Category Archives: Text Publishing

Review: The Attack by Catherine Jinks

Title: The Attack by Catherine Jinks
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Robyn Ayres works as the camp caretaker on Finch Island, a former leper colony off the coast of Queensland. Her current clients are a group of ex-military men who run a tough-love program for troubled teens.

The latest crop looks like the usual mix of bad boys and sad boys. Then Robyn takes a second look at a kid called Darren. Last time she saw him his name was Aaron, and Robyn was his primary school teacher. And she was somehow at the centre of a vicious small-town custody battle involving his terrifying grandmother.

Bruising classroom dynamics, manipulative parents and carers and horrendous small-town politics form the backdrop to a nail-biting thriller in which the tensions of ten years ago start to play themselves out, building to a violent climax in the present day.

Robyn escaped the past once. Now it’s back—and this time there’s no way out.


The Attack by Catherine Jinks is a suspenseful, engrossing mystery.

In 2009, Robyn Ayers is an experienced teacher starting over in new town after a heartbreaking betrayal. She is a kindergarten teacher whose school year starts off with a bang.  A couple of her students are a bit of handful but six-year-old Aaron Rooney is troubled with a difficult home-life. Robyn does her best to adhere to school policies and maintain a professional distance but that soon becomes impossible. Aaron is destructive and wildly out of control which she believes is the result of possible abusive. Aaron’s grandmother, Joyce, is caustic, disruptive and prone to making unfounded accusations. Aaron’s mum, Krystal McCall obviously loves her son, but Robyn has trouble keeping her on topic during school meetings. The situation reaches a shocking crescendo that leaves Robyn picking up the tattered pieces of her life once again.

In 2019, Robyn is lives alone on isolated Finch Island where she takes care of the historic site that was at one time a leper colony. She spends most of her days in solitude ensuring the visitors abide by the rules. The island is also used by a group of former military men who run a boot camp for troubled and at-risk boys. This latest group’s behavior is quite challenging right from the very start. Adding to Robyn’s uneasiness is her certainty that teenager Darren King is, in fact, Aaron Rooney. When it appears someone is targeting her, Robyn at first believes Darren/Aaron is responsible. But the quiet teenager’s behavior is quite different than when he was younger and he is asking worrying questions about Krystal. Robyn does not want to probe too deeply and she has enough to worry about with the other antics that are occurring. With the boys’ “graduation” fast approaching, will Robyn finally learn the truth about what happened to Aaron ten years earlier?

The Attack is a tense mystery that seamlessly moves back and forth in time. In 2009, Robyn is a bit idealistic and ill-prepared for teaching in a small town. She quickly discovers the worst part of small-town life occurs when power falls into malevolent hands. Robyn is out of her depth right from the start and when the situation spirals out of control, she learns the hard way the town protects its own. In the 2019, Robyn is suspicious, gruff and outspoken as the boot camp gets off to a rough start. Both iterations of Robyn are likable since it is easy to understand how life has shaped her and her reactions. The well-developed storyline steadily moves toward past and present colliding as Robyn finds herself in increasing danger. With stunning plot twists, Catherine Jinks brings this brilliant novel to a breathless, edge of the seat conclusion.

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Filed under Catherine Jinks, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Text Publishing, The Attack

Review: The Long Game by Simon Rowell

Title: The Long Game by Simon Rowell
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A summer of relentless heat. A local surfer named Ray Carlson is found dead in a house not far from Portsea back beach. There’s a kitchen knife deep in his chest, and blood everywhere.

Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer is scarcely back from extended leave, and still wrestling with her demons, but she is assigned the case—alongside her new service dog, Harry, whose instincts help her in unexpected ways.

There’s an obvious suspect for the murder, and Zoe makes an arrest. But it’s all too neat, and none of Zoe’s colleagues believes her theory that the whole thing is a stitch-up.

Except now someone is trying to hunt Zoe down.

Superbly plotted, and vividly set in the beachside suburbs and hilly retreats around Melbourne, The Long Game is a mystery about a tough and clever investigator who won’t give up.


The Long Game by Simon Rowell is a cunning mystery with a marvelous lead protagonist.

Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer has been on leave for the last several months and she is eager to get back to work. Her first case is the murder of thirty-nine-year-old Ray Carlson who everyone says was a great guy. He is recently separated from his soon to be ex-wife, Donna and he enjoys surfing with his childhood friend Dwayne Harley. With her service dog Harry at her side, Zoe and her partner Detective Senior Constable Charlie Shaw are soon on the hunt for Ray’s killer.

Zoe is an experienced homicide detective who has sharp instincts and a keen intellect. She is quick to reassure Charlie and their boss Detective Inspector Rob Loretti she does not need any coddling. Zoe is not an investigator to take things at face value and she can be tenacious when she has doubts about how solid her case is. She works hard to present a calm exterior even when she is frustrated so no one can doubt her fitness for duty.  She can easily hold her own when some of her fellow detectives try to rattle her.  But will Zoe take unnecessary risks as she attempts to ensure they have the arrested the right person for Ray’s murder?

The Long Game is a riveting police procedural with a well-developed storyline that is fast-paced. Zoe is a crack detective who is willing to follow her hunches in order to make sure justice is served. Charlie is a good partner but he sometimes does not always have Zoe’s back. The investigation into Ray’s death is wrapped up fairly easily but when new information comes to light, Zoe does not hesitate to take a second look at her case.  Despite a few hints here and there, the reason for her extended leave remains shrouded in mystery. With stunning twists and devious turns, Simon Rowell brings this outstanding mystery to a thrilling conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Simon Rowell, Text Publishing, The Long Game

Review: The Tulip Tree by Suzanne McCourt

Title: The Tulip Tree by Suzanne McCourt
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Henryk reached out to embrace him, formally, awkwardly. How rarely they’d touched since childhood, thought Adi, as he sank against his brother. How clumsy their love was.

Brothers Henryk and Adam Radecki’s relationship is one of fraught love and jealously. Henryk, unhappily married, becomes a rich and successful industrialist, while Adi, a devoted vet, finds and loses love. Their bond is tested throughout their lives, from the 1920s, against the background of Poland’s tragic and tumultuous relationship with Russia, through war, revolution and invasion, until 1954 in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.

Adi’s wife and son are at the heart of this riveting tale, in which family secrets threaten to tear lives apart. Caught up in momentous events, each character reminds us of our power to survive extraordinary times, of the moral choices we make and the dramatic turns our lives can take.

Beautifully written, full of the detail of everyday life, its joys and suffering, The Tulip Tree is engrossing historical fiction at its best, a profoundly moving story of love, sacrifice and loyalty.


The Tulip Tree by Suzanne McCourt is a family-centric novel that spans 1920-1950s.

Henryk and Adam “Adi” Radecki are brothers whose relationship is complicated. Henryk is a businessman who is married with one daughter. Adi is a widower with a son and after remarrying, he and his second wife have two more children. He is a veterinarian who is haunted by the death of his first wife. Henryk is competitive and regrets letting his first love get away. Adi is quiet and keeps his feelings bottled up. As war comes once again to Poland, Henryk and Adi view Hitler’s antipathy towards Jews quite differently. In the aftermath of the war, suspicions run high and informants often give up information about others to protect themselves or loved ones.

The various characters are well developed although not all of them are likable. The storyline is rife with factual information about the Polish-Soviet War, World War II and Ravensbrück concentration camp. The pacing is uneven and sometimes very slow.

The Tulip Tree by Suzanne McCourt is a poignant novel that is quite educational. The various settings are vividly brought to life. The war years are realistically portrayed and offer a haunting glimpse World War II.  After the end of the war, the Radecki families’ lives are difficult and the revelation of a secret drives a wedge between those who are affected by the devastating truth.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical, Rated C+, Review, Suzanne McCourt, Text Publishing, The Tulip Tree

Review: The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

Title: The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Historical (60s), Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The summer of 1966–7. Hal and his little brother have just come to live in Moorabool. They’re exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but killed.

Not just killed, but horribly maimed.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his big-city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. Like other pets around the town.

He knows what it means when someone tortures animals to death. They’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting late-night phone calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously. But will that be enough to keep her and her young sons safe?

Nostalgic yet clear-eyed, simmering with small-town menace, Greg Woodland’s wildly impressive debut populates the rural Australia of the 1960s with memorable characters and almost unbearable tension.


Set in 1966-67, The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland is a gritty mystery set in rural Australia.

Twelve-year-old Hal Humphries, his younger brother, Evan and their parents, John and Corrie, have recently relocated from Sydney to Moorabool. Hal’s dad is a traveling salesman whose recent promotion is intended to ensure he is home more. Much to Corrie’s dismay, John is soon back on the road but family friend Doug Slocombe keeps a close eye on the family. Hal and Evan’s horrid discovery of a murdered dog sets the scene for frightening occurrences that include eerie phone calls to Corrie, someone lurking outside their home and eventually, murder.

The rural setting is quite atmospheric as Hal spends his days riding his bike and exploring an abandoned caravan. He is equally obsessed with and a little scared of the ramshackle caravan that has a terrible past. His new friend Allie resists his entreaties to explore the inside and she cuts a wide berth around it as much as possible.  But curiosity brings him back the caravan time and again until he makes a gruesome discovery.

Former detective now probationary Constable Mick Goodenough is a member of the Moorabool police station. He is the only officer who takes what is happening to the Humphries family seriously. Unfortunately, his boss does not think there is anything to be concerned about and he orders Mick to stay out of it.  Mick stubbornly continues trying to lend assistance to Hal and Corrie. However, his actions are just not enough to prevent the horrifying series of events that are about to unfold.

The Night Whistler is a riveting mystery with a well-written, engaging plot. Hal is a typical boy with an active imagination who refuses to give up trying to find out who is tormenting his mum. He is very observant and some of what he sees changes his viewpoint of the adults around him. Mick is a little disgusted by his co-workers’ lack of professionalism with the townspeople. He is also dismayed at the absence of an investigation for the first murder. With plenty of suspense, Greg Woodland  brings this thrilling mystery to a tension-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Greg Woodland, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Text Publishing, The Night Whistler

Review: Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke

Title: Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Elle Castillo once trained as a social worker, supporting young victims of violent crime. Now she hosts a popular true crime podcast that focuses on cold cases of missing and abducted children.

After four seasons of successfully solving these cases in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Elle decides to tackle her white whale: The Countdown Killer. Twenty years ago, TCK was terrorizing the community, kidnapping and ritualistically murdering three girls over seven days, each a year younger than the last. Then, after he took his eleven-year-old victim, the pattern—and the murders—abruptly stopped. No one has ever known why.

When Elle follows up on a listener tip only to discover the man’s dead body, she feels at fault. Then, within days, a child is abducted—a young girl who seems to fit suspiciously into the TCK sequence halted decades before. While media and law enforcement long ago concluded that TCK had suicided, Elle has never believed TCK was dead. She had hoped her investigation would lay that suspicion to rest, but her podcast seems instead to be inciting new victims.


Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke is a riveting mystery about a true crime podcaster’s attempt to identify a long dormant serial killer.

Elle Castillo’s true crime podcast, Justice Delayed, has become more popular with each season. Her newest podcast features a serial killer dubbed The Countdown Killer “TCK” who went dormant twenty years ago.  His first victim in 1996 was a twenty-year-old woman and each girl he kidnapped afterward was always a year younger.  TCK went dark after his final victim, an eleven-year-old girl, escaped. Although the police have worked on the case sporadically over the years, their efforts yielded no new evidence. Elle has put a lot of hours into the case and with every episode, Justice Delayed draws more listeners.

It appears Elle’s hard work has paid off when she is contacted by someone who claims to know TCK’s identity. Unfortunately, the tipster is murdered before Elle arrives at to meet him. Frustrated but certain she might be getting close to finding TCK, Elle is soon in a race against time when a young girl is kidnapped. She is certain TCK is responsible but her friend, police Commander Ayaan Ridwaan, is skeptical. Undaunted, Elle continues pursuing her theory, but the stakes become much higher when another young girl is taken.

Elle is happily married to Hennepin County Medical Examiner Martin Castillo. He is very proud she has solved cold cases because of her podcast. He is quite supportive of her work, but he cannot help but worry for her safety. Elle tends to become overly involved as she tirelessly works around the clock tracking down leads and following new evidence. She is entirely fixated on the TCK case and she is stressed and exhausted after the tipster’s death and the young girl’s kidnapping. Martin and Ayaan fear Elle has developed tunnel vision as her obsession grows. If TCK is the person responsible for the girl’s disappearance, Elle knows she must act quickly before he takes another victim.  With time running out, will Elle finally find the one thread that will unravel the mystery of TCK’s identity?

Alternating between the podcast episodes and events in the present, Girl, 11 is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery. Elle is an intense woman who is on a mission to crack the TCK case but her obsession soon clouds her judgment. She is also less than reliable as she comes up with wild theories without evidence to back up her ideas.  Elle is initially a valuable asset to Ayaan as she assists in the kidnapping case. But Ayaan fears history is repeating itself as Elle becomes less clearheaded and more erratic during the investigation. With a shocking twist and jaw-dropping turn, Amy Suiter Clarke brings this clever debut to suspenseful conclusion.

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Filed under Amy Suiter Clarke, Contemporary, Girl 11, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Text Publishing

Review: The Second Son by Loraine Peck

Title: The Second Son by Loraine Peck
Publisher: Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Duty always has a price.

When Ivan Novak is shot dead putting out his garbage bins in Sydney’s west, his family wants revenge, especially his father Milan, a notorious crime boss. It’s a job for the second son, Ivan’s younger brother Johnny.

But Johnny loves his wife Amy and their son Sasha. And she’s about to deliver her ultimatum: either the three of them escape this wave of killing or she’ll leave, taking Sasha.

Torn between loyalty to his family and love for his wife, Johnny plans the heist of a lifetime and takes a huge risk. Is he prepared to pay the price? And what choice will Amy make?

The Second Son is a brilliant action-packed crime debut that creates a world where honour is everything, violence is its own language, and love means breaking all the rules


The Second Son by Loraine Peck is a gritty mystery about a Croatian crime family.

Johnny Novak might be part of an organized crime family, but he has managed to stay out of the dirtiest work. But when his older brother, Ivan, is gunned down in cold blood, their brutish father, Milan, forces him to take Ivan’s position. Johnny is deeply conflicted since he is married with a ten year old son. And he is just not wired the same as the some of their more violent crew members.

Johnny’s wife Amy has always looked the other way when it comes to Johnny’s family business. She knows he is involved but she would rather not know too much about what they are doing.  Amy is a little restless now their son Sasha is older and she would like to go back to work.  Once the gang violence  hits close to home, Amy will do whatever it takes to protect herself and Sasha from danger. But will she convince Johnny to leave Sydney and strike out on their own?

Johnny has not been averse to the minor violence he is occasionally involved in. He collects payments from the managers of their legitimate businesses and he works the heists the family occasionally pulls off.  Johnny has not had to deal with the more deadly aspects of the business since Ivan is their father’s right hand man. Under extreme pressure from Milan to avenge Ivan’s murder, Johnny is torn between loyalty to his father and his love and devotion to Amy and Sasha.

The Second Son is a fast-paced and compelling mystery. The characters are vibrantly developed and  likable which makes it easy to overlook their livelihood. The storyline is engaging and quite suspenseful. The various settings are meticulously detailed and easy to visualize. With stunning twists and shocking turns, Loraine Peck brings this clever debut to an exciting conclusion. I completely enjoyed and highly recommend this outstanding novel. I cannot wait for the sequel!

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Filed under Contemporary, Loraine Peck, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Text Publishing, The Second Son