Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood (Penguin, 1991); audiobook read by Stephanie Daniel (Bolinda, 2009) As with ‘Flying Too High’, the mystery is not so much solved as forced to recognise the unstoppable poise and authority of Miss Phryne Fisher. An easy read of historical interest and with characters made even more memorable by the TV series.
Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, Series 2 (Acorn, 2021) The episodes have doubled in number since the first series but halved in length, resulting in slighter mysteries and a more light-hearted approach (litmus test: Chief Inspector Sparrow). Celebrates the 1960s but calls out Australian society for its dismissive attitude towards women.
Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic (Echo, 2019); audiobook read by Casey Withoos (W.F. Howes, 2020) Though the mystery and its investigation are quite slight, Kovacic concocts a cosy and somewhat fraught intrigue throughout. The text shines with passion for art, while Alex and John’s female/male friendship shows real Australian personality. Hogarth the Irish Wolfhound remains a delight.
Full Bore by William McInnes (Hachette, 2016); audiobook read by William McInnes (W F Howes, 2017) A gentle, rather wistful gathering together of memories and musings. McInnes presents recollections within recollections, the weave of his stories constituting less a riotous series of anecdotes and more an appreciation of life as a mosaic of shared happiness and small moments.
The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a Lost Australia by Richard Glover (ABC Books, 2018); audiobook read by the author (Bolinda, 2018) Part personal recollection, part assiduous research, Glover delivers a time capsule of Australian social history for the years 1975-1985. Though the material itself is fascinating, and tragicomic in a ‘truth as satire’ way, the delivery suffers whenever Glover…
The Making of Modern Australia by William McInnes (Hachette, 2010); audiobook read by John Burnley (QNS Audio, 2013) A thoughtful social history of Australia post Second World War, structured around McInnes’s own reminiscences plus interviews with Australians from a wide variety of backgrounds. Without shying away from our well-documented national failings, McInnes makes a case for embracing a common heritage.…
Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries (Seven Network, 2019) Ms Fisher dances smoothly forward in time to 1960s Melbourne, reworking several aspects of the earlier Miss Fisher series and proving a worthy successor. Geraldine Hakewill (Peregrine Fisher) is mod-culture personified and every bit Essie Davis’s (Phryne’s) equal across four feature-length episodes.
Nest by Inga Simpson (Hachette, 2014); audiobook ready by the author (Wavesound, 2016) A could-have-been murder mystery in which Inga Simpson defies all genre expectations and instead just tells the story of a woman coming to terms with her life choices. A beautiful exploration of flora and fauna, person and place (the Sunshine Coast hinterland).
Midnight Oil & First Nation Collaborators: Makarrata Live @ Sirromet Wines, 28 February 2021 Frontman Peter Garrett brims over with spasmodic, shambling energy; Midnight Oil remain a loud and formidable, politicised unit: at times musically self-indulgent but culturally more relevant than ever. Highlights included First Nation, Power and the Passion (drum solo!) and The Dead Heart.
The Brisbane Line by Hugh MacMaster (Rockhampton, 2000); audiobook read by Graham Webster (QNS Audio, 2002 A locally produced account of Australia’s controversial Second World War defence strategy and the historical circumstances from which it arose. MacMaster succeeds admirably in detailing Australia’s war efforts and providing the global context of military mismanagement, clandestine manoeuvring and self-interested political short-sightedness.