Booktopia - Australia's local bookstore

Pile by the Bed reviews The Partisan by Patrick Worrall - a debut Cold War thriller with chess at its centre and roots back to World War 2.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley, historical fiction set in the 1960s and based on the true story of a Soviet radiation research facility.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Ordinary Monsters (The Talents #1) by JM Miro - a tense Victorian-era fantasy involving children with powers and an existential threat to the world.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Wrong Woman by JP Pomare, a well placed, well plotted twisty stand-alone thriller.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh, the seventh in his consistently enjoyable Eddie Flynn conman-turned-lawyer series .

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Pile by the Bed reviews May God Forgive by Alan Parks, the fifth book is in his gritty Harry McCoy series set in 1970s Glasgow.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a reimnagining of the HG Wells classic set in 19th Century Mexico.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Upgrade by Blake Crouch a fast paced thriller that takes on issues of genetic engineering, the responsibities of power and climate change.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Enclave by Claire G Coleman, a dystopian thriler in which a young woman learns there is more to the world than her strictly controlled walled community.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill - an amatuer sleuth mystery wrapped in a metatextual exploration of crime fiction.

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Pile by the Bed reviews With a Mind to Kill, the third Ian Fleming-style James Bond thriller by Anthony Horowitz, this one set late in the famour agent's career.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Stone Town by Margaret Hickey - Australain crime fiction set in rural South Australia and follow up to her debut Cutter's End.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Diplomat by Chris Womersley, a character study of a recovering addict dealing with the ghosts of his past and follow up to his 2013 novel Cairo.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers a story which reimagines the story of the men behind a series of complex British crop circles that appeared in the late 1980s.

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Pile by the Bed reviews All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami - a deep character piece that explores a woman seeking connection in modern Japan.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Cove by Alice Clark-Platts - an taut and effective domestic thriller set in a remote Malaysian resort.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Martyr, the second book in Anthony Ryan's Covenant of Steel trilogy which provides a propulsive set up for the final volume.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Goodbye Coast in which Joe Ide reinvents classic hard boiled detective Philip Marlowe in present day Los Angeles.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Lying Beside you by Michael Robotham the third book in his outstanding Cyrus Haven / Evie Cormack crime series

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Pile by the Bed reviews Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister a crime novel with a time travel twist as a mother drifts back in time, reliving key moments in her life to try and discover why her son might have committed a crime.

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Ten Days by Gillian Slovo
Crime , Review , Thriller / 01/04/2016

Gillian Slovo’s Ten Days started life as a play that explored the London riots of 2011. The play itself was based on a series of interviews and transcripts. The novel follows the outline of these events but ficitionalises them, which gives Slovo a broader scope than that original piece and some licence with her exploration of character and motivation. But it still centres around a week of intense heat in which the disaffected and dis...

The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Crime , Review , Thriller / 30/03/2016

Good thrillers often stand or fall by their initial concept. Think the missing wife and the diary of Gone Girl. Or the woman with amnesia and a journal in Before I Go To Sleep. A simple, possibly plausible, plot driver that is able to twist and flex as the circumstances change. In The Trap, that concept is the reclusive novelist, seeking revenge for the murder of her sister eleven years before.Because she cannot bring herself to leav...

Illuminae by Kaufman and Kristoff

Illuminae states its intention right from the cover, which is covered in scraps of partially redacted documents. The book itself is told through a series of recovered documents of varying types, many flagged with introductory comments. The form of narrative has been done before and it is worth saying at the outset that Kaufman and Kristoff do it very well. Despite lots of goriness and evil goings on, all swear words are redacted to k...

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

A long line of science fiction classics, including Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Arthur C Clark’s Moondust, through to more modern writers like Ben Bova (Moonrise and Moonwar) have focussed on life on a settled or developed Moon.  In Luna: New Moon, Ian McDonald brings his hardscrabble, developing-world sci-fi sensibility to the Moon to dazzling effect. As could be expected after books like River of Gods and Brasyl, McD...

Welcome to Night Vale by Fink and Cranor

The extremely strange town of Night Vale will be familiar to listeners to the popular podcast which has been going since 2012. For those who have never heard about the town of Night Vale – which is ruled over by a glow cloud (all hail the mighty glow cloud), where the most dangerous place is the library, it is subversive to believe in mountains, the most popular dish at the diner is invisible pie and where the police have been ...

Steeple by Jon Wallace

Jon Wallace’s debut novel, Barricade was a blistering, visceral ride through a post-robopocalyptic Britain. It dropped readers into a nuclear blasted landscape and an ongoing war between the ravaged, disease-ridden survivors of humanity (the Reals) and their implacable, seemingly indestructible android foes (the Ficials). Barricade’s protagonist, a Ficial called Kenstibec, emotionless and virtually indestructible, was the perfect gui...

The Silent Inheritance by Joy Dettman
Crime , Review / 14/03/2016

Joy Dettman delves into a world of crime in her latest novel. Over a wide cast of characters she manages to fit in a whole spectrum of crime and general meanness into a small space: from a serial killer through to a hit and run, perjury and drug dealing. The Silent Inheritance ranges across a large group of characters so it takes a while to get going. Sarah Carter, deaf since birth, is trying to get a promotion but is passed over for...

Fever City by Tim Baker
Crime , Historical , Review / 10/03/2016

There is nothing more certain than death, taxes and books about the assassination of JFK. This event had everything – sex, drugs, mafia, movie stars, the FBI, the CIA, communists. And to top it all off, as Tim Baker does not hesitate to point out in Fever City, it was an event that changed the course of America and world history. The shooting of JFK  has always been the motherload for conspiracy theorists but also for crime writers. ...

Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn
Fantasy , Review / 06/03/2016

Lian Hearn returns to her best-selling faux-Japanese fantasy world in a new four book series being published in Australia in two volumes. Set three hundred years before her Tales of the Otori, The Tale of Shikanoko is pure sword and sorcery fantasy with a Japanese twist. As with her Otori series, the setting is not Japan, or even a Japanese version of ancient Japan, but it is a Japan-like world heavily based on the myths, legends and...

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore
Crime , Recommended , Review , Thriller / 06/03/2016

Many crime novels straddle the line between crime and horror. Serial killers, on the whole, are the stuff of nightmares and crime writers have been falling over themselves for some time to up the gore factor. While horror novels usually rely on some form of supernatural agency and do not necessarily have the neat resolution of the crime genre, the bloody results are often the same. And so it is with The Poison Artist – a crime novel ...

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
Literature , Recommended , Review / 06/03/2016

It is easy to compare any novel narrated by a disaffected American teenager with the seminal Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield has become the archetypical American teen – intelligent, insightful and with plenty of promise but constantly fighting against a system which seeks to pigeon hole and repress. Lucia, the eighteen year-old narrator of How to Set a Fire and Why, fits into this mould but this is a very different tale and a ve...

Down Station by Simon Morden
Fantasy , Review / 06/03/2016

Doorways into magical lands are a venerable fantasy tradition going back centuries in English fiction. Think Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan. In the Twentieth Century we had the seminal Narnia series and plenty of imitators followed. More recently we’ve even seen a modern deconstruction of that mythology in books like Lev Grossman’s Magician’s series. In this context, Simon Morden’s Down Station seems a little staid. The central ide...

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

The sinking of the Titanic, now over one hundred years ago, is still one of the most famous disasters in history. So it is no wonder that it has been the subject of countless books and films. Given this, the question has to be whether there is the appetite for yet another novel exploring this incident. The answer, strongly given by David Dyer in his debut The Midnight Watch, is an unqualified yes. The Midnight Watch is not primarily ...

Fall by Candice Fox
Crime , Recommended / 23/01/2016

  Eden Archer, Australia’s answer to Dexter Morgan, and her damaged partner Frank Bennett are back at work in Fall, investigating a series of murders of women joggers. Underlying this investigation is another one by Frank’s lover (and former psychologist) Imogen, who solves cold cases in her spare time and is closing in on Eden’s true identity. There is plenty else going on in Fall, with Eden’s ex-crimelord father Hades having a...

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt
Fantasy , Literature , Review / 05/01/2016

Patrick deWitt has gone into fractured fairytale territory in his latest novel. Undermajordomo Minor, set somewhere in Europe, sometime in the nineteenth century comes complete with castles, dukes, battles, pickpockets, chambermaids and the titular majordomo. Lucien “Lucy” Minor needs to leave home. He lands himself a job as assistant to Olderclough, the majordomo  of the Castle von Aux. On arrival, Lucy finds that Olderclough’s prev...