One thriller and one crime novel

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I have a poor track record when it comes to reading thrillers. Mostly because they’re simply not thrilling – I either spend time guessing what has happened and then watching it unfold (The Girl on the Train) or thinking “This is just far-fetched stupidity” (Gone Girl). So how did the bestseller, The Wife Between Us, hold up? Very, very well.

The blurb outlines a story about a jealous ex-wife and her beautiful, young ‘replacement’. At a glance, it’s a plot that’s the bread-and-butter of thriller writers. However, the authors have added some very clever subplots that will have you reassessing the characters as the story unfolds.

This book made me gasp in surprise, but only twice. That’s important because twists and turns on every third page has me filing thrillers under “This is just far-fetched stupidity”. Instead, every detail in this story has been meticulously planned by the authors and the ending is immensely satisfying.

4/5 Thrilling.

Wimmera by Mark Brandi
(to be published as Into the River in the US, September 2019)

Set in 1989, in rural Victoria, best friends Ben and Fab spend their days yabbying, playing cricket and wishing for the latest sneakers. What’s not talked about is the presence of domestic violence or the fact that a newcomer to town frightens both boys.

The novel didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. Wimmera is positioned as a coming-of-age crime story (an Australian Stand By Me?). Yes, there is a crime – in fact, multiple crimes. Although each crime is carefully plotted, it was all too much and the final part of the story was rushed and uneven as a result. Furthermore, the voices of the boys missed the mark – their discussions about pornography and masturbation did not ring true and whilst these elements were used to provide contrast with other parts of the plot, they were gratuitous. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that having 11 year-olds look at pornography in one chapter, while they’re groomed in the next chapter, would be traumatic for some readers.

2/5 Needs to come with a raft of trigger warnings.

I received my copy of Wimmera from the publisher, Hachette Australia, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

11 responses

    • The thing I usually hate about thrillers is excessive coincidences or convenient meetings between characters – this one had neither. Had me guessing until the very end.

    • I agree, they rarely stay with me (and usually only do if I end up watching the film version of the book). This one is ripe to be made into a film although one of the major twists may be more obvious on film.

  1. I share your opinion on thrillers and rarely read them! Thanks for the heads up about Wimmera, no other review I’ve read has mentioned this and as a mother of two sons, 13 and 15, this is not the type of content I want to read. At least, not now or in the foreseeable future.

    • Yes, I’m the same. To be clear, there’s references to suicide, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, child pornography and grooming. I think people need to know that going in.

      • Yes, and I actually find it interesting that it won a Dagger Award. I don’t know the criteria for that award but it is certainly not a police procedural novel, nor does it have a strong forensic angle. There’s a bit of courtroom stuff at the end but that part feels tacked on rather than a critical part of the plot.

      • I read The Rip, this year’s release from him, and found much to appreciate in it. But I did note at the time that readers who had read Wimmera were saying The Rip was totally different in style and tone as well as type of story.
        Wimmera was nominated for an ABIA as well, from memory. Can’t remember if it won or not, though.

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