Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PRIME CUT by Alan Carter ★ ★ ★★

An Outback Thriller

Reviewed by Tracy Harris
The West Australian outback was never on the career path for Detective Senior Constable Philip “Cato” Kwong. The poster boy for political correctness, Cato’s career had been on the fast-track, until everything goes wrong and Cato finds himself an unwilling member of the Stock Squad, investigating the deaths of rotting road-kill.
Mining town Hopetoun is not part of Cato’s patch, a booming anomaly in a world in economic meltdown. However when a human torso washes ashore on Hopetoun’s scenic coastline, Cato is despatched to investigate and a glimmer of light appears on his career radar. Ignoring the fact that his rescue from highway hell is only for a few days until staff from other departments can be relocated, Cato grabs the opportunity to redeem himself to his old boss, DI Mick Hutchens and takes on the case like he has no tomorrow.
It’s a plan that works well until he realises that the senior officer in the two-cop town is one of his exes, Tess Maguire.  Tess has demons of her own to lay to rest, and the last person she needs to see on her turf is Cato.  After all, where Cato goes, trouble follows, and so he does, making enemies faster than friends as he lifts the lid on migrant exploitation and upsets the power brokers of Hopetoun.
However, as their investigation proceeds and another death comes to light, the whole team becomes a potential target for an even more disturbed criminal mind whose crimes not only cross the decades, but half the world as well.
With a succinct and direct style, Alan Carter has written a novel that grips from the first page to the last. An immigrant to Australia from the UK, Carter has captured the dry Australian spirit accurately. His characters are well drawn and thought out and reflect their locales perfectly.  Carter’s familiarity with the Great Southern region adds to the tale and his personal experiences of Hopetoun and a mining boom give a depth of understanding many authors would do well to emulate.

Thank you to Fremantle Press for our review copy of Prime Cut .

Publication Year  2011
Publisher             Fremantle Press
Awards         Shortlisted, Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, 2010
vailable        in 
Prime Cut ebook 2011 and Paperback Prime Cut 2011
Sample Chapter   PRIME CUT extract.pdf

Alan Carter was born in Sunderland, UK, in 1959. He holds a degree in Communications Studies from Sunderland Polytechnic and immigrated to Australia in 1991. Alan lives in Fremantle with his wife Kath and son Liam. He works as a television documentary director. In his spare time he follows a black line up and down the Fremantle pool. Prime Cut is Alan Carter’s first novel. He wrote it while he was living in Hopetoun as a kept man.
Awards - Winner, Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, 2011Short listed, UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, 2010

Friday, March 8, 2013

An Interview with Sara Foster

An Interview with Sara Foster the Author of Shallow Breath

Whilst most non-Australians struggle mimicking the Aussie drawl most readers of Sara Foster’s latest mystery Shallow Breath, set predominantly in Western Australia, would be surprised to learn that the author of this quintessential Aussie story has only lived there for eight years. 
English-born Foster has always felt the land down-under was her second home. Thanks to her Australian stepfather there were many childhood family visits to the sun-burnt country.
The best-selling psychological suspense author credits her “Aussie” friends and her travel around the country for her insight in creating authentic Australian characters in her latest mystery. “I’ve enjoyed talking to many different Australians with interesting stories from similar backgrounds to many of my characters before I began writing.”
Shallow Breath, set in the present day, with flashbacks to the early nineties, tells the tale of Desi, a woman who has done something terrible in her past and now returns from prison to her seaside home hoping to reconnect with her teenage daughter Maya. Maya is finding it difficult to forgive her Mother for her inexplicable actions.  

Told in five parts via multiple view-points, Desi recounts her life in the nineties whilst working at the West Australian iconic Atlantis Marine Park just as it was shutting its doors. It was there she met American Connor, a passionate marine biologist, with whom she develops a friendship which changes her life forever.
Foster spent months researching Atlantis and the true-life drama and public fascination surrounding the releasing of its tamed dolphins back into the wild upon the 1990 park closure. 
Foster continues, ‘I chatted to a lady who lived locally and had worked in the restaurants there who filled me in on extra details.  I also talked to a lot of people who had been visitors and remembered the dolphin shows well and provided their own photos.”
Ironically, one of Foster’s friends with whom she had lost touch approached her on her launch night telling her she used to work with the dolphins there. “I had no idea,” said the surprised author.
Strange connections like this were actually the inspiration for the book. The most relevant to the book reminisces Foster was not of the human-kind.  “In 1999 when I was diving on the Great Barrier Reef, I returned to the boat and was hanging on to a rope waiting to be helped out. I put my face underwater and found myself staring at a ten to thirteen foot minke whale less than an arm’s length away just watching me curiously.”
Instead of being frozen with fear, as Foster had expected to be on encountering an enormous creature, she was instead filled with wonder. “I certainly felt that there was an assessing, intelligent eye watching me.”

Foster counts this underwater encounter, as well as her ”travel to some amazing places”, as the fuel that has steadily grown her passion for conservation over the past twelve years. “Without that experience I don’t know if I would be quite so passionate about saving all the minke whales harpooned every year in the Southern Oceans,” she adds.
She also reminisces of “fabulous encounters” with wild dolphins and an hour-long play session with a baby sea lion in the Galapagos – “this little animal just bolted around me and mimicked whatever movement I made.”

          Readers of Shallow Breath will find themselves bang in the middle of an eco-warrior drama and Foster’s fervor for animal conservation shines. Foster often highlights conservation issues through her Twitter and Facebook accounts and a visit to her website www.shallowbreath.com provides information not only on her book but issues as wide-ranging as the dwindling orangutan population, horrific treatment of dolphins in Japan, and the plight of orphaned Kangaroo joeys after their mothers are killed in culls.
          “I’ve realised just how fragile so much of life is,” says Foster “and how an enormous swathe of the natural world is under threat today from industrial development without respect for nature or regard for long-term sustainability. Shallow Breath developed out of this interest, and I plan to continue talking about it and supporting different causes as much as I can.”

This book is Foster’s third and she admits that it can become “quite intense” juggling her family life in a northern Perth suburb with her young daughter. “Basically, whenever my husband isn’t working he is looking after our daughter while I am locked away with the laptop and piles of draft chapters. I try not to take on too many deadlines so our family life isn’t pushed aside for too long but it’s definitely a challenge.”
With the rise and rise of e-books, and the changes in the industry, Foster believes that “the terror of physical books ‘dying’ is probably a bit of an overreaction.”  Instead she hopes the flexibility offered by e-books may create earning opportunities for writers. “I really admire people like Hugh Howey, whom I think has been particularly savvy in the way he has published his books in different territories.”
Despite her mastery of the Australian vernacular, and without ruling out a future sequel to Shallow Breath, Foster won’t be returning immediately to the island continent in her next book. “I think I’m going to go for some more dark and unusual family secrets in a psychological suspense set over the course of one night in the Lake District in England. Watch this space!”

Read our review of Shallow Breath. CLICK HERE

Review Copy supplied by RANDOM HOUSE Australia. For more information please visit http://www.randomhouse.com.au

For a FREE First Chapter of Shallow Breath CLICK HERE

Visit The Shallow Breath Website to learn how Sara blended fact with fiction to create SHALLOW BREATH.

Release Dates: Australia and New Zealand: December 2012

You can purchase Shallow Breath from all good books stores in Australia.
E-Book for Australians and International: Amazon   Amazon UK
if you are overseas or in Australia, you can ALSO purchase direct from the author's website.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton ★ ★ ★★

           Reviewed by Tracy Harris
When a small company has a default on a payment or loan, they call in the debt collectors. But who does an International, multi-million dollar business call in when someone has defrauded them of over US$50,000,000?
The answer is simple, or for those in the know, at least. Ava Lee, a Canadian born Forensic Accountant who has partnered with her “Uncle” Chow Tung, an elderly Hong Kong based Chinese businessman who may, or may not, have close connections with the Triad gangs.
For Tommy Ordonez, the richest, self-made millionaire in the Phillipines, they are the answer. As Ava begins her investigations, starting with Tommy’s North American based brother, Phillip Chow, she soon discovers a complex real estate fraud case that ultimately links back to the shady world of on-line gambling. Travelling through San Francisco, Las Vegas, Vancouver and London, Ava is forced to watch her back as a contract has been put on her by a disgruntled adversary.
Not your standard heroine, Ava is not prepared to let others do the dirty work and, in her line of business, it can certainly get dirty. Cool and calm, she refuses to be flustered when attacked by anonymous strangers, hit men or even confronted with matchmaking close friends.
Ava is an unusual character whose unique personality adds to the tale. An exotic combination of traditional and respectful Chinese culture and modern Canadian values, Ava is not prepared to back down from any confrontation, nor allow herself or her colleagues to be manipulated into actions which are not of any benefit to themselves. Tough, resourceful, chic and incredibly intelligent, it’s certainly a wild ride as we follow Ava on her business trip like no other.
Ian Hamilton has lead an exciting life working as a journalist, a senior executive with the federal government, a diplomat, and a businessman with international links. His first book, a non-fiction publication, was published almost 40 years before his first Ava Lee novel. Fortunately, his experiences from travelling throughout the world have given him an excellent background to draw upon for his current series. Like Ava, Ian and his wife are based in Canada.
If you are a fan of strong female characters who don’t back down in a crisis and who don’t take prisoners, the Ava Lee series is certainly one you don’t want to miss. Be warned, there are punches thrown and blood spilled so if, as a reader, you’d prefer to avoid violence, this is not the book for you.

The review copy of 'The Disciple of Las Vegas' supplied by NetGalley.
For more information about this book, click through to Hachette website The Disciple of Las Vegas 

RELEASED:  November 2012
It was a life-threatening health scare that prompted Ian Hamilton to write his first in the series of captivating Ava Lee novels. Just two days out of hospital and recovering from surgery, Ian sat down at his computer. The name ‘Ava Lee’ came to him and the first chapter was quickly written. A few short weeks later, the first Ava Lee novel was completed.
Ian is not a stranger to the literary world. He began his career as a journalist and wrote a non-fiction book in 1968, The Children’s Crusade, which was a Canadian Book-of-the-Month selection. He has written for several magazines and newspapers in Canada and the U.S., including Maclean’s, Boston Magazine, Saturday Night, the Regina Leader-Post, the Calgary Albertan, and the Calgary Herald. He has been a senior executive with the federal government, and as worked internationally as a diplomat and businessman. Although there are 40 years between books, Ian never lost his passion for writing.
The years he spent travelling the world on business, spending countless hours on planes and hotels, became important influences on his writing, providing personal insights into the world of business and into the many people, places and cultures Ava Lee encounters.
His inspiration for the Ava Lee series did not end when the first book was complete. About half way through writing the first book, an idea for the second book came to Ian and he built it into the plot of the first. He began writing the second book the day after the first book was finished. The same is true for the third and fourth books. Within eight months, all four books were complete. Ian secured a four-book deal from his publisher before the last two books were even read by the publisher. International rights have been sold into the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany and worldwide Spanish and French rights.
Ian is currently working on the continuation of the Ava Lee series and has already completed books 5 and 6.
Ian lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife Lorraine. He has four children and seven grandchildren.

Visit this author's website  http://ianhamiltonbooks.com/