My year in books: David Whish-Wilson

ZeroThe next guest in the ‘my year in books’ series is Perth-based crime writer David Whish-Wilson.

David’s Zero At the Bone (the sequel to his 2010 book, Line of Sight) was one of my favourite crime reads of 2013. I reviewed the book on this site a couple of months ago.

Also hot off the presses and getting rave reviews is David’s book about his home town, Perthpart of the New South Books city series. You can find the book here.

Dave’s got some interesting choices. The first of the Laidlaw series is on my radar to try soon.

Welcome David.

My top 5 books of this Year, in no particular order are:

The Dying Beach, Angela Savage

I’ve spent most of the year working on a non-fiction book, and my reading has been pretty much limited to municipal histories and the like. One thing I notice about this year’s favourite novels, unlike in previous years, is that 4 of the 5 are Australian, and three of the four are West Australian, which I think is terrific. One of the greatest joys this year was reading Angela Savage’s latest crime novel, The Dying Beach. From the first pages I was there with Jayne Keeney and her idiosyncratic but always fully-realised side-kick, Rajiv. Set in Thailand, the book is hard-edged but leavened with humour and pathos. For those interested in a fuller review, I looked at the novel on my website.

Elemental, Amanda Curtin

This novel is sublime in its evocation of a small Scottish fishing village seen through the eyes of Meggie Tulloch, the narrator of the story, now an older woman and living in Western Australia. The sense of the bitterness of the cold, the hardness of lives and the fragile hopes of Meggie and her sisters, plus the moving imagery associated with the island and the dangerous profession of fishing, the perfectly described integration of superstition into the lives of the villagers has stayed with me for months.

Harmless, Julienne van Loon

This is a small quiet novella that resonates with feeling and insight into the interwoven lives of its main protagonists; Amanda, a child whose father Dave is incarcerated, and Rattuwat, an older Thai man who’s in Perth to witness his daughter’s funeral. I’ve always loved the novella form, and this is a good example of why. There is suspense and empathy alike in this very human story…

Getting Warmer, Alan Carter

Getting Warmer revisits many of the characters from Carter’s very popular Prime Cut. The plot is more complex, but the same sharp-edged humour is there. Carter brings Fremantle to life as Cato Kwong and his not always supportive colleagues try and figure out what’s behind the mayhem visited upon the port city. A great read.

The Laidlaw novels, William McIlvanney

Peter Rozovsky of the Detectives Beyond Borders put me on to this Scottish crime writer, the ‘godfather of Tartan Noir’ as I’ve heard him described, and I’m very appreciative. I read all three Laidlaw novels one after the other. The depth of characterisation and the brilliant turn of phrase – the deft insights into the minds of Glaswegian hard men who are always authentically human, the hard poetry and the sharp humour, these books are terrific crime novels, some of the best I’ve read over the past five years. Now that I’ve read the father, I’m moving on to the son, crime writer Liam McIlvanney, who I’ve heard equally great things about.


4 Responses

  1. Wow – I’m thrilled The Dying Beach made Dave’s top 5 books of the year. His Zero At the Bone made mine. Andrew, please assure Pulpcurry readers there is no collusion!

    I agree that Harmless was a wonderful novella (I reviewed it here). And Amanda Curtin’s Elemental is on my TBR pile for summer. Dave’s recommendation has bumped it to the top.

  2. So happy to be on David’s stellar list! I have Alan’s latest on my reading pile, Angela’s is on order (I’ve just finished her first and loved it) and I reviewed Julienne’s earlier in the year ( As a fan of all things Glaswegian, I’ll have to put the Laidlaw novels on my list too. Thanks, David, and hello Andrew. 🙂

  3. All of these sound interesting. I plan to read David Whish-Wilson’s books. I know I am interested in Angela Savage’s books and the Laidlaw series. The others I will have to look into.

  4. Liam McIlvanney is pretty good, too. But Pop McIlvanney? Well, you know those dreary claims about literary novels that just happen to be about crime? McIlvanney is one of the few authors whose works work equally well as crime fiction and literary/mainstream/whatever you want to call it fiction. I am pleased to have spread the news about him. He is one of the very best.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    “Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.