Tag Archives: Allen and Unwin


From the author of Josephine’s Garden, this is a rather complicated but stirring tale set in the early 1800’s when Napoleon ruled .This is Stephanie Parkyn’s third historical novel .It is of medium size and thickness and divided into thirty nine chapters.

The detailed ,extensive research is amazing , the characterisation excellent – all is vividly written and presented . It is about the preservation of oral history , books, of theatre , of love and friendship and the search for identity and a place to call home. There is also sacrifice , grief , denial and betrayal.

The title comes from Saskia’s wish to be free and how she wants to turn into a Vela (a bird) . It is also a quest for personal identity as the three main characters have all lost their parents – or so they think. The horrors of war are depicted in a fractured, precarious world.
We jump from Paris to Venice and Austria. The book tells the story of Remi Victoire , a star among the company of theatre orphans he lives with , under the direction of Gianni Constantini at the Comedie-Italiene,and he dreams of a career on the stage in Paris. The orphans who were all part of Constantini’s company, behind the scenes with costumes etc or on stage, were all abandoned children of women of the theatre, who were themselves servants of the theatre’s male patrons. Continue reading THE FREEDOM OF BIRDS BY STEPHANIE PARKYN


This latest book by Barry Maitland is extremely well crafted, written and plotted, with many surprising twists upon the way. The shifting between characters and locations is excellently handled.It is a great page turner you anxiously want to find out what happens next . The depiction of characters is splendid and there are some great landscape descriptions.

Barry Maitland grew up in London and went on to work as an architect and urban designer in the UK. In 1984 he moved to Australia as Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. The Marx Sisters, the first in his London-based Brock and Kolla crime novels, was published in 1994 and 12 more have followed. In addition he has published four crime novels set in Australia. Barry’s novels have been published throughout the English-speaking world and in translation in various other countries.

In his latest book of the series featuring Detective Chief Inspector David Brock, we enter the exclusive high stakes world of fine art – when the Russian wife of the owner of one of the most valuable private collections of modern art in the UK is found dead, and follow Brock as he uncovers forgery, murder and fraud in an international market .Brock was given the job by higher ups as allocated by the Assistant Commissioner . Nadya Babington was spectacularly beautiful, but outwardly seemingly rather cold, having escaped and divorced her first husband, Sergei Semenov, in Russia .She had just received threatening emails from Russia. Julian Babington, her husband is a major corporate lawyer. And then there is Nadya’s troubled son Miki . Brock visits dealers and galleries in London’s West end as well as Hanover, Bremen, Miami and New York with his new colleague Molly Fitzherbert from the Art and Antiques department .He also follows up tracing his own painting by Kurt Schwitters that he was gifted previously – is it real or fake ? Was Julian coercively controlling Nadya ?

There are many complicated and unexpected revelations .We learn about forgery in the high art world and conservation but also dual identities and major corruption. As well we meet the vicar (the Rev. Alwyn Bramley-Scott) of an ancient church that Nadya was linked to, and ponder if she was having an affair with one of Miki’s friends, Callum McAdam – who is a sensational copyist of famous art works (is he linked to the corruption? Why are he and Nadya so interested in the old church?) We also meet Egor Orlov (a top restaurant owner) and Pavel Gorshkov as well as Rosa Lipmann, gallery owner and various members of Brock’s and Kolla’s teams .Throughout the book there is also interwoven Brock’s relationship with has de facto wife Suzanne and her grandchildren.

Simultaneously Brock’s old colleague Detective Chief Inspector Kathy Kolla, now leading one of the Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation teams, finds herself accused of corruption by another police officer. With her entire career threatened, Kolla will do almost anything to clear her name.Was Kolla’s upmarket home in London a gift based on the proceeds of illegal shenanigans by her now dead ex Martin Connell? Or? Eventually all is cleared up .At one point both Brock and Kolla are suspended from duties , but there are many revelations and dramatic plot turns along the way .
A captivating, multi layered book.

Category:Crime & Mystery
Publisher:Allen & Unwin
Imprint:Allen & Unwin
Pub Date:November 2021
Page Extent:320
Format:Paperback – C format
Subject:Thriller / suspense



Christos Tsiolkas, the author of 7 ½ says “Art is not only about rage and justice and politics. It is also about pleasure and joy; it is also about beauty…In a time of rage and confusion, I wanted to write about beauty.”

Christos’ character says “I don’t want it (the novel the character is writing) to be about sexuality; I don’t want it to be about race; I don’t want it to be about gender. Not history, nor morality, and not about the future. All of those matters now bore me.”

Is 7 ½ a novel, a memoir, an autobiography? It is all three. The author and the protagonist  are both ‘Christo’. Christo, the character, has writer’s block. He wants to create a novel about beauty. His friend, an aging ex-porn star, tells him “You can’t write about beauty. You don’t have the talent.” Continue reading 7 ½ BY CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS : A BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED STORY


Elizabeth Von Arnim

She was ‘amused, cynical, ironic, loving, gay, ferocious, cold, ardent but never gentle’. She was a whirlwind. She created around her the atmosphere of a Court at which her friends were either in disgrace or favour, a butt or a blessing. ’She was ‘a rare and fascinating combination of dove and serpent’.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Elizabeth von Arnim, 31 August 1866 – 9 February 1941), was a hugely popular author yet today she is almost unheard of. Meticulously researched, Joyce Morgan’s biography has both a prologue and epilogue, is divided into twenty one chapters and has a bibliography and index. A selection of black and white photos is included in the middle. 

Morgan is a former arts editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. She is the author of Martin Sharp: His life and times, which was long-listed for the 2018 Stella Prize, and Journeys on the Silk Road, about the discovery of the world’s oldest printed book.Morgan has written on arts and culture for more than three decades and has worked as a journalist in London, Hong Kong and Sydney. She is a Getty arts journalism fellow and Huntington Library fellow. British-born, she has travelled widely and lives in Sydney. Morgan’s book brings Elizabeth vividly to life.   Continue reading THE COUNTESS FROM KIRRIBILLI : A NEW BIOGRAPHY BY JOYCE MORGAN


A girl who transforms into a dog, a magic puppet show with the power to change lives and a story about the mysteries of the imagination, that’s what is in store for readers of Ursula Dubosarsky’s Latest work ‘Pierre’s Not There’.

Lara had always wished she was a dog, and one day, just for a short time, she actually became one. This is how it happened.  Continue reading ‘PIERRE’S NOT THERE’ : WRITER URSULA DUBOSARSKY, ILLUSTRATOR CHRISTOPHER NIELSEN


A most thrilling, exciting adventure for all of us who are Phryne Fisher fans.

Eagerly anticipated this is the first Phryne Fisher mystery since 2013. (Not forgetting the TV series and the film Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears).  It is Greenwood’s sixty fifth book, her twenty first Phryne Fisher mystery.

Kerry Greenwood is the author of more than fifty novels, a book of short stories, six non-fiction works, and the editor of two collections of crime writing. Her beloved Phryne Fisher series has become a successful ABC TV series, ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’, which sold around the world. She is also the author of the contemporary crime series featuring Corinna Chapman, baker and reluctant investigator. The most recent Corinna Chapman novel was The Spotted Dog. Continue reading DEATH IN DAYLESFORD by KERRY GREENWOOD


This is a large-format, high production value book , written by Peter Pinne and Peter Wyllie Johnston .Lavishly illustrated with both black and white and colour photographs as well as vibrant graphic design, The Australian Musical takes an incredibly detailed , impeccably researched look at the history of the Australian musical .The first half is in eight chapters and looks at the story of the Australian musical from roughly 1901 to now.

THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL asks – what is an Australian musical and how do we define it ? Has the audience expectation over time changed ? As well as looking at the influence of Australian female composers , gay themes and Jewish influences . The flops , ( eg Rasputin ) lost/abandoned musicals and the mega hits are mentioned. Continue reading THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL : A WONDERFUL REFERENCE BOOK


Emily O’Grady is the recipient of the Australian/Vogel’s literary award 2018 for her debut crime novel – THE YELLOW HOUSE -which will have readers on the edge of their seats, and demonstrates clear and telling insights into the human condition.

The plot revolves around a rough, dysfunctional family which includes ten year old Cub, her twin brother Wally, older brother Cassie and their parents. Living on an isolated property near an unused cattle farm and knackery, they are shunned by the local community due to crimes committed by the now deceased Granddad Les who resided in the yellow house next door.

Cub’s Aunt Helena and cousin Tilly move into the yellow house. Cub, the narrator, observer and detective, discover secrets and lies which were privy to everyone except her. Once these secrets are revealed, Cub has to face the family’s haunted past, demons and the skeletons in the closet. Continue reading THE YELLOW HOUSE : A RIVETING READ


Devoured in one sitting is an exaggeration but HANGMAN is certainly an accomplished and compulsive thriller that kept my appetite to return to its banquet of kidnapping and bloody murder.
Richer than Reacher, HANGMAN’s protagonist is a literary kin to Hannibal Lecter, but without the sophistication of sourcing, saucing and sauteing. Continue reading HANGMAN: RICHER THAN REACHER


The Late Show is LAPD parlance for the night shift and it’s been appropriated as the title of Michael Connelly’s latest thriller.

Eschewing Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller his seemingly perennial serial protagonists, Connelly has created a new lead character, Renee Ballard, an Hawaiian transplant pulling the late show out of Hollywood.

THE LATE SHOW is a slow burn of a page turner, a police procedural that sees Ballard pick up a trio of cases she wants no part of but cannot bear to part with.

The first of the three appears to be a benign case of credit card theft. But it brilliantly builds the base of Ballard’s philosophical foundation of seeking justice for a victim no matter the felony, whether it’s petty theft or first degree murder. Continue reading THE LATE SHOW : MICHAEL CONNELLY’S LATEST THRILLER



It was more than a bit of a challenge when I was requested to write  a review of a book written by an eminent and esteemed critic, academic, best selling author and a person who is the Sydney Morning Herald chief book reviewer. The gentleman is Andrew Riemer, the book Between The Fish and The Mudcake.

In his book, Riemer reminiscences about well known literary figures; there are food references and destinations mentioned. It is part memoir, history lesson, political piece, travelogue and social commentary.

Between the Fish and the Mudcake begins by discussing Patrick White whom he meets at a dinner party in Sydney in 1966 and who undergoes Riemer’s astute character observations  and analysis of his personality. “We see him driven into precisely the taciturn hostility, thinly disguised beneath a veneer of politeness…” Continue reading ANDREW RIEMER : BETWEEN THE FISH AND THE MUDCAKE


Peter Corris’ latest Cliff Hardy, WIN, LOSE OR DRAW is the last Cliff Hardy.

This amounts to a win, lose and draw situation for the legion of Cliff Hardy fans.

It’s a win because it’s a neat, clean, shaved and sober story, and Corris doesn’t care who knows it. Like Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, WIN, LOSE OR DRAW begins with Cliff Hardy being hired by a lucre lousy dad, Gerard Fonteyn, to investigate the disappearance of his daughter, Juliana, a statuesque fourteen year old vanished from their Vaucluse waterfront last December. Continue reading PETER CORRIS FAREWELLS CLIFF HARDY WITH ‘WIN, LOSE OR DRAW’



Here’s the good wood on GOODWOOD. It’s good.

Holly Throsby’s debut novel, GOODWOOD, is a lyrical, rolling ballad of a small country town hit with a one/two punch of grief and of a one/two punch of burgeoning sexuality for the story’s narrator, seventeen year old, Jean Brown.

Set in 1992, the disappearance of two locals from the small town of Goodwood are harbingers of the disappearance of an era, before mandatory mobile phone use, social media and maniac serial killers burying backpackers in Belanglo.

Rosie White is the first to vanish, seemingly into thin air, followed by the burg’s butcher, Bart, believed to be boating but never returning, believed drowned, body undiscovered. Continue reading HOLLY THROSBY’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘GOODWOOD’


Not Right In The Head

Featured photo – Melbourne author and television producer Michelle Wyatt.

There’s no denying that Alzheimer’s is joked about. Even those most prone to this devastating disease, the elderly, self deprecatingly refer to to it as Oldtimer’s. It may be a way of denial that this insidious syndrome is much more formidable than mere forgetfulness.

In her forthright memoir of dealing with her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD, Michelle Wyatt admits that it’s a tough topic to write about with any kind of lightheartedness, yet she succeeds wonderfully in getting the balance right.

That balance comes from a sharing of a family headed up by the seemingly indefatigable Dad, Frank, to whom the book is dedicated. As much as Michelle and her siblings rallied to deal with their mother’s dementia, it was Dad who led the charge, a living manifestation of the marriage vow “in sickness and in health.” Continue reading NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD BY MICHELLE WYATT


Featured Pic- Author Peter Corris. Pic by Janie Barrett
Featured Pic- Author Peter Corris. Pic by Janie Barrett

As Peter Corris has admitted, he’s addicted to writing. That’s a blessing for those addicted to reading him.

It was only February last year that Allen and Unwin published his 40th Cliff Hardy book. And now the 41st, THAT EMPTY FEELING, has been published, and proves that too much Cliff Hardy is never enough.

THAT EMPTY FEELING is a reminiscence story, where the reading of a death notice conjures an old case, not exactly a cold case, but a case that never had closure.

“Barry Bartlett was what the media called ‘ a colourful Sydney identity’, which means that he was a crook who had stayed out of jail for more than twenty-five years.” Continue reading PETER CORRIS : THAT EMPTY FEELING

Myfanwy Jones’ new novel LEAP

inset pic- The cover to  Myfanwy Jones' new novel. Featured pic- A pic of the author
inset pic- The cover to Melbourne writer Myfanwy Jones’ new novel. Featured pic- A pic of the author

Want a story that leaps off the page? Leap into LEAP.

With a narrative that has all the agility, grace and momentum of parkour, Myfanwy Jones’ novel is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack in recent published fiction.

LEAP embodies and ennobles no less the great themes of love, loss, grieving and coping, in a splendid story of Joe, a young Melbourne man dream dashed and guilt bashed by the death of his beloved, Jen, and of Elise, mother of the beloved Jen, devastated by the death of her daughter and the dying of her marriage. Continue reading Myfanwy Jones’ new novel LEAP

Peter Corris: Gun Control


The fortieth book in the Cliff Hardy canon, GUN CONTROL, is sure as a sawn off shottie, powerful and compact.

Impossible to imagine the Australian crime thriller landscape without Cliff Hardy – Peter Corris’ first book, The Dying Trade, laying the foundations of a series that has matured and manifested a character that not only walks the mean streets of Sydney and environs, but makes commentary on the political and social morass of the day.

Nothing has changed! Continue reading Peter Corris: Gun Control

The Burning Room

Prolific author Michael Connelly
Brilliant American crime fiction writer Michael Connelly

Cold cases don’t come much hotter than THE BURNING ROOM, the latest Michael Connelly thriller featuring the remarkable LAPD detective, Harry Bosch.

Orlando Merced, a mariachi player, was gunned down a decade ago, but survived, albeit crippled and disfigured. The bullet could not be removed at the time of the shooting as it had lodged irretrievably in his spine.

At the beginning of the novel, Merced has eventually died, and his corpse is splayed on the medical examiners table. The bullet is finally retrieved and the verdict of the autopsy is that the Merced was murdered, taking ten years to terminate, the projectile being the prime cause of his death.

Accompanied by his new Spanish speaking partner, Lucia Soto, Bosch embarks on a fresh investigation of the incident, sifting through the silt of initial reports, fading memories, and vanished witnesses. It becomes as much an investigation into the original process as it is an inquiry of a homicide. Continue reading The Burning Room

Molly Tells, Um, His Story

The very unique Ian Molly Meldrum
The very unique and much loved Ian Molly Meldrum

Considering Molly Meldrum’s meandering and stumbling interview style, it seems a minor miracle that he lasted on Countdown for so long (thirteen years, from 1974 to 1987). Journalist Jennifer Byrne famously described Meldrum as a ‘truly awful’ interviewer. Others described Countdown as ‘the ultimate squirm tv’ (Deborah Conway). Still, he has been recognised for his contributions to Australian music over the years, from his earliest days at Go-Set rock magazine in 1966.

Though Meldrum had Jeff Jenkins help on this project, the story is told in Meldrum’s voice. It is a very funny, anecdote laden book with all of Meldrum’s most famous interviews and celebrity stoushes, though he is very quick to kiss and make up. Meldrum’s take on Elton John’s 1984 Sydney wedding to Renate Blauel? Elton simply wanted to knock Michael Jackson from the headlines. (Jackson’s hair had accidentally been set on fire while filming a Pepsi ad two weeks earlier). In an ironic twist, when Jackson toured Sydney more than a decade later he married the pregnant Deborah Rowe here. Sydney seemed, for a while at least, to be the place for the famous and sexually confused to tie the knot.                              Continue reading Molly Tells, Um, His Story

What I Love About Movies

Tarantino by I love Dust
Tarantino by I Love Dust

Fifty film luminaries are asked the question, “What do you love about the movies?” in the handsome and must have (if you love movies) tome, WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES (Faber and Faber).

From fifty famed film professionals we get a vast and varied response, although some of their thoughts are shared and the response is shadowed by the experience of the film and the venue or platform in which it is experienced.

A film is a film is a film, but how you see it can make a large difference. Before our new digital age where you can watch product on any device, it was either the cinema or television. And don’t forget the drive-in, where some films actually do play better, more favourably.

First of the rank of respondents is Francis Ford Coppola, the godhead of 70s cinema, who reckons movies are the most diverse and complete art form, that uses everything – music, emotion, images, writing and structure. “A divine collection of all human inspiration and art forms.”

And Francis speculates what kind of movies people from the past, like Goethe, would make.

Francis’ ex son in law, Spike Jonze, director of Her and Being John Malkovich among others, talks about “making something that I can just fall into. You’re just consumed with it.”

He cites the work of Michel Gondry as fitting that category.

Gondry likes the fact that you can watch a movie and then talk about a movie,– a collective dream state and perhaps a shared chair in the collective psychoanalyst’s office.

Alexander Payne, the film maker who has given us Nebraska, Sideways, About Shmidt, and other deadpan delights, declares that we are so lucky to have lived in an era where cinema exists.

“It’s a way of conquering death. You can capture somebody alive and refer to them for the rest of time….and then there’s the unconscious aspect to it; we love movies because of their relationship to dreams.”

William Friedkin, director of the classics The French Connection and The Exorcist, talks about the one ton pencil, which is, “a vast crew of people to whom you must communicate and express your ideas and the images in your mind and the way they move and combine.”

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES is dedicated to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who contributed to the book shortly before his untimely and tragic death, and makes a case for the difference between theatre and cinema, two forms in which he was so gifted in.

From Almodovar to Wasikowska, Aronofsky to Walter Murch, WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES is an engrossing, entertaining and enlightening book about this great art form of the past century.

Not only is it packed with insights from its esteemed subjects but has intriguing comments on the subjects by the contributors of Little White Lies magazine.

No book on movies would be complete without a pictorial aspect and WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES comes with a portrait of each subject, each and every one worth the purchase price of this exquisite and indispensable book for anyone who has ever pondered the question, what I love about movies?

Worth buying multiple copies – one for your library and others for the perfect film buff gift.

For more about WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MOVIES, visit http://www.littlewhitelies.co.uk/the-magazine


One of Australia’s most forthright Independent politicians in a pensive mood

Not known for towing the line, THE INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR LYNE is Rob Oakeshott’s plain titled memoir of a political career that has straddled state and federal arenas and proves a policy wonk with integrity may constantly get his arse kicked but never loses face.

It begins on polling day in the 2010 federal election when voters delivered a hung parliament and triggered seventeen days of negotiations between the Labor Party, the coalition, and four independents – Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie- the outcome of which would determine who would govern Australia for the next three years.

According to Oakeshott the wooing by Gillard and Abbott was diametrically opposed.

Continue reading ROB OAKESHOTT’S STORY


Entertainer Anh Do has an amazing story to tell in THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE
Entertainer Anh Do has an amazing story to tell in THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE

‘There are two times in life. There is now and there is too late.’

Do echoes the sentiments and philosophy of his father with whom he has conflicting emotions, and who abandoned him at a young age.

THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE is a memoir written with pathos and humour. It is also full of insight and portrays Anh’s struggles as he and his extended family flee from the turmoil of his homeland Vietnam on an overcrowded boat to pursue a better life in Australia. Do faces perils at sea from pirates to starvation.



Prolific Australian author Peter Corris is now up to his 39th Cliff Hardy book

A Cormac McCarthy quoting Cliff Hardy travels to the Top End in Peter Corris’ latest instalment, SILENT KILL (Allen & Unwin).

Initially hired as a bodyguard for a whistle blowing political aspirant, things go pear shaped after a paramedic impersonator kidnaps the aspirant’s squeeze and the nemesis nurse ends up murdered.