneasy interactions with the indigenous men and women depicts a time before any knowledge by the first people of the coming floodtide of white settlers.

Full of characters with wonderfully florid names such as Nimrod Parsonage, Harper Sneezby, Shug McCafferty and Mortimer Craggs (I call for Stephen Fry to do a role call) and also many phrases known only to history buffs such as Cochrane, this fecund novel, the first from the award-winning historian, is to be enjoyed with a tin mug of ‘bang-head’. Craig Kirchner

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Colonies are built on dreams, but some dreams threaten ruin.

Set against the awe-inspiring immensity of the hinterland west of the Hawkesbury River, this epic novel of chance and endurance is an immersion into another time, a masterpiece of language and atmosphere.

Ex-convict Martin Sparrow is already a lazy, lovelorn and deep-in-debt failure when his farm is wrecked by the great flood of March 1806. In the aftermath, he is confronted with a choice: buckle down and set about his agricultural recovery, or heed the whispers of an earthly paradise on the far side of the mountains - a place where men are truly free - and strike out for a new life.

But what chance does a ditherer such as Sparrow have of renewal, either in the brutal colony or in the forbidding wilderness? The decision he makes triggers a harrowing chain of events and draws in a cast of extraordinary characters including Alister Mackie, the chief constable on the river; his deputy, Thaddeus Cuff; the vicious hunter, Griffin Pinney; the Romany girl, Bea Faa; and the young Aboriginal men, Caleb and Moowut'tin, caught between war and peace.

Rich, raw, strangely beautiful and utterly convincing, The Making of Martin Sparrow reveals Peter Cochrane - one of our leading historians - as one of our most compelling novelists as well.


SEE ALSO COLONIAL AMBITION

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The Sinner

The Sinner

Petra Hammesfahr ,  John Brownjohn

$17.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— This is around the fourth German crime novel I’ve read and it got me wondering how it was they were all of such high calibre. Is it the (insert cultural cliche here)? It struck me then, the reason - they’ve all passed the ‘reader test’ in their home country of Germany before making their way across the globe to the shelf in Abbey’s ’Crime Alley’. OK, a simple deduction (I’m no Sherlock, dear Watson) but it is something to keep in mind.

So it is with The Sinner, which has now been made into a Netflix series, however I highly recommend you read the novel because it is far more rewarding taking the scenic route through this tale of emotional abuse and bad parenting as you grasp for footholds of truth as to why young mother, Cora Bender, took to a stranger with a fruit knife on a beach outing, stabbing him to death.

Craig Kirchner

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The basis for the highly acclaimed Netflix series starring Jessica Biel. 

‘Instantly gripping’ Washington Post

‘…delves deep into the human psyche, and keeps you gripped’ The Times 

Cora Bender killed a man on a sunny summer afternoon in full view of her family and friends. But why? What could have caused this quiet, loveable young mother to stab a stranger in the throat, again and again, until she was pulled off his body?

For the local police it was an open and shut case. But Police Commissioner Rudolf Grovian refused to close the file and started his own maverick investigation. So began the slow unravelling of Cora's past, a harrowing descent into a woman's private hell.
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Find You In The Dark

Find You In The Dark

Nathan Ripley

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Crime fiction comes in many flavours and ‘serial killer’ is one I tend to steer clear of for the simple reason that I don’t want to occupy the same brain space. I don’t need that in my head. A police lieutenant in this story characterises interest in serial killers as a spectrum, from the killers themselves, down to those "who order paintings from Gacy and Charles Manson CDs, then below that are the ones who write porno-detailed true crime books, then the ones who hack out less f**ked-up books, write for less f**ked-up websites, all the way down to your mom and dad, watching CSI reruns five nights a week." I’ll cop to the occasional CSI but draw the line well before CSI SVU.

But Nathan Ripley takes a clever way in to his story, using a tech-millionaire with time on his hands, whose hobby is scouring serial killer interview transcripts for clues to the whereabouts of the bodies of their victims. His anonymous tip-offs concern police as much as they find them helpful. The zest in this story is in what we discover about our ‘good samaritan’, his relationship with his wife and daughter, and the friends-with-benefits relationship between the two main detectives. Detective Sandra Whittal is inspirational in her single-minded focus and toughness. Plus, Ripley’s dialogue shines. So although I squirmed a little midway through, this is a fresh approach to the sub-genre, with plenty of twists. I think I’ve escaped unscathed. In fact, I'll go one better and say it was very entertaining. Craig Kirchner [more bookseller picks]

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p.s. Tip of the hat to the tag-line writer too: ‘There’s a villain in every hero. You just need to dig a little.’

A chilling debut thriller in the vein of Dexter and The Talented Mr Ripley.

Martin Reese has a hobby: he digs up murder victims. He buys stolen police files on serial killers, and uses them to find and dig up missing bodies. Calls in the results anonymously, taunting the police for their failure to do their job.

Detective Sandra Whittal takes that a little personally. She's suspicious of the mysterious caller, who she names the Finder. Maybe he's the one leaving the bodies behind. If not, who's to say he won't start soon?

As Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder, Martin makes a shocking discovery. It seems someone-someone lethal-is very unhappy about the bodies he's been digging up.

Hunted by a cop, hunted by a killer. To escape and keep his family safe, Martin may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever imagined.
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The Brush-Off: Text Classics

The Brush-Off: Text Classics

Shane Maloney ,  Michael Robotham

$12.95
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— I love a novel with a sharp tongue, especially when targeted at the machinations of staying in power. Shane Maloney won a Ned Kelly for this instalment of his Murray Whelan series wherein Maloney skewers Melbourne’s art world and desperate politicos. 2004 saw David Wenham in the role of Whelan in the screen adaptation of the same name, but I had the theme music of Grass Roots (ABC political comedy series, early 2000s) in my head as Murray scurried about trying to suss out what was happening. A warm, larrikin-toned, aussie crime read. Craig Kirchner

If you like this, also take a look at Something For Nothing by Andy Muir.

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Winner, Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction, 1996.

Murray Whelan, hero of Stiff, is back at his richly futile best in The Brush-Off. When the body of an artist is fished from the moat outside the National Gallery, Murray - political minder, brushed-off lover and art buff on the make - goes looking for the big picture. If he can put the fix in, he might have a chance of staying employed. The second adventure in Shane Maloney's series brilliantly mixes high art with low blows.
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Korea: Where the American Century Began

Korea: Where the American Century Began

Michael Pembroke

$32.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Michael Pembroke, author of the lauded biography of Governor Arthur Phillip, comes to his history of Korea by way of his father’s participation in the war. How did something so intractable as this divided country come to be? As usual, it’s all down to personalities. Those of President Harry S Truman, Generals Hodge and MacArthur, Kim Il-sung - and a man called Syngman Rhee, who was installed by Hodge and MacArthur as the President of the newly formed republic based in South Korea and who was described in CIA briefings as ‘essentially a demagogue bent on autocratic rule’ and that ‘his intellect is a shallow one and his behaviour is often irrational’. Now, why would you put someone like that into a position of state power? So it goes. Craig Kirchner

——

This lucid book should be compulsory reading for anyone who wonders how the situation on the Korean peninsula has deteriorated to the point it is today.

It demonstrates the truth of the axiom that unless you know the history, you cannot see the future. The failed invasion of North Korea by US-led forces in late 1950 and the unrelenting three-year long bombing campaign of North Korean cities, towns and villages - `every thing that moved [and] every brick standing on top of another' - help explain why the Pyongyang regime is, and always has been, determined to develop a credible nuclear deterrent.

As Alistair Horne once said so wisely `How different world history would have been if MacArthur had had the good sense to stop on the 38th parallel.

The first Korean War became the first of America's failed modern wars; and its first modern war with China. It established the pattern for the next sixty years and marked the true beginning of the American century - opening the door to ever-increasing military expenditure; launching the long era of expanding American global force projection; and creating the dangerous and festering geopolitical sore that exists in Northeast Asia today. Washington has not learned the lessons of history and we are reaping the consequences. 

Michael Pembroke's timely book tells the story of the Korean peninsula with compassion for the people of the North and South, understanding and insight for the role of China and concern about the past and present role of the United States.
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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK — The contrast couldn’t be greater, as I read this novel on my holiday break in coastal paradise. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is devastating.

But within the horror, Morris has found heart and hope. Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project) accurately describes it as “moving, confronting and uplifting”. It’s a big story, with ethical and moral conundrums.

I find myself contemplating not only these past events, but also the sheer magnitude of inhumanity that people can inflict on others - while never once thinking of doing the same to their own family. And also knowing that inhumane acts and policies persist today.

I hope this novel finds the mainstream readership it warrants, to remind us of the danger to us all when we judge ‘the other’ and rationalise our bigotry. Craig Kirchner

———

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies' man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tetowierer - the tattooist - to mark his fellow prisoners, forever.

One of them is a young woman, Gita who steals his heart at first glance. His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.

'Morris climbs into the dark miasma of war and emerges with an extraordinary tale of the power of love' Leah Kaminsky
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The Accident on the A35

The Accident on the A35

Graeme Macrae Burnet

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— After you’ve finished the first two novels in this trilogy, you’ll feel you could never live in the dreary French border town of Saint-Louis - or perhaps you’d love to! In these quiet novels, Macrae Burnet has found a wonderful niche: the unprepossessing underdog. No mastermind detectives or villains here. Death even visits Saint-Louis with lacklustre menace. In this second instalment Detective Gorski, whose personal world has been bent out of shape with the departure of his wife and daughter, investigates a seemingly straightforward death by car accident. The Afterword is also dryly amusing and gives insight to the tone and influences that Macrae Burnet brings to his work across this trilogy - beautifully crafted writing with a 'European classic' feel. His affinity and fascination with the awkward and ill-at-ease sees him craft a story that is pitch-perfect. I look forward to the third novel. Craig Kirchner

——

From the author of the Man Booker–shortlisted His Bloody Project, this is the spellbinding follow-up to Graeme Macrae Burnet’s debut noir novel The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau.

The methodical but troubled Chief Inspector Georges Gorski visits the wife of a lawyer killed in a road accident, the accident on the A35. The case is unremarkable, the visit routine. 

Mme Barthelme—alluring and apparently unmoved by the news—has a single question: where was her husband on the night of the accident? The answer might change nothing, but it could change everything. And Gorski sets a course for what can only be a painful truth.

But the dead man’s reticent son is also looking for answers. And his search will have far more devastating consequences.

Graeme Macrae Burnet at 131 York Street Sydney

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Under The Cold Bright Lights

Under The Cold Bright Lights

Garry Disher

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Re-hired into the force to work cold cases, DI Alan Auhl’s laconic style sees him shrug off jibes from younger officers. Easing back into it, the first case is ‘Slab Man’, the gruesome discovery of a skeleton under a residential concrete slab. There are also new developments in two cases Auhl had investigated before his five-year hiatus: a dead farmer, and a doctor whose wives and girlfriends keep dying. When an unexpected turn of events makes it personal, everything changes. Disher is always enjoyable! Craig Kirchner

——

Gripping page turning thriller from one of Australia’s most celebrated literary crime writers.

The young detectives call Alan Auhl a retread, but that doesn’t faze him. He does things his own way - and gets results.

He still lives with his ex-wife, off and on, in a big house full of random boarders and hard-luck stories. And he’s still a cop, even though he retired from Homicide some years ago.

He works cold cases now. Like the death of John Elphick - his daughters still convinced he was murdered, the coroner not so sure. Or the skeleton that’s just been found under a concrete slab. Or the doctor who killed two wives and a girlfriend, and left no evidence at all.

Auhl will stick with these cases until justice is done. One way or another.
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Get Poor Slow

Get Poor Slow

David Free

$29.99

ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— From page one it was clear this was going to be an Abbey’s Bookseller Pick, with its elegant prose combined with pointed barbs and acute observations. The wit and venom with which Ray Saint, the literary critic narrator at the centre of the mystery, conveys his jaundiced world view is thoroughly entertaining.

There are touchstones of the noir crime genre - the femme fatale, the beaten-down, alcohol-dependent ‘detective’ and the first-person narrative. The inventiveness of language, mystery and pace make this a first-class literary tale of a bloke who is battling to clear himself as a suspect in a murder. If Julian Barnes turned his arm at the crime genre, it may well have come out like this.

It makes me smile to place this action among Sydney’s literary personalities although, despite a strapline saying "A deliciously nasty slice of antipodean noir - a crime novel set in Sydney's media and publishing world", there is scant reference to Australia or Sydney. This is not a criticism - this ‘anywhere’ aspect may help this excellent novel deservedly find readers worldwide.

If you do read this and like it, take a moment to also consider the following similarly clever, fresh and pacy novels: The Truth and Other LiesThe TrapBlack TeethWinter Traffic.

Craig Kirchner

——

"By forty you're meant to have the face you deserve. I got the face early. It took me a while to earn it. I believe I am finally there."

Ray Saint is the most reviled literary critic in Australia: a hatchet-man with an unpublished novel in his bottom drawer and a finely-honed bullshit detector.

After being visited by Jade Howe, a marketing assistant at a respected publishing house - a woman who dangles the possibility of sex with him in return for a rave review for her latest discovery - he falls head over heels. When, soon after, she turns up dead - murdered by a person or persons unknown - Ray is not only broken, he is the prime suspect.

Detective Jack Lewin has few doubts about Ray's guilt. Neither, it seems, does the press, who hound Ray's every step. Meanwhile, his vapid editor has temporarily stood him down from reviewing. It will be up to Ray alone to find the man responsible for Jade's murder.

Could it be something to do with the plan she boasted about to him - a plan to create a great Australian novelist out of a mediocre manuscript and a shallow front-man? Or could Jade's death have something to with the bestselling popular historian with the criminal past and the harbour-side home.

As a battered and bloodied Ray investigates more deeply, he is obliged to face the fact that his drinking has reached the point where blackouts make up more of his days than lucid hours. The truth is, he can't be entirely sure that the killer wasn't him.

——

"My favourite Australian literary critic, David Free instantly becomes my favourite Australian author of psychological thrillers, with this gripping tale of a literary man thoroughly screwed up by sexually intriguing women and crazy editors. Free is far too civilised for this kind of thing, which is probably why he's so disturbingly good at doing it." Clive James

David at Abbey’s Hear more

Get Poor Slow by David Free
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The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau

Graeme Macrae Burnet

$19.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Tragedy and mystery in a small French town. Stilted, tense, apprehensive, hermetic are all words I’d use to describe the tone of life for Manfred Baumann, who falls under suspicion over the disappearance of a waitress in a small French town near the Swiss border. There’s a strong sense of sepia yesteryear - although I think it is set some time around the 80's - and European-ness (Dostoyevsky comes to mind).

The novel is the first in a trilogy and I'm intrigued to see how the next one is structured - this one has an interesting quirk in that it is portrayed as being a book translated by Graeme Macrae Burnet. It's a playful approach by the Scottish author who is now enjoying the spotlight for his writing that has come with making it through to the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize 2016 with His Bloody Project, a tale of murder in the Scottish Highlands in 1869. Craig Kirchner

——

Manfred Baumann is a loner. He has always lived in the nondescript French town of Saint-Louis. Shy and awkward, a man of habit, he spends his days working in the local bank and his evenings in the drab Restaurant de la Cloche where he can surreptitiously observe Adele Bedeau, its sullen but alluring waitress.

Until, one day, Adele vanishes.

Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate. Manfred is rattled, and the careful routine of his life starts to crumble around him. And that's when he meets Alice Tarrou.

Graeme Macrae Burnet's spellbinding debut novel The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau is an intimate portrayal of an outsider in a small community, of a man who cannot shake the feeling he is always being watched, whose every moment is determined by the catastrophic secrets of his past.

Graeme Macrae Burnet at 131 York Street Sydney
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Winter Traffic

Winter Traffic

Stephen Greenall

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— When you read a debut novel, very often what you are getting is the full force of the author’s imagination and personality - incubated sometimes for years and unencumbered by expectations and prior convictions.

From the opening chapters of Stephen Greenall’s first novel, the strangeness of timelines and darkly evocative language draws me deeper into its spell. A story of Sydney’s glossy veneer abutting its criminal underbelly. Sin City. The writing is of the highest calibre - a muscular, lyrical telling of high-class escorts in eastern suburbs brothels, bikies, dead judges, vendettas, fading hero cops and laconic tough-guys nursing broken hearts. This is a novel where the mood evoked plays as large a role as, or perhaps even greater than, the plotline. It's a love letter to the city of Sydney - its beauty and its flaws.

A truly superb debut. One for the dark poets. Craig Kirchner

——

Sutton doesn't like the three a.m. phone calls. He should change his number - that way Rawson wouldn't have it. Sutton's best mate is a hero cop, but strife flows through him like a highway.

Rawson was supposed to die young. Maybe Millar will do it for him - she's the hot young detective from Internal who still thinks intellect and integrity will take her places. If she doesn't watch her step, she might find out what they are.

This is the story of good dogs living in a bad-news town - a fragrant harbour city where the judges are dead, the vendettas lively and every glittering fortune hides a sin.

An epic novel of corruption, murder and the true nature of justice, Winter Traffic announces the arrival of a compelling new voice among Australian writers.
 
Greenall's writing has appeared in Overland and he won the 2014 NSW Writers Centre Varuna Fellowship. This novel was commended in the 2014 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.
 
PORTRAIT OF STEPHEN GREENALL WITH WHITE UTE 

Winter Traffic by Stephen Greenall at 131 York Street Sydney
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Something For Nothing

Something For Nothing

Andy Muir

$24.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— When I reached the end of Andy Muir’s novel, the last line of his Acknowledgements tells us Lachie Munro will return - which is a good thing.

Set in Newcastle (or ‘Newie’) this story strikes a larrikin-tone somewhere around Robert G Barrett’s Les Norton series, Shane Maloney's Murray Whelan series and Peter Corris’ Cliff Hardy series. This first appearance of Lachie Munro - house painter and abalone poacher - enjoys a strong cast of characters and lively dialogue through Muir’s ability to channel a current-day, easy-going Australian vernacular (Ocker—lite) honed through extensive experience in screenwriting for many iconic Australian TV shows (Neighbours, Home and Away, All Saints, MDA).

Munro’s life is by his own assessment directionless and there is also a back-story of a criminal father and a mother desperate to see her son not go the same way. Try as he might to do the right thing and make the right choices, Lachie, along with his poaching mate, Dave, embark on a treacherous path after they discover a suitcase of heroin. The bind gets tighter and by midway through the novel, question marks about who to trust hover above many heads. Relaxing and enjoyable reading that is sure to get a following. Craig Kirchner

——

It’s not every day a bloke stumbles on a dismembered torso on Nobby’s Beach.

Lachie Munro is starting to feel like he’s is a magnet for trouble. The day before he fished a giant haul of heroin out of his favourite abalone poaching spot near Newcastle.

There’s a better than even chance that the two are connected and he should leave well enough alone.

But the opportunity to clear his gambling debt and get ahead of the game is too good to pass up.

But how do you sell several kilos of heroin? It’s not like drug dealers are listed in the Yellow Pages. And what happens when the owners come looking for their missing package? Is the torso a warning to anyone thinking of crossing them?

Now a person of interest to the police, Lachie needs to stay one step ahead of them, a local bikie he’s managed to insult, play off a big time dealer from Sydney, placate the neighbour’s labrador, Horace, and win the heart of the gorgeous new Fisheries Officer he’s fallen for. Or will he discover that getting into the gun sights of the crooked, the dodgy and the downright shady characters of Newcastle and beyond is more than a man can handle.

But, if Lachie can pull it all off, he might just get Something for Nothing.

Something for Nothing by Andy Muir at 131 York Street Sydney

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Signal Loss: Inspector Challis #7

Signal Loss: Inspector Challis #7

Garry Disher

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Disher’s Peninsula Crimes series are solid police procedurals that bring in topics of the day - in this case, it is the terrifying effect that the drug ‘ice’ has on users and their families, and depicts the network of soulless ‘business’ people that lie behind it - even in rural regions like Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Disher has a deft touch for the tone of the emotional lives of his police characters. Craig Kirchner

——


The seventh instalment in Garry Disher's celebrated Peninsula Crimes series sets up new challenges, both professional and personal, for Challis and his partner Ellen Destry.

Inspector Hal Challis's inquiries into a local ice epidemic take a darker turn when a bushfire forces ice cooks to abandon their lab and bodies found in a burnt-out Mercedes prove to be a pair of Sydney hitmen.

Meanwhile, Ellen Destry, head of the new sex crimes unit, finds herself not only juggling the personalities of her team but hunting a serial rapist who leaves no evidence behind.

Disher delivers with all the suspense and human complexity for which readers love him. He has won numerous awards, including the German Crime Prize (twice) and two Ned Kelly Best Crime novel awards, for Chain of Evidence (2007) and Wyatt (2010). Garry lives on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
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The Permanent Resident

The Permanent Resident

Roanna Gonsalves

$24.99
NSW PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS - MULTICULTURAL AWARD 2018
 
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Starting life in another country is the subject matter of Roanna Gonsalves short story collection titled The Permanent Resident. The thought-provoking stories here are of people facing the challenges of fitting in and being accepted in their new country as they try to do the things we all hope to do - get good jobs, form friendships, find love, start families. Some amusing, some poignant and offering cross-cultural insights on negotiating a new country - its potential and its potential threats. Craig Kirchner

——

A woman who can't swim wades into a suburban pool.

An Indian family sits down to an Australian Christmas dinner.

A single mother's offer to coach her son's soccer team leads to an unexpected encounter.

A recent migrant considers taking the fall for a second generation 'friend'.

A wife refuses to let her husband look at her phone.

An international student gets off a train at night.

Roanna Gonsalves' short stories unearth the aspirations, ambivalence and guilt laced through the lives of 21st century immigrants, steering through clashes of cultures, trials of faith, and squalls of racism. Sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes playful, they cut to the truth of what it means to be a modern outsider.


The Permanent Resident by Roanna Gonsalves at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street Sydney

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The Tao Deception: Tori Swyft #2

The Tao Deception: Tori Swyft #2

John M Green

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Perfect holiday big-action escapism.

Using the tagline ’Today’s conspiracy theory, tomorrow’s reality’, John M Green’s latest action thriller probes geopolitical and social pressure points with “What if?” questions. Throw in some misuse of new technologies and what Green presents to us for our reading leisure are some terrifying scenarios. If you’re a survivalist, this is grist to your mill. If you’re not, you may find yourself pricing bulk canned goods.

It’s a fast-moving adventure for those fond of Ludlum and Grisham and the jibes, sexual tensions and camaraderie in adversity underscore the action in a way that will please fans of Matthew Reilly and TV shows like NCIS and the Mission Impossible movies. The stylings and eccentricities of Thatcher, hacker-extraordinaire, I found especially enjoyable.

This is the second novel to feature Dr Tori Swyft, an athletic surfer with coding chops - both performed at international pro-level. The Trusted introduced Tori, the red-headed, green-eyed daughter of an Aussie surfie father and a US Berkeley graduate mother, the father raising their daughter after the mysterious disappearance of her mother (does Green have her squirreled away for later?) before Tori’s ill-fated stint with the CIA.

Both novels have Tori now in the employ of a ridiculously well-heeled yet clandestine mergers and acquisitions consultancy. With funds to burn and dealing with the globe’s biggest corporate playmakers, their work takes them to many an exotic place, often in exceedingly well-appointed surroundings. In The Tao Deception however, Green throws Tori and her collaborators in the way of harm in such a way that the tension is ratcheted up so finely, so tautly, right until the very last pages.

Sex. Power. Toys. It’s a potent mix. And great fun to read. Craig Kirchner
 
----- 
 
Today's Conspiracy Theory… Tomorrow's Reality…

The pope is assassinated - death by drone.

A Chinese Uyghur terrorist group claims responsibility.

Dr Tori Swyft, Australian corporate dealmaker and ex-spy uncovers a Chinese technology company stashing billions into secret accounts.

The money trail leads Tori to China's North Korean border and an explosive conspiracy aiming to wipe out the Western world.

With the clock ticking, Tori Swyft confronts the ultimate decision - save her own life or sacrifice it for millions of others…


The Tao Deception: Tori Swyft #2 by John M Green at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street Sydney

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The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage

The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage

Anja Reich-Osang ,  Imogen Taylor

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— The fascinating thing about this book is how it draws you into the lives of the couple at the centre, the Scholls. Well structured, it begins with the last day of Brigitte Scholl’s life in 2011 and the subsequent arrest of her husband Heinrich Scholl, before rewinding 50 years to when they first met in the East German town of Ludwigsfelde. Reich-Osang, herself originally from East Germany, sets out the less than desirable manner in which Heinrich and Brigitte came to be married. From there the pattern of their lives unfolds.

The ‘can do’ abilities of ‘Heiner’ inspire admiration as he achieves in his various jobs (at one time he was a circus manager) and eventually becomes Mayor of Ludwigsfelde, a position he held for 18 years. Likewise, the strength and certainties of 'Gitti' who was the proprietor of a beautician boutique with a loyal customer base. As the book proceeds, however, we begin to see the flip-sides of these character traits. Yet despite the grim end to Brigitte’s life, this is not especially dark or depressing to read. The prose and tone that Reich-Osang strikes makes this much more a revealing examination around the foibles of lives and the hidden side to an otherwise success story.

The other aspect that is so interesting in this story is the setting, straddling the creation of East Germany and then the fall, with glimpses into life behind the Wall and after. The case caused a sensation in Germany at the time. The prologue reveals the tug-of-war mind games that the journalist/author has with the character of Heinrich Scholl, who is still serving time for the murder and steadfastly sticking to his claim of innocence. Did he do it? Over to you…

Craig Kirchner

——

On a cold December morning in 2011, a woman's body is found in a forest near Berlin, hidden between tall trees under dry leaves and moss. She has been strangled in cold blood. The victim's husband, Heinrich Scholl, is devastated. He is well respected in the community, a former mayor, and had been happily married-or so it seemed-for almost fifty years. Heinrich Scholl is soon arrested and after a long trial is sentenced to life imprisonment. To this day he pleads not guilty. Can this charming, courteous man possibly be a killer? Journalist Anja Reich-Osang followed the case from its beginning and talked to family, friends and Heinrich Scholl himself. She tells an utterly gripping story of marriage, sex and politics, in which nothing is as it seems.

INTERVIEW

I spoke with journalist Anja Reich-Osang about the married couple at the centre of this tragedy and about the writing of her book.


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Slaughter Park: Belltree Trilogy #3

Slaughter Park: Belltree Trilogy #3

Barry Maitland

$29.99

ABBEY’S CHOICE OCTOBER 2016 — This has been a scintillating trilogy. Detective Harry Belltree has a touch of the ‘Dirty’ about him - a doggedness and distrust that sees him doing things his own way. This disregard and wariness of the system and his fellow officers means that he’s often right in the thick of it in ways that would see him behind bars if his superiors ever found out. He’s also Harry ’nine-lives’ what with his near-death encounters as he digs away at what others see as his unhealthy obsession - finding out who murdered his parents with the supposed accident that also left his wife blind.

 

The trilogy is set in and around Sydney, centred around three gruesomely evocative fictional locales. The NSW police force, outlaw bikie gangs, powerful corporate heads and an equally dogged but vulnerable newspaper reporter are the ingredients and Maitland wastes no time in driving the action forward in this solid and thrilling series.

 

The first two books were both shortlisted for Australia’s top prize for crime writing, the Ned Kelly Award - Best Crime Fiction, in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

 

By the time we arrive at book 3, Harry himself and many of those around him are either dead, damaged, or in a state of distress. The broad arc across the three books - the burning question of why Harry's parents were killed - reaches its climax in a thoroughly satisfying fashion.


Craig Kirchner


 

 

Book 1: Crucifixion Creek

 

Book 2: Ash Island

-----

Harry Belltree's obsessive pursuit of justice has cost him everything - his job in homicide, his marriage and his newborn child. He has nothing left to lose, or so he thinks. Then his estranged wife disappears, leaving their baby daughter behind. The police think Jenny has murdered a man. Harry thinks she's in danger. When severed limbs are found dangling from the branches of trees in a suburban park, Harry's former colleagues are pulled off Jenny's case.

It's up to Harry to track his missing wife down on his own. And to lay bare, at last, the extraordinary conspiracy that led to his parents' murder.


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The Cosmopolitans

The Cosmopolitans

Anjum Hasan

$29.99  $10.00
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— “It’s hard work, being a modern Indian” says a central character in this gently-paced and thoughtful novel - which is also a concise summary of the broad themes explored here. Qayenaat (like Cher, she only goes by the one name) is one of the cosmopolitans - city-dwellers enjoying art, food and a comfortable life - although for Qayennaat, cracks are appearing in her financial stability. With a tragic turn, Qayenaat’s life is up-ended and taking refuge in the country, she encounters another India, where tradition holds fast. At first there is charm... Craig Kirchner

——

Qayenaat is a middle-aged editor and critic who hovers at the edge of the Bangalore art scene. Her old friend and former protege, Baban Reddy, has become a hugely successful artist on the international stage and his return to Bangalore brings back memories and experiences Qayenaat had carefully repressed. In a swirl of heightened emotion, Qayenaat commits an unforgivable crime and flees to rural India in the hope of avoiding its repercussions. There she forms a relationship with the unlikeliest of men - the local monarch whose palace, like the region, has fallen into disrepair.

Asking questions about art, love, class and the responsibilities of the bourgeoisie, The Cosmopolitans is a rich and engaging novel, by turns tender and satirical. Hasan has a fine voice and an impeccable sense of irony that, coupled with perfect comic timing, makes this an entertaining and highly sophisticated novel.

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Fire Boy (#1 Fire Boy)

Fire Boy (#1 Fire Boy)

Sami Shah

$19.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICKSami Shah, comedian, journalist, social commentator and declared atheist, took everyone by surprise when his first novel appeared, featuring other-world creatures such as djinns (spirits) and chudails (female ghosts). Shah’s depiction of a pivotal car crash scene is particularly vivid and there are some despicable, gore-loving characters - some of them human!

Wahid is a boy who came into the world in an unusual fashion (a considerable understatement) and who grows up to be a conscientious student, playing Dungeons & Dragons with his close friends, and on the verge of discovering girls. The car crash changes all that. The death of his friend and with his fledgling girlfriend lying comatose and soulless (stolen by djinns), Wahid is on the run from the girl's avenging father and other dark forces that have targeted Wahid. Fire Boy is part one of this evocative tale.

All of this action takes place against a backdrop of life in Shah’s native home of Pakistan, a country which when compared to Australia, is one of extremes. Modern life exists in many of the same ways we know it here (schooling, video gaming, mobile phones) yet it brushes uncomfortably against superstition and religious observance that is at times unforgiving. When recently at Abbey’s to talk about his novel Shah commented on how when growing up in Pakistan, some attitudes and beliefs he simply accepted because there was no other perspective. Only on coming to live in Australia did he discover that the rest of the world didn’t always see things the same way. This revelation occurs to anyone who travels and while always arresting, sometimes it can also be life-changing. Craig Kirchner


Fire Boy, an urban fantasy set in modern-day Pakistan, where djinns roam the streets alongside corrupt cops, hustling beggars, and creatures from the darkest corners of Islamic mythology. Growing up in Karachi isn't easy.

Wahid has a lot on his mind: the girl he likes, mostly, but also choosing a good university and finding time to play Dungeons and Dragons. Oh, and the fact that he can see djinns, other-worldly creatures made of a smokeless and scorching fire.

After a horrific car accident kills his best friend and djinns steal his girlfriend's soul, Wahid vows to find out why. Fortunately, he has help in finding the djinns that tried to kill him. Unfortunately, that help is from the darkest of all spirits, the Devil himself ...

Fire Boy is filled with supernatural entities and high-paced action, but it also gives the reader a vivid insight into life in Pakistan. Ages 15+  

Fire Boy by Sami Shah at GALAXY Bookshop 131 York Street Sydney

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We're All Going to Die: A Joyful Book About Death

We're All Going to Die: A Joyful Book About Death

Leah Kaminsky

$27.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— When I first saw Dr Leah Kaminsky’s book I wondered who might be the audience for a book on this topic. Those with a morbid fascination? Hypochondriacs? Or someone actually facing down death? Perhaps it is best to start with Kaminsky’s own reason for writing it - confronting her own fear of death. In doing this, she looks at death from many angles - child mortality, near-death experience, death-defying risk-taking, hypochondria, depression and suicide, illness, and how to die well - if that is possible.

Having strong elements of memoir, Kaminsky is at her most captivating when relating personal experiences - with her children, her mother’s suicide, with friends and her patients throughout her medical career - and we sense that the frankness and self-examination with which she writes about these did not come easily. Craig Kirchner

——

A joyful book about the necessity of celebrating life in the face of death. The one certainty about life is that everybody is going to die. Yet somehow as a society we have come to deny this central fact - we ignore it, hoping it will go away.

Ours is an ageing society, where we are all living longer, healthier lives, yet we find ourselves less and less prepared for our inevitable end. Leah Kaminsky is an award-winning writer and GP, who is confronted by death and mortality on a daily basis. She shares - and challenges - our fears of death and dying. But she also takes joy in people whose response to their imminent death is to choose, instead, to consciously embrace life.

Like 90 year old Julia, a great-great-grandmother, officially an LOL in Leah's medical terminology (little old lady), who wants to compete in the Senior Olympics. Or a dying friend, who throws himself a 'pre-funeral' gig, to say goodbye to everyone he loves. As Leah says in this uplifting book,  'If we truly open ourselves up to the experiences of those directly confronted with their own mortality, maybe we will overcome our own tunnel vision and decide to live our lives more fully.'

This is an engaging, compassionate and compelling book about death - or more specifically, about how, by facing and accepting our coming death, we can all learn to live in a more vital, fearless and truthful way.

'A beautiful, brave, inspiring work.  Required reading for anyone who plans to die.'  Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author of Stiff

'Everyone dies, and so I highly recommend Leah Kaminsky's sensitive and at times irreverent book about death to everyone.' Sandeep Jauhar, New York Times bestselling author of Doctored and Intern

We're

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Black Teeth

Black Teeth

Zane Lovitt

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Four oddball loners become entwined in a very strange and novel situation. Revenge and murder, and very enjoyable as layers peel away to reveal tragic truths. Witty and literary, Zane Lovitt’s writing pops with youthful invention and has that irresistible pull as to what happens next. 

Jason Ginaff goes by many names. This is due in part to his hyper-vigilant attitude to privacy and also to his consulting work, utilising his keen skills in accessing information online about corporate job candidates to unearth embarrassing or compromising stuff they’d forgotten or thought they’d deleted. He’s an accomplished liar.

Jason has also been seeking out the father he never knew. And now he’s found him. Former Detective Glen Tyan, known as ‘The Polygraph’ for his ability to suss out a liar.

Rudy Alamein is a man-child whose stunted development arose from the tragic murder of his mother thirteen years ago, for which his father was incarcerated. Rudy wants Glen Tyan dead.

And then there’s Elizabeth.  

As the day of reckoning draws nearer, some very intriguing aspects about the murder of Cheryl Alamein are unearthed.

When I finished reading this, I kind of wished I was starting out again. Very, very enjoyable. I’ll be seeking out Lovitt's debut, The Midnight Promise (Winner: Best First Fiction - NED KELLY AWARDS 2013), and anything else he cares to write. Craig Kirchner

——


Black Teeth is a witty, dynamic contemporary thriller by an emerging master of the form. Beautifully written and darkly funny, it's both a literary triumph and an irresistible read.



Praise for Zane Lovitt's debut, The Midnight Promise: 'The kind of zesty Australian crime writing that doesn't come along often... Lovitt's evocation of Melbourne locales has the same recognisability, affection and flair for soaking up the stink of a place as Shane Maloney's Murray Whelan books.' Sydney Morning Herald

'What makes Dorn such a compelling narrator is that for all his decrepitude he has a reflective spirit and an insightful eye... An often brutal, yet brutally reflective, examination of the human condition.' Weekend Australian

’Lovitt has crafted a notable, confident first novel. Intelligent, never ponderous, The Midnight Promise wears the battered fedora of the crime genre with stylish ease and moves at a brisk pace. Told with intensity and conviction, it offers a refreshing perspective on a well worked genre.' Australian Book Review

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Dead Men Don't Order Flake

Dead Men Don't Order Flake

Sue Williams

$29.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK ~ Those among you who remember TV series like Sea Change and Northern Exposure will know the joy of spending time with a bunch of small town eccentrics. Sue Williams has tapped into this vibe with a sharp wit, tempered with a touch of family drama.

An enormously enjoyable and pacy novel set in a speck of a country town in rural Victoria, with a plucky amateur sleuth amid a quirky ensemble of townsfolk and family. Quintessentially Australian without being overcooked. Craig Kirchner

——

Cass Tuplin’s heart is king-hit when her first-love, Leo Stone, walks into her fish ’n’ chips shop. Thing is - Leo died twenty years ago. Or so everyone thought.

That same day Cass gets a call from Gary Kellett about his daughter, a journalist, who died in a car crash a few months back. Gary's adamant it was no accident. Cass agrees to investigate. After all, not only is Cass the owner of Rusty Bore's finest (and only) purveyor of fast food, she’s also made a bit of a name for herself as the ‘go-to’ private detective within a couple of hundred Ks.

But being an unlicenced PI, Cass risks running afoul of the law - represented locally by her son Dean - a policeman with issues and prone to taking the hard-line towards to any infringement.

Dean warns his mother off her amateur meddling, asserting his belief that Gary is simply a delusional, grieving father. Is that the case? Or did a young journo die for other reasons?

Another tasty offering from the author of Murder with the Lot.

Dead Men Don't Order Flake by Sue Williams at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street Sydney

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Educated Youth

Educated Youth

Ye Xin

$29.99
A novel that touches the heart for the children left behind.
 
During the Cultural Revolution over fourteen million Chinese high school graduates were sent from the cities to live and work in the countryside. They were known as zhiqing – ‘educated youth’. They fell in love, married, had children. In the late 1970s the policy changed and they were allowed to return, but not their families. Many jumped at the opportunity, leaving spouses and children behind. Ten years later the children, now teenagers, began to turn up in the cities, looking for their parents.
 
Educated Youth follows five such children, who have travelled across China from a province in the south west to Shanghai in the east, only to discover that their mothers and fathers have remarried, and have new families, in which there is no room for them. Their reappearance brings out the worst in the parents – their duplicity, greed and self-interest – and the best too, as they struggle to come to terms with their sense of love and duty.
 
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Written in the nineties and only now available to the English language reader, this classic Chinese novel provides yet another example of grand social engineering undertaken by governments, only to be dismantled in years to come, by which time their policies have left a trail of broken families and abandoned children.
 
This is a warm and rewarding novel with insights into Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and how the edicts were received and observed (or not) by those it sought to control. A novel that touches the heart for the children left behind. Craig Kirchner
 
‘With a mix of popular storytelling, psychological insight and startling candour about his generation, Ye Xin turns a slice of recent Shanghai life into an entertaining, touching novel. It’s great to have a fine English version of this Chinese modern classic.’ Nicholas Jose
 
——
 
Xin_Ye
Ye Xin was born in Shanghai in October 1949. He was sent to Guizhou Province as a zhiqing in 1969 and worked on the construction of the Hunan-Guizhou railway. His novels include High Sierra in Miaoling, The Ages of Idling Away, Family Education, Love Has No Choice and Shanghai Diary. He has won many awards including the October Prize and the National Prize for Best Novel. He is vice-chairman of the Writers’ Association of China and the Writers’ Association of Shanghai, and director of the Institute of Literature of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
 
han_jing2
Dr Jing Han is the translator of Educated Youth by Ye Xin and she received her PhD degree in English literature from University of Sydney in 1995 and her MA in English and American Literatures from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1986. Dr Han joined SBS TV in 1996 and she is now the head of SBS Subtitling Department. Over the last 19 years, she has subtitled more than 300 Chinese films and TV programs for the Australian audience including the currently showing TV series If You Are The One. Dr Han also lectures at Western Sydney University, teaching translation studies including audiovisual translation, literary translation and accreditation studies.
 
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A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James

$22.99
WINNER 2015 Man Booker Prize.
 
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— I read Marlon James' 700 page novel over the Christmas break in the Summer of 2015. Every night my mind would travel to Jamaica, finding itself outside the beaches and safe tourist zones full of bars, restaurants and shops. I never saw those. My time in Jamaica was spent running with the raggedy young men brandishing their weapons, and listening to their braggadocio peppered with, no… smothered in juvenile misogyny. It takes a while for me to grasp that their childish talk is precisely because they are still children - boys not men.

The structure of the book is interesting. No chapters as such but instead we have alternating first-person viewpoints of events and goings-on. Often we return to a person, getting more of their specific world view. I found the monologues from ganglords Papa Lo and Josey Wales to be particularly striking. Like the TV series The Wire, we gradually build an understanding of the many forces at play between the key players - the CIA, the politicians, the rival gangs, and life in the ghettos.

Some readers will struggle with the Jamaican patois. I loved it, gradually tuning in to the meaning and use of words and phrases. If you can handle that then you will be rewarded with an epic and detailed story around the violent exploitation of poverty-stricken youth towards the aims of political power struggles. Craig Kirchner
 
----- 
 
A musical, electric, fantastically profane epic that explores the tumultuous world of Jamaica over the past three decades. New York Times

Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivalled skills of characterisation and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

 
Jamaica, 1976: On December 3, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer's house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumours abound regarding the assassins fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated. The reggae superstar survives, but leaves Jamaica the following day, not to return for two years.

Inspired by this near-mythic event, James delves deep into this dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica's history and beyond. This is an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards' drug dealer.

Marlon James's dazzling novel is a tour de force. It traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined - and questions asked - in a masterpiece of imagination.

Justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and no one can truly escape his fate.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James at Abbey’s Bookshop 131 York Street Sydney

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The Trap

The Trap

Melanie Raabe ,  Imogen Taylor (Trans.)

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is the second crime fiction novel I've read recently that has come out of Germany. The first was The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango and now The Trap by Melanie Raabe. Both have been debut novels, both have featured writing and story-telling of the highest order, both have Imogen Taylor as translator and both come from Text Publishing. And both feature fictional authors with secrets to hide.

Another common element is that both authors have links with the dramatic arts, Arango being an award-winning screenplay writer and Raabe being an actor as well as a stage and screenwriter. I mention this because there is a freshness to the intensity of each novel that I think comes about because the authors know they are writing for a sophisticated audience who, having read many thrillers and seen many crime television shows and movies, are very knowledgable of the tropes of the genre. 

Over four days I was drawn in to the hermetic world of Linda Conrads, an author who, despite considerable success, is unable to leave her house due to trauma brought on by her being the sole witness to the escaping murderer of her sister. The murderer was never caught and in the twelve years that have since passed, her illness has meant all her contact with the outside world is through technology and a small cohort of colleagues such as her publisher and agent. Linda Conrads is, despite her wish to be well again, the mysterious reclusive author. Then, on television, she sees the face of the murderer.

Written in the first person, it doesn't take long for the reader to be cocooned in the hothouse paranoia that exists in Linda Conrads' head as she devises a trap to draw out her sister's murderer and extract a confession. This is a super-taut psycho-thriller.

Craig Kirchner


p.s. Melanie Raabe doesn't have a sister and her brother is alive and well.


-----


"I know who killed my sister. I wrote this book for him."

Twelve years ago, Linda's sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him.

Now, all these years later, she's just seen him again on TV.

He's become a well-known journalist, and Linda–a famous novelist and infamous recluse–knows no one will believe her if she accuses him.

She does the only thing she can think of: she sets a trap, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman.

When Blood Sisters is published, Linda agrees to give just one media interview.

At home.

To the one person who knows more about the case than she does...

The Trap by Melanie Raabe at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Dangerous to Know: Natalie King #2

Dangerous to Know: Natalie King #2

Anne Buist ,  Anne Buist

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Anne Buist's forensic psychiatrist Dr Natalie King has been described as having shades of Lisbeth Salander (Stieg Larsson's tattooed 'Girl') about her, what with the motorbike and rock chic. But her vulnerabilities that come via an ongoing battle with depression also bring to mind a strong impression of a brunette version of Carrie Mathison from the TV series Homeland.

Making her debut in Medea's Curse, Natalie King is a strong personality with intelligence and intuition who is, however, in a struggle with how to move forward in her relationships and lifestyle.

For lovers of medical thriller/dramas, there's plenty of medical jargon and psych-terminology that steep the book in authenticity (Buist is a leading perinatal psychiatrist and Chair of Women's Mental Health at University of Melbourne).

But it is the unnerving presence of new employer, Frank Moreton and his tragic history of pregnant wives that really draw you in. Just what is going on? Is he a murderer? Buist interleaves the action with short chapters written from Frank's viewpoint and this works wonderfully in unsettling the reader. As more and more is revealed about Frank and his creepy family (who hold themselves in such lofty regard), this story really does have you guessing right till the end as to 'who did what?' and 'why?'.

Craig Kirchner

------

Natalie King is back: back from a stay on the psych ward. Her reluctance to live a quiet life has contributed to a severe depressive episode, and now it's time for a retreat to the country. A borrowed house on the Great Ocean Road; a low-key research job at a provincial university nearby.

But Natalie and trouble have a strange mutual fascination. Her charismatic new boss Frank is friendly, even attractive. But it turns out his pregnant wife is an old enemy of Natalie's. And when Frank's tragic personal history is revealed - then reprised in the most shocking way - Natalie finds herself drawn deep into a mystery. And even deeper into danger.

Dangerous to Know is the second gripping psychological thriller to feature Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist, following Medea's Curse.
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The Heat

The Heat

Garry Disher

$29.99
ABBEY'S CHOICE NOVEMBER 2015 ----- The last outing for Garry Disher's career-criminal Wyatt was in the 2010 Ned Kelly Award Best Fiction winner (simply titled Wyatt).

In this, the eighth in the series, most of the action takes place on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and it's fun to think that somewhere in Noosa this summer a holiday-maker will be immersed in this perfect holiday read and the fictional mayhem will be just that bit more authentic!

A lone wolf, driven not so much by a desire for material wealth as a desire to work only infrequently, Wyatt is quite different to his criminal milieu. For a start, he's a man very in control of his environment and his behaviours. He moves like a shark among the rest of us and Disher's wry observations, seen through Wyatt's eyes, are enjoyable and revealing. I now also know a lot more of criminal techniques and methods.

Perhaps most astonishing of all, Wyatt is a Victorian with no interest in the AFL! Grab this for a great time following the double-dealing among criminals. Craig Kirchner

-----

Wyatt needs a job.

A bank job would be nice, or a security van hold-up. As long as he doesn’t have to work with cocky idiots and strung-out meth-heads like the Pepper brothers. That’s the sort of miscalculation that buys you the wrong kind of time.

So he contacts a man who in the past put him on the right kind of heist. And finds himself in Noosa, stealing a painting for Hannah Sten.

He knows how it’s done: case the premises, set up escape routes and failsafes, get in and get out with the goods unrecognised. Make a good plan; back it up with another. And be very, very careful.

But who is his client? Who else wants that painting?

Sometimes, being very careful is not enough.

The Heat at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Devil is a Black Dog: stories from the Middle East and beyond

The Devil is a Black Dog: stories from the Middle East and beyond

Sandor Jaszberenyi

$24.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Although categorised as Biography, the short stories presented here are crafted in the way of fiction - dark, sober tales that capture with brutal candidness the difficulties, oddities and horrors surrounding lives in war torn regions of the Middle East and Africa and the itinerant life of the foreign correspondent. Written by a Hungarian war correspondent, this is not straight reportage but rather they are the stories behind the sad headlines we read. Highly recommended for non-fiction and fiction readers seeking a broader perspective. Craig Kirchner

-----

 'I don't regret anything, really. I never wanted to live a sensible life ...I didn't want a sensible death either.'

War-torn Africa, a Middle East in crisis, and post-Soviet Eastern Europe form the backdrop to the stories told in The Devil Is a Black Dog - stories based on the extraordinary experiences of acclaimed photojournalist Sandor Jaszberenyi.

From Cairo to the Gaza Strip, from  Benghazi to Budapest, his characters contemplate the meaning of home, love, family, and friendship in the face of brutality. Immersed in the societies he reports on and heedless in the face of war and revolution, Jaszberenyi observes mothers, martyrs, soldiers, and lovers who must confront the extremes of contemporary experience.

In spare, evocative prose, he combines fact and fiction to create a profoundly true portrait of the humanity behind the headlines.

The Devil is a Black Dog: Stories from the Middle East and Beyond by Sandor Jaszberenyi at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Wendy Whiteley And The Secret Garden

Wendy Whiteley And The Secret Garden

Janet Hawley

$79.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This wonderful coffee-table book is a really striking production that is part-memoir, part-gardening and part-history, covering Wendy's early life, her time with Brett and daughter Arkie, whilst also looking at early Lavender Bay and the neglected land bordering the bay that Wendy and a team of enthusiasts have transformed into a garden for all. Craig Kirchner

This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself. For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. 

Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model. An artist herself, with a finely honed aesthetic sense, she also created the interiors at the heart of Brett's iconic paintings of their Lavender Bay home. When Brett died, followed by the death nine years later of their daughter Arkie, Wendy threw her grief and creativity into making an enchanting hidden oasis out of derelict land owned by the New South Wales Government.

This glorious guerrilla garden is Wendy's living artwork, designed with daubs of colour, sinuous shapes and shafts of light. This is Wendy's story but it's also the story of the countless people who cherish the Secret Garden.

'I've loved making this garden. It's been a great gift to my life. It let me find myself again, and it's my gift to share with the public.' Wendy Whiteley

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A Murder Unmentioned: Rowland Sinclair #6

A Murder Unmentioned: Rowland Sinclair #6

Sulari Gentill

$22.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Having returned to Australia following close scrapes in a Europe rife with fascism, the questioning quartet of Rowland Sinclair and his friends, Edna Higgins, 'Milton' Elias Isaacs and Clyde Watson look forward to spending Christmas safely cloistered in the well-heeled Sydney enclave of Woolahra.

Those plans go awry with news of a murder - the murder of Henry Sinclair, Rowland Sinclair's father. Stranger still, the murder was thirteen years ago.

With this revelation in the sixth novel in this warm series, Sulari Gentill takes us into the darkest corners of the pastoral nobility that is the Sinclair family. The characters of Rowland Sinclair and his brother Wil emerge even more strongly defined as the tensions and drama unfold. Another corker! Craig Kirchner

------

The black sheep of a wealthy grazier dynasty, gentleman artist Rowland Sinclair often takes matters into his own hands. When the matter is murder, there are consequences.

For thirteen years, Rowland has tried to forget, but now the past has returned. A newly-discovered gun casts light on a family secret long kept... a murder the Sinclairs would prefer stayed unsolved.

As old wounds tear open, the dogged loyalty of Rowland's inappropriate companions is all that stands between him and the consequences of a brutal murder... one he simply failed to mention.

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Unbroken Line: Will Harris #2

The Unbroken Line: Will Harris #2

Alex Hammond

$32.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The unbroken line, we learn a little way into this story, is the distinct chain of evidence between the crime and the alleged perpetrator. In this legal thriller, we also come to see that it can be read as being the line that delineates the proper and ethical actions of Police, prosecutors and defence lawyers. And try as he might, defence solicitor Will Harris not only struggles to stay clear of the line but often tramples all over it.

Harris has his heart in the right place, but his head needs some work as he is drawn to pursue matters that place him in compromising, threatening and brutal situations. These personality traits give Harris a complex character which frustrate his desire, and of those close to him, to have some semblance of a normal life while going about the necessary work for his clients.

As the story unfolds, references to events that occurred in book #1, Blood Witness, are frequent but this doesn't detract from the current story. Instead, this tends to build a strong sense of the continuing thread between the books and certain developments remain in play that will no doubt continue into book #3. Craig Kirchner

-----

Gripping, sophisticated and strikingly atmospheric, The Unbroken Line creates a remarkable portrait of power, revenge and corruption, rooted in a vivid and unmistakably Australian setting.

The violence of the past casts a long shadow - a dark legacy with lethal consequences. When defence lawyer Will Harris is attacked by masked men with a clear message to back off, he has no choice but to listen. If only he knew what they were talking about.

Under siege as his fledgling law firm struggles to get off the ground, Will agrees to defend the troubled son of a family friend. But the case is far from clear-cut, and the ethical boundaries murky. Instead of clawing his way out of trouble, Will finds he's sinking ever deeper. At the same time, his search for his attackers unearths an unexpected source that points him towards Melbourne's corridors of power.

But motives, let alone proofs, are hard to find. It is only when those close to him are threatened that Will realises how near he is to the deadly truth.

Praise for Blood Witness Shortlisted for the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel:

'A slick, fast-paced legal thriller set in Melbourne but with a genuine international flavour and with enough twists to surprise even the most avid fans of the genre.' West Australian 'Fast-paced and gripping.' Courier-Mail
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The Truth and Other Lies

The Truth and Other Lies

Sascha Arango ,  Imogen Taylor (Trans.)

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sascha Arango has had great fun with this tale of a famous author with secrets and a wandering (well,... absent) moral centre.

The wicked chain of events are told in an impressively precise manner (and bravo to the translator) - every sentence a stronghold. For anyone who enjoys a darkly humorous tone in the vein of Fargo, with a dash of Crime and Punishment, this is a superb entertainment.

Craig Kirchner

p.s. my imagination had (a younger) Michael Gambon playing the role of the author Henry Hayden - a wonderful performance combining the congenial and the conniving. Not surprisingly the film rights have already been nabbed - I await with interest to see who gets to inhabit devious Henry.

-----

WINNER Prix Européen du Polar du Point, France, 2015
A dark, clever and hugely entertaining thriller introducing sociopath Henry Hayden, for fans of Tom Ripley and Herman Koch's The Dinner.

Famous author, loving husband, generous friend—Henry Hayden is a pleasant person to have around. Or so it seems. And when his mistress, who is also his editor, becomes pregnant, his carefully constructed life threatens to fall apart.

So Henry works out an ingenious plan. Craftily and cold-bloodedly, he intertwines lies and truths and all the shades of grey in-between.

But when he tries to get rid of his mistress, Henry makes a terrible mistake. Not only are the police soon after him, but his past, which he has painstakingly kept under the carpet, also threatens to catch up with him with deadly consequences.

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Insurrection

Insurrection

Bruce Honeywill

$25.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Who is Brewster? First name unknown (to the reader at least) Brewster appears before us a dishevelled wreck, a man who has lost his way following the death of his wife to illness. He is thrown a lifeline by a colleague and so begins his journey back to normality.

But the legal investigator's first engagement is a tinder box and the thriller unfolds as forces marshal that a fragile Brewster struggles to handle.

Honeywill's Brewster is an interesting character - he loves a laksa and through his somewhat-jaded senses we see, smell and hear Darwin and surrounds and take in the texture of the indigenous culture. I see strong casting contenders for a screen adaptation in Brendan Cowell, Hugo Weaving, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Roxburgh - all of whom wear 'hangover' convincingly as their default demeanour.

Another interesting character is former military officer Sam Hurtle (casting: Bruce Carter?) who, returning from tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, finds himself a fish-out-of-water in his own home town until a community leader proffers a way in which his specific leadership and combat skills can help their cause.

The dialogue is as spare and dry as Darwin is humid and Honeywill's thriller deftly weaves the storyline strands, action and character development such that you will urgently be wanting the next book in the series.

Craig Kirchner

-----

A powerful and universal story of the tragedy when traditional cultures meet the might of the mining industry.

In the remote north of Australia's 'outback' an indigenous community feel powerless to stop the destruction of a sacred site by a mining giant. As a legal investigator Brewster has been defending the poor and marginalised for years and when he realises that the mine has been approved through a corrupt process, he challenges the legality in court.

But the return to the community of an SAS soldier sees the people take the law into their own hands, forming an armed militia and taking over the mine. In doing so, they bring about the full might of Australia's anti-terrorist strike forces. Brewster is the meat in the sandwich, standing between anti-terrorist forces and a mine under siege. Can he stop the bloodshed?

Bruce Honeywill's explosive thriller tells of making a stand for truth against national anti-terrorism forces and corrupt mining practices.

Insurrection by Bruce Honeywill at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, friendship and other circus acts

The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, friendship and other circus acts

David Carlin

$29.99  $4.00
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Sosina Wogayehu is really something. She has 'chutzpah' or 'spunk' or whatever you call it when you get busy when the odds are stacked against you. It is part of the reason she approached her friend (and author) David Carlin to write her story. Sosina is originally from Ethiopia and she met David (originally from Perth) when they both worked at Circus Oz, he in management and she under the bright lights. But this is way down the track. David begins with the 8-year-old selling cigarettes one by one on the streets of Addis Ababa.

What is different is that David's journey into the life of his Ethiopian friend is part of the story too, and the way it is told gives the book the feeling of being a novel - a wonderful tale full of happenings and characters that give us insights into larger themes around our cultures. Comedy and tragedy are all contained within these pages.

David's frankness and Sosina's front-foot approach to life make for a rich story of cross-cultural bonding. This was a joyous, heartwarming story to read.

Craig Kirchner

-----

Sosina Wogayehu learnt to do flips and splits at the age of six, sitting on the floor of her parents' lounge room in Addis Ababa, watching a German variety show on the only television channel in the land. She sold cigarettes on the streets at the age of eight, and played table soccer with her friends who made money from washing cars, barefoot in the dust. She dreamed of being a circus performer. 

Twenty-five years later, Sosina has conjured herself a new life in a far-off country: Australia. She has rescued one brother and lost another. She has travelled the world as a professional contortionist. She can bounce-juggle eight balls on a block of marble.  

Sosina is able to juggle worlds and stories, too, and by luck - which is something Sosina is not short of - she has a friend, David Carlin, who is a writer. Following his acclaimed memoir Our Father Who Wasn't There, David brings us his 'not-me' book, travelling to Addis Ababa where he discovers ways of living so different to his own and confronts his Western fantasies and fears.
  
Through Sosina's story he shows us that, with risk and enough momentum, life - whom we befriend, where we end up, how we come to see ourselves - is never predictable.

The Abyssinian Contortionist: Hope, Friendship and Other Circus Acts by David Carlin at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

Christopher Clark (St Catherine'S College, University of Cambridge)

$27.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Clark's book is in-depth yet very approachable, getting into the personalities and geo-political positions that lay behind the decisions that were made, such as England's decision to enter the war. Each nation had its hawks and doves and the threads of events need to be carefully unpicked.

As you make your way through the book, each reader will weight the actions and attitudes of the key players differently. I came away with the observations that Russia's provocative mobilisation was perhaps the single most important flashpoint. Taken as being a declaration of war, it was a point of no return, provoking a matching response from Germany. The other observation that comes out strongly is the absolute disaster of issuing ultimatums when it comes to diplomatic relations, of which both Austria and Germany were prone to do.

A captivating and thorough background to the monumental tragedy of this war for anyone really wanting to understand how sane people could take the actions they did, and essential reading for anyone with an eye on current geo-political developments. Craig Kirchner

 
The pacy, sensitive and formidably argued history of the causes of the First World War, from acclaimed historian and author Christopher Clark. The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era.

An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilisation. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination?

In The Sleepwalkers Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Above all, it shows how the failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans would drag Europe into catastrophe.
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Murder in Mississippi

Murder in Mississippi

John Safran

$22.99
NED KELLY AWARD WINNER 2014 TRUE CRIME

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It's probably safe to say that John Safran's approach to true crime writing is very different. His style recreates his documentary approach so vividly that I 'see' John leaning in to frame as he explains what has just occurred. Or gripping his hand-held video recorder as he does a 'selfie' to camera. The writing is engaging, with many amusing turns of phrase that paint an interesting picture of what it's like being a 'newbie' sleuth in action.

It's also a really tightly structured book, cleverly revealing more details along the way, making it compulsive to read. I found my own assessments of the key people getting tangled at times. That is a big part of this book - different versions and opinions can leave you perplexed as to what the real truth is. Is there an objective truth? How deep do you want to go? Philosophy rears its ugly head. At one point John expresses this struggle: 'In Mississippi, the more layers of the onion I peel, the more I'm standing in a mess of onion.'
 
Those who might condemn Safran for his tactics and modus operandi cannot fault his heart. He has followed his ingrained fascination with those who seek to vilify and categorise humans with a zeal that befits the most ardent white supremacist or religious zealot:

"I've been on a piece of elastic my whole life, being drawn closer and closer, to this meeting in this forest today. There is no one in the world - not one of the seven billion - who would appreciate this bizarre scene more than me."

Craig Kirchner
 
When filming his TV series, Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists, Richard Barrett. A year later, he heard that Barrett had been murdered, and what was more, the killer was black.

At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime?

Seeing his 'Truman Capote moment', he jumped on a plane from Melbourne to Mississippi to cover the trial. Over the next six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.

Murder in Mississippi is a brilliantly innovative true-crime story. Taking us places only he can, Safran paints an engrossing, revealing portrait of a dead man, his murderer, the place they lived and the process of trying to find out the truth about anything.

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Demokrasi: Indonesia In The 21St Century

Demokrasi: Indonesia In The 21St Century

Hamish McDonald

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Like many Australians, my knowledge of Indonesia was next to nil. When it did cross my mind, the picture ranged from that of a mythical tropical land of exotic and mystical delights, to a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. With the recent elections in one of the largest democracies in the world, my interest was piqued with this book by Hamish McDonald, a Walkley Award-winning journalist who has a long association with Asia.

McDonald takes us on a sweep across the history of the archipelago as the ebb and flow of colonial and military power and cronyism are revealed. The structure is well thought-out as each chapter focuses on a key facet of the society or history. The 'disguised coup' from which Major-General Suharto assumed power from Sukarno is the subject of The Crocodile Hole. The embedded nature of the military within the fabric of civil, economic and political life is covered in Beyond Dwifungsi (Dual Function). Capital takes us through the development of the economy and the strained relations with non-indigenous tycoons and nepotism. Moving through history, later chapters deal with Papua (their claim for independence from Indonesia is a sore that won't heal) and the battle against pollution and environmental plundering.

The peppering of Indonesian words throughout also provides a strong sense of the culture. We learn of 'preman' (gangster-thug-enforcers for hire) and 'cukong' (roughly meaning 'boss' but which evolved to also imply a Chinese businessman who had thrived under military patronage).

All-in-all we get a strong picture of emergence. Indonesia is on the rise but it is certainly not a straight line. Key reforms in education, welfare, anti-corruption and democracy run alongside brutal suppressions and corruption. The pattern identified by McDonald is of good intentions, policy and reforms at the top level being watered down or simply ignored by entrenched corruption and poor administration, combined with inadequate resources for enforcement.

The dust is still settling on the Presidential election and it appears that the triumph of Joko Widodo is a lucky escape for the nation, with his defeat of the Suharto-era former general Prabowo Subianto representing a further break from the military regimes of the past.

Craig Kirchner

-----

Indonesia, a nation of thousands of islands and almost 250 million people, straddles the junction of the Pacific and Indian oceans. The world's biggest Muslim nation has long been one of Australia's important strategic partners, and the relationship has become closer - if occasionally fraught - under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

As Indonesia undertakes its 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections, its future direction is open. It is a force in the world - but for what? Award-winning Asia-Pacific journalist Hamish McDonald's Demokrasi is an accessible and authoritative introduction to the modern history and politics of this fascinating country.

demokrasi by Hamish McDonald at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Breakfast with the Borgias

Breakfast with the Borgias

DBC Pierre

$25.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- DBC Pierre has grabbed this tribute challenge with gusto, tapping into the sense of unease and mystery, the 'all is not as it seems' hallmark of Hammer Horror. The result is a very British parlour 'play' - a novel set out in three Acts.

The book caught my attention because of the use of very real scientific ideas to explore some long-held horror tropes. Pierre brings up quantum physics, in particular the curious phenomenon of 'entanglement' wherein two sub-atomic particles can exchange information, becoming entangled, and 'later in our time' impart that information in a manner that seemingly disregards Einstein's maxim that nothing can exceed the speed of light. To that Pierre adds Everett's 'Many Worlds' explanation of the quantum, as he takes Polish-American applied scientist, Ariel Panek, into a situation where the mathematician's models and algorithms of reality increasingly come under challenge.

"Enough of this boffin bluster!" I hear you say, "I just want a scary story." Spooky is most definitely in the air, though without rivers of Hollywood blood-lust. And relax, it's not heavy on the science.

Other elements wrapped into this tale are our relationship to, and reliance on technology for connectedness and also, like any author worth their salt, a good measure of psychological observation as to why we humans behave the way we do.

Very entertaining and best enjoyed in one sitting (or a close approximation). Craig Kirchner
------

DBC Pierre plays with the notions of time and space in this chilling, page-turning Hammer novella by the Booker-Prize-winning author of Vernon God Little.

The setting: a faded, lonely guesthouse on the Essex coast. Outside, it's dark, and very foggy. Inside there's no phone or internet reception, no connection with the outside world.

Enter Ariel Panek, a promising young academic en route from the USA to an important convention in Amsterdam. With his plane grounded by fog at Stanstead, he has been booked in for the night at the guesthouse. 

Discombobulated and jetlagged, he falls in with a family who appear to be commemorating an event. But this is no ordinary celebration. And this is no ordinary family. As evening becomes night, Panek realises that he has become caught in an insidious web of other people's secrets and lies, a Sartrian hell from which for him there may be no escape.

Breakfast with the Borgias by DBC Pierre at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Killing Adonis

Killing Adonis

J M Donellan

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- With a whole lot of mystery and some grisly business, this quirky, brisk and very enjoyable novel also riffs on a lot of modern life along the way. At one point the mood even verges on horror. Yet all of these mysterious happenings are carried along over a comic undertone.

This comic aspect comes through with the characters being drawn large and in high relief and the rapid-fire, pithy banter which sets the pace. Donellan's style is very self-aware and knowing, mugging to the camera and sashaying confidently towards the reader.

The mystery even taunted me from the cover. What was that ill-defined black image on the cover? And why is this very modern story styled in this rustic 'olde worlde' faux-leatherbound look? (beautifully done by the way) All is revealed...

More importantly, it was a book I found myself ravenously seeking out in any free moment, eager to chase the mystery. It's been some time since I've felt the addiction of such a 'page-turner'. Craig Kirchner

-----

LIGHT DUTIES
LARGE PAY
NO QUESTIONS ASKED
...OR ANSWERED

Freya is a fiesty, flame-headed nurse who has finished her studies and who has had a Florence Nightingale influenced dream from childhood of heading to East Timor to continue her work. But for now, she needs a break - a 'cakewalk' job.

After seeing a curious flyer, Freya takes a job caring for Elijah, the comatose adult son of the eccentric Vincetti family, billionaire owners of the Halcyon Corporation. She very quickly discovers that the labyrinthine Vincetti mansion hides a wealth of secrets, their corporate rivals have a nasty habit of being extravagantly executed, and Elijah is not the saint they portray him to be. And there’s something very strange about the story that Elijah’s brother Jack is writing …

A tragicomic tale about love, delusion and corporate greed.

Killing Adonis by J M Donellan at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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Autobiography

Autobiography

Morrissey

$19.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- For any Morrissey fan, this is a joy to read for the language alone. Steven Patrick Morrissey does most definitely enjoy and employ a poetic turn of phrase and indulge his passion for alliterative word play. The effect is such that you could just about take any passage from the book and, in your best Moz impersonation, sing it aloud (yes, of course I did this). More importantly it was a page turner which, for a big book with small print and no chapters(!), is a good thing.

My fandom is always focused on the art alone which in Morrissey's case is his unique vocal delivery so perfectly matched to his extraordinary lyrics. That meant I really knew nothing of Morrissey apart from the fact he came from Manchester. The first part, telling of early family life, school and the streets of Manchester, read very much like a Dickens novel - full of grim menace and florid characters. Striking observations paint the mood, such as the appearance of any man at the door being taken as a sign of danger.

We move through early music influences and the emergence of his own desire to create, and throughout the book there are instances of Moz's own fanboy impulses, nearly always and not surprisingly deflating experiences.

The Smiths. Here the battle begins. Morrissey's early artistic life seems almost entirely full of incompetence - that of label executives, managers, and also his own and Johnny Marr's. Everyone bumbles along. The young artist is easy prey. The invective is ripe.

When the book arrives at the legal battle that was to destroy The Smiths, the scar is a chasm. The bile that Morrissey spews onto the judge is infectious and I feel the rage, although I'm aware that I'm only getting one side of the story. Mike Joyce's name is mud and the possibility of a Smiths reunion seems laughable in the extreme.

The book then moves on to life post-Smiths and a gradual emergence and point-scoring against a perceived perennial snubbing by England's music press, and a succession of world tour love-ins where he finally receives the accolades and adoration he craves. I had noticed, with minor annoyance, the US spelling throughout the book. Odd for an autobiography from a person from the UK published by a UK imprint, but not so odd when we appreciate the world-wide nature of his fan-base and in particular that of the US.

Is Morrissey difficult? I guess so, but that is probably the prerogative of an artist trying to pull something out of the morass of mediocrity.

Is Morrissey happy? I guess so. Laughter is not something that features in the book and it would seem, in his life generally. If it was, could he have written the lyrics he does? Morrissey writes his life in his songs. He notes a memorable exchange with a producer who asked "Do you ever get tired of singing 'I,I,I,I,I,I,I'?" to which Morrissey replies with dripping derision, "I?".

Craig Kirchner

p.s. Sitting alongside Morrissey's glorious hardback edition (full of interesting colour pics not included in the Penguin Black Classic edition) I spy a book titled Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy. On the cover, at the bottom, is a quote by Geoff Travis, who was head of The Smiths' label, Rough Trade. Of Cowboys and Indies Travis says "If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good." It makes me smile to think of Morrissey's response.

Autobiography by Morrissey at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Ask

The Ask

Sam Lipsyte

$29.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK
This book really grew on me. The style has that very American fast-talking, leftfield-kooky-cleverness, by which I mean, no-one ever really talks like this, or perhaps they do somewhere in a niche pocket of New York. I'm just glad I'm not involved in these conversations.

So it took me a while to relax into. Gradually, some well-crafted observations gave it heart and I came to be fully on Milo's side, wanting things to work out for him. He's a nice guy just trying to keep things moving along on an even keel, grounded and real. But he's surrounded by some quirky types and battling a class-war with his rich friend from college days and his world view is being seriously challenged. Good stuff.

Craig Kirchner

-----

When Milo Burke, a balding, slope-bellied 'donations' officer at a minor New York university, has a disastrous run-in with a rich undergraduate, he winds up on the unemployed scrap heap. Grasping at odd jobs to support his wife and young son, he's offered one last chance: he must reel in a potential donor - a major 'Ask' - who, mysteriously, has requested his involvement.

It turns out that the 'Ask' is Milo's sinister college buddy Purdy Stuart, and the 'give' won't come cheap. Before long Milo finds himself serving as a queasy mix of factotum, bagman, client state and sounding board to Purdy, who assigns him the task of delivering hush money to his secret illegitimate son, a legless and spectacularly embittered Iraq War veteran.

Can Milo win back his job, reclaim his manhood and do justice to his marriage, or is he destined to chug down the gurgler, becoming yet another sad statistic of modern-day America?
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Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

$27.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Antifragile focuses on how to deal with uncertainty and even benefit from volatility. Taleb calls this being antifragile, meaning more than simply being robust or resilient, because you not only withstand change and setbacks but you grow and benefit from them. The idea is not to guess or even understand what the future might bring but instead look for options that have upside but little downside. Large benefits and benign harm. He is very much on the side of doing rather than thinking and advocates the notion of tinkering, or the 'fail fast, fail small' way of doing things. The trial and error of things with reversible or benign mistakes, but with large potential upside - these are the options to look for.
 
Taleb's provocative style make this book move along - it is not a dry read. Moreover, it is a broad philosophical approach to many parts of our lives. Taleb combines the wisdom of the ancients with what he sees as 'real knowledge', learned on the streets in 'the school of hard knocks'. Some of the most engaging sections are where he uses a street-savvy character called Fat Tony when illustrating the difference between what you need to know and what 'suckers' think they know. Taleb is full of disdain for economists and the predictions business, feels concerned for fragile university-trained bureaucrats and takes a dim view of Theory, over-intellectualising and confusion caused by too much data. This makes him confronting for some and entertaining for others.
 
I invite you to test your world-view for its antifragility by spending some time with Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Fat Tony. Craig Kirchner

-----

In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. Here Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better. Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls antifragile are things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. What's more, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events.

Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call  efficient  is not efficient at all? Why should you write your resignation letter before starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world. Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb's message is revolutionary: the antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge and has led three careers around this focus, as a businessman-trader, a philosophical essayist, and an academic researcher. Although he now spends most of his time working in intense seclusion in his study, in the manner of independent scholars, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is decision making under opacity, that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don't understand. His books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan have been published in thirty-three languages. Taleb believes that prizes, honorary degrees, awards, and ceremonialism debase knowledge by turning it into a spectator sport.
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An Elegant Young Man

An Elegant Young Man

Luke Carman

$19.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Luke Carman's first novel is like a russian doll. You open it and inside you find another Luke Carman. This is fiction, or perhaps 'faction' - fiction based around things that may or may not have happened. "Write what you know" they say and Luke has written this episodic, slice of life, from the viewpoint of a young man named Luke Carman growing up in Sydney's hot and dusty western suburbs – an 'elegant' young man in the making, impressionable and impressed upon by family, friends and other randoms (as my niece might express it).

Those familiar with the streets, parks and landmarks of the west will nod and smile knowingly as they appear in the narrative. The writing is quite cinematic and the episodes would translate well to a good Sunday arvo film. It's a diverse excursion. Luke gets a gun at his temple, we go wrestling with Luke and even Christopher Hitchens makes an (unrelated) appearance. It's definitely one to read again after a short break.

When Luke called by Abbey's, I expressed my wish that he expand to longer novels (this is a short novel). He was very non-committal, saying he is quite enamoured of the short format. But hopefully I have planted the seed…

Craig Kirchner

-----

For a long time Western Sydney has been the political flash-point of the nation, but it has been absent from Australian literature. Luke Carman’s first book of fiction is about to change all that: a collection of monologues and stories which tells it how it is on Australia’s cultural frontier. His young, self-conscious but determined hero navigates his way through the complications of his divorced family, and an often perilous social world, with its Fobs, Lebbos, Greek, Serbs, Grubby Boys and scumbag Aussies, friends and enemies. He loves Whitman and Kerouac, Leonard Cohen and Henry Rollins, is awkward with girls, and has an imaginary friend called Tom. His sensitivity in a tough environment makes life difficult for him – he is anything but an elegant young man. Carman’s style is packed with thought and energy: it captures the voices of the street, and conveys fear and anger, beauty and affection, with a restless intensity.

ABOUT LUKE
Luke Carman self-identifies as an anti-folk monologist working in epi-grammatical short fiction. He hails from the Sydney suburb of Liverpool and his work has haunted the journals HEAT, Westside and Cultural Studies Review.

An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
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The Tribe

The Tribe

Michael Mohammed Ahmad

$19.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The Tribe is a rich look into family life - crowded, close-living family life. And whilst this family is Muslim, the tensions and family interactions portrayed reveal how families of all creeds and colours have more in common than immediate cultural differences might suggest. Craig Kirchner

For the last two decades the representation of Arab-Australian Muslims has been coloured by media reports of sexual assault, drug-dealing, drive-by shootings and terrorist conspiracy. This has made it difficult to understand a community which plays an important role in contemporary Australian society.

Here, in his first work of fiction, Michael Mohammed Ahmad offers a privileged introduction to the life and customs of ‘The Tribe’, members of a small Muslim sect who fled to Australia just before the civil war in Lebanon. His stories focus on the relationships between three generations of an extended family, the House of Adam, as seen by one of its youngest offspring, a child called Bani, at key moments in its development.

The first part describes the family house in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria, and the three generations who live, often in some discord, in its rooms; the second details the marriage of a cousin, and the threatened appearance of an estranged branch of the family at the ceremony; the third rounds off the cycle with the death of the family matriarch, the boy's grandmother. Together they offer an intimate insight into a community negotiating the conflict between tradition and modernity, and the complex tribal affiliations of the extended family.

Ahmad’s writing is aware of tradition, but its real power is in its simplicity and honesty, and the directness with which he conveys the emotional responses of his young narrator.
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On The Road: Popular Penguins

On The Road: Popular Penguins

Jack Kerouac

$12.99
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- On the Road, written in 1951, has an energy that captures the exuberance and freedom of the road trip and the adventure and wild times to be had as a young person 'on the road' and it is this aspect of the book which has generated the book's cult following. At the book's core is Dean Moriarty, a free spirited, good-time practitioner and Sal Paradise, his sidekick-enabler and also the book's chronicler of events. As incidents unfold however a broad arc emerges; that of Dean Moriarty's rise as the wild party messiah, in search of 'IT' and 'knowing time', and his eventual descent into madness and the chaos and impact on those around him.

Despite this sad and somewhat darker overtone, the exuberance is infectious and is the reason this story remains a classic. Reading this, I was infused with an excitement for life and for a while the streets of Sydney seemed to throb with energy. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Craig Kirchner

-----

Jack Kerouac's On the Road rocked the establishment with its seminal, stream-of-consciousness portrayal of 1950s underground America. Amidst a whirlwind of sex, drugs and jazz, writer Sal Paradise and his hero 'the holy conman with the shining mind', Dean Moriarty traverse the country in search of life and experience. Wild and exuberant, this life-changing novel defined the Beat generation and inspired countless others.
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Catch-22

Catch-22

Joseph Heller ,  Howard Jacobson

$14.99
ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— It is 50 years since Joseph Heller’s wonderful creation first appeared. My first encounter was as a young backpacker in Liechtenstein. Entering the hostel dorm, a young German was lying on his bunk with escalating outbursts of laughter. When curiosity finally overwhelmed me I asked what on earth he was reading.

Catch 22 is like no other book you will ever read. The narrative tumbles out, eddies and circles back, piling absurdity upon nonsense until your want for sense and order surrenders. Give yourself over to Heller’s anarchic playfulness and you will be richly rewarded with a story about the enterprise of war that is both tragic and comic. Craig Kirchner

——
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HOWARD JACOBSON
Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never even met keep trying to kill him. Joseph Heller's bestselling novel is a hilarious and tragic satire on military madness, and the tale of one man's efforts to survive it.
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Passion Play: The Oberammergau tales

Passion Play: The Oberammergau tales

Valerie Volk

$29.95
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ---- Having enjoyed this myself, I gave this to my Mum to read and from there it made its way into her book group. The response was extremely positive. The novel uses an interesting approach to telling us the hidden stories behind peoples lives. A group of people are on an organised holiday trip to Oberammergau. A writer making the trip for her own reasons seeks out stories as to why these people are making this pilgrimage to see this famous religious play. Written in elegant verse from each person's perspective it is a clever and impressive novel, with very touching probes into our emotions. Craig Kirchner
 
-----
 
 
I am indeed a part of all those I have met, and must learn who I am.

A politician, a cooking contest winner, a troubled clergyman, a much-married socialite, a TV evangelist - what could they have in common? Why do they (and half a million others) travel to Oberammergau, the small German village that has staged a Passion Play every tenth year since 1634?

In a four-day bus trip, very different people are drawn together for diverse reasons, similar to the varied group whom Chaucer brought to life in his Canterbury Tales. But these travellers do not tell invented stories to entertain each other; they reveal to us with raw and often painful honesty their own lives and motives.

'A riveting read as the travellers tell their stories, with no shortage of the seven deadly sins.' - Professor Doreen Rosenthal

'These modern pilgrims to a medieval town are driven ...by individualised guilt stemming from their own personal histories. In these pilgrims we are constantly reminded of the 3Ls: life, love, and loss.' - Bruce Dawe

'As with Chaucer, all human life is here, as we live it now, and have done throughout our history.'  - Jenny Gribble

'Volk's swerve away from Chaucer creates for us a linking group of tourists, animated by their approach to a religious festival in Europe. Their story-telling, in her fluent verse, is utterly persuasive.' - Chris Wallace-Crabbe
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