Lambs in Spring

[caption id="attachment_12063" align="aligncenter" width="433"]donny-anne-billy Donny Me Billy[/caption] The humid scorching heat of the sub-tropical climate engulfed us; the sun’s rays tore at our skin with ruthless intensity and sent us kids scurrying towards water, even if it was only to the hose in the back or front yard. Sometimes Mum would pile us into the jeep and head for the primitive baths, set in the river bank at South Grafton, a good three miles from our place. Don‘t go near the river! was a constant ringing in our ears back home. You’ll drown and no-one will hear your cries! There are bull-routs in the reeds at the water’s edge! The Clarence River was just below our backyard Water, cool and exhilarating in summer, warm and nurturing in winter.  All of us five kids learnt to swim at an early age. We splashed around in the creek on Dad’s bush paddock, where we dipped in amongst the gum trees with their roots spreading out from the banks to give us a foot-hold as we jumped in, scattering the frogs and snakes, then felt the clay bed squelchy beneath our feet.

  I: Firstly:  All things are connected, but distinctions need to be made... This may seem academic—and it is—but sometimes a subtle distinction makes all the difference in practice: The writer is not the narrator of a text of fiction, and vice versa. It is easy to forget this fact, especially when you change from Reader (studying books at uni or in a book club) to Writer. This was driven home to me once, long ago, when an Author gave a talk and had the listeners eating out of her hand (sorry for the cliché but this is exposition), laughing our butts off, (another one!) but when  I read the book, it was disappointingly dull.  I decided, then and there,  that she was more of a Speaker than a Writer. I learnt afterwards that she had, indeed, joined the International Speakers' Circuit. Oh well, good luck to her! I thought... But I, for some unknown reason,  wanted to learn how to write well.

December 13th November, 2008 [caption id="attachment_12262" align="alignleft" width="220"] a scorpio[/caption] You can't know the sheer joy and wonder of grandparenting, until it happens to you. It was around 4am when Grandad Mark’s mobile phone rang, waking us from our sleep. Thirty minutes earlier, our daughter Kate had...

Double Madness by Caroline de Costa

Published by Margaret River Press, 2015

 If you like detective stories and a rollicking good read, with a nice dose of voyeurism thrown in, this first novel by Caroline de Costa, is definitely for you. “Double Madness” is a crime novel set in far North Queensland. Not surprisingly, place is a very strong element throughout the novel, reflecting the beauty of this humid, lush area full of spectacular scenery. A woman’s body is discovered tied to a tree with expensive silk scarves in the rainforest, several weeks after cyclone Yasi has devastated the region. It’s a mystery as to who the woman is and how she died. The main criminal investigation that follows is led by attractive indigenous detective, Cass Diamond, supported by her boss, Leslie Ferrando and other crime fighters. the-cover-of-double-madnessThe theme of doctors being blackmailed enters in the second chapter, suggesting a motive for the woman’s murder, and the narrator is careful to portray the missing husband of Odile Janvier as probably not capable of carrying it out. The irony and subtle humour underlying this novel is apparent early on through the author’s choice of names. The Latino names (Borgese and Ferrando) echo those of well-known male detectives in other novels, but the shining designation of “Cass Diamond” to the young female detective breaks the mould, as does the murdered woman’s name, “Odile Janvier”, that seems to suit her perfectly. Straight, unisex Aussie names (Chris, Tim, Troy) offer an ironic contrast to the more exotic ones. There is also a subtle pairing and doubling of names, underscoring the theme of the book’s title, and emphasising difference, as well as Australia’s multicultural mix.