Festive Fiction Feast

Article | Jan 2017

From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer.


Tom Keneally, one of Australia’s National Living Treasures, has long had a fraught relationship with the Catholic Church. He was once a seminarian, and in his new novel, Crimes of the Father, he turns his knowledgeable gaze onto the church and the scandals that have surrounded it in recent decades.The story follows Australian priest Frank Docherty, who learns of the alleged sexual abuse of two people by a Sydney monsignor.He needs to bring their stories to light and force the church to address the crimes. But Frank may not have foreseen the cost to himself. 

Keneally wrote in a recent article of a friend, Pat O’Connor, who was a Catholic priest. Pat told the author how pleased he was ‘to live fraternally in a monastery, instead of on his own in a sterile presbytery where laughter is rarely heard’. Keneally wanted to tell ‘the story of outrage, to tell the story from within the humanity of a figure like Pat Connor’. 

Reclusive Italian writer Elena Ferrante is known for her ‘Neapolitan Novels’. Her recently translated book, Frantumaglia: A writer’s journey, is the only non-fiction title here, but she is best known for her fiction, and this book will answer questions you may have about this reclusive author whose closely guarded cover was recently blown. Inside are interviews with journalists, letters, and her thoughts on Naples, politics, feminism and why she decided to keep her identity a secret. 

Jeffrey Archer is a novel-writing machine. He has written over 30 books, many of them bestsellers that have entertained millions of readers. His latest book, This Was a Man, is the seventh and last book in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’. The series started in 1919 and focuses on Harry Clifton, a young man from humble circumstances who will make the best of what life deals him. In this last instalment, Harry sets out to write the knockout book of his career, but the family is devasted when one of them receives a horrific diagnosis that turns the lives of everyone upside down. 

A new ‘Jack Reacher’ novel. Night School is the 21st book in the series.This story is set in 1996, when Reacher was still in the army. He is sent to find an American who has something to sell and he wants a lot of money for it.Who is this American? What does he have to sell that is worth so much and what does it mean for the world? Some fans may be disappointed as this is a prequel of sorts, but for those who like the series you know what to expect and Lee Child delivers.

Days Without End is Sebastian Barry’s new book. This multi award-winning author (he’s been shortlisted for the Man Booker) has delivered a book set in the American Indian Wars and the Civil War. It’s the 1850s and, like many young men,Thomas McNulty has left famine-plagued Ireland and headed for the US, where he has joined the US Army. He is sent to fight in the Indian Wars against the Sioux and the Yurok and, ultimately, in the Civil War. Barry writes beautifully and this book has already received comparisons to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and Cormac McCarthy’s books. 

Several Australian female authors that have released books in time for holiday reading. If you enjoy romantic historical fiction you’ll like Fiona McIntosh’s The Chocolate Tin. A secret love note is discovered on the body of a dead English soldier in the aftermath of World War I, tucked inside a tin of chocolate sent to him from home. Captain Harry Blakeney is intrigued.Who wrote this message? He heads off to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where he meets two people who can bring to light long-buried secrets. 

Readers of romantic suspense will be pleased to know that Annie Seaton has a new book out called Daintree. Anyone who loved the bestselling first book in ‘The Porter Sisters’ series, Kakadu Sunset, will be keen to get their hands on this second instalment. In the first book we met Ellie Porter, a helicopter pilot. Now meet Dr Emma Porter, who works at the local hospital. Life is turned upside down when her first love, Jeremy Langford, starts working there as well, having moved to seek some peace and quiet. But things in this town are not quite what they seem. 

Karen Brooks is well known to readers of fantasy, but over the last few years she has written historical fiction. The Brewer’s Tale was well received and her latest book, The Locksmith’s Daughter (MIRA), has followed suit. Mallory Bright is the eponymous daughter. She has spent her life learning her father’s trade and there is no lock she can’t pick. Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I, entices Mallory into his world of intrigue. But it’s far from what she expected it to be.

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