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Rating Scale:

*****  Fantastic! You’ve gotta read this one!

****  Great. Well worth a look

***   OK. You may enjoy it.

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“Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Literary

Read: February


“The Dish Dog: A Novel” by Peter Davidson

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Thriller/Suspense

Read: February

Dr Kimberly King has just landed her dream job in the Financial Audit office of the FBI. Her first task is to join a team of diehard investigators looking into some shady share trade dealings. Mystery company, Emerald Investments, has been providing its exclusive clientele with red-hot stock information for years. Who is behind Emerald Investments? Surely this person or persons must have an inside track. Are they journalists? TV personalities? Someone working for a large investment firm? And what about their clients? Who is the week link amongst the odd collective? Will it be the Dentist? The Account? The Real Estate Salesman? Surely it couldn’t be the bus boy working at one of New York’s finest dining establishments?

“The Dish Dog” by Peter Davidson is a non-stop rollercoaster of edge-of-your-seat suspense, surprise twists and a dash of humour, set against the backdrop of New York city life. The characters are interesting, and believable and will take you along with them for the ride.

The book is easy to read, not too heavy and not too light. It is sure to raise a smile as the ending leaves the story just where you want it to.

“King & Godfree: The Corner Grocer” By Michael Harden, Luisa Valmorbida & Matteo Toffano

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Cooking, Social History

Read: February

What a delightful look at the history of Carlton, Melbourne’s wonderful deli, restaurant and bar, King & Godfree. The book features fascinating anecdotes about the history of the store, brilliant pictures and fabulous descriptions of various continental deli items. And, as if that weren’t enough, there are tonnes of fabulous recipes to satisfy every diet. A wonderful book and a pleasure to read.

“Old Vintage Melbourne: 1960 – 1990” By Chris Macheras

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Coffee Table/History

Read: February

Another delightful pictorial history of the city of Melbourne, Australia. The book is replete with amazing images of this changing city. A pleasure to read, and one that will take pride of place on the coffee table.

“The Australian Dram: Sell Everything and Move to Betotta”

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Humour/Gift Book

Read: January

A hilarious edition to the shelves from the faux publication The Betoota Advocate. This compilation of previously published articles describes the city of Betoota (which does exist – but is a ghost town in the far southwest of Queensland), its residents and local attractions, with all the skills of a major newspaper. This tongue-in-cheek look at Australia’s political issues, socio-economic problems and cultural foibles is a must for all.

“Sh*t Towns of Australia – The Great Aussie Road Trip” by Rick Furphy & Geoff Rissole

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Humour/Gift Book

Read: January

“Sh*t Towns of Australia: The Great Aussie Road Trip” is a catalogue of the best of the tackiest, cr*ppiest tourist attractions the country has to offer. From the Giant Mango to the Giant Earthworm; there are are plenty of bucket list items in this gem of a tourist guide. Must read for all Australian travellers and visitors to the country.

“The Little Black Dress” By Megan Hess

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Fashion/Gift Book

Read: January

A wonderful, pocket-sized gift book full of wonderful illustrations. “The Little Black Dress” by Megan Hess looks at the history of the LBD, popular designs, and its place in fashion history. A joy to read.

“Are You A Bogan” by Boganology


Genre: Fiction: Humour/Gift Book

Read: January

All I can say is, thank the heavens that I have used the inflated bladder out of a box of goon as a pillow (’tis an Australian thing) or I would never have even scored above the “You must be a Pom” category. Great fun and an hilarious look at bogan culture.

“Banquet: The Untold Story of Adelaide’s Family Murders” by Debi Marshall

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: True Crime

Read: Dec-January

Much is known and not known, in equal parts, about the series of murders of young men in Adelaide collectively known as The Family Murders. To date, only the infamous Bevan von Einem has been charged, and with only one of the five known murders.

In “Banquet: The untold story of Adelaide’s Family murders”, Marshall faithfully assembles all known facts, theories and gossip surrounding the series of murders. She examines the key events, politics, possible perpetrators, criminal incidents and social norms from the 1970s through to the present day.

No stone, that can be lifted (and there are many that can’t) has been left unturned in her pursuit of the truth in these murky, mucky cases. Marshall has done her research, trawling through all available court records, newspapers, autopsy, and coroner’s reports. In addition, she has interviewed countless members of the police force, judiciary, victims, their families, various hangers-on, and assorted criminal and underground figures likely to be involved in these heinous crimes. Her encounters with von Einem are both alarming and sad all at the same time.
Marshall has demonstrated bravery, resilience and determination in interviewing some genuinely despicable and dangerous individuals. My admiration for true crime authors’ ability to tolerate the deluge of appalling stories and the intense sorrow of victims and their families never ceases to amaze me.

This is not a read for the faint of heart. Marshall has worked her magic to provide honest and clinical but still sensitive descriptions of the victims and the horrendous tortures they must have endured, prior to the release of death. Regardless, there is no hiding the absolute depravity of these crimes and the perversions of the perpetrators.

The ‘family murders’ are deeply unpleasant crimes. Marshall’s well structure account is alarming, sometimes horrifying and has elements which are almost certainly upsetting for all who read them. This series of crimes and subsequent lack of resolution remains a stain on the city of Adelaide and Australia in general. It is important that the stories of the victims are heard and that the case remains on the radar of the police and the general public. Bravo to Marshall for having the courage and tenacity to prepare and present these materials.

One for lovers of true crime and history.

I received a free copy of this book through Sisters in Crime – Australia, in exchange for a fair and honest review.



2022: Sarah’s 2022 Book Review List

2021: Sarah’s 2021 Book Review List

2020: Sarah’s 2020 Book Review List

2019: 2019 Book Reviews 


2017: 2017 Book Reviews by Sarah Jackson

2016: 2016-book-reviews

2015: 2015 Book reviews download