“His voice had more husk than a woman in death-grip underwear can generally withstand.”
A quintessentially Australian murder mystery set in the declining one horse town of Rusty Bore, in Mallee country, Murder with the Lot is a delightfully light and funny story. The story unfolds after a stranger by the name of Clarence shows up looking for a burger with the lot and somewhere quiet to stay while he writes a book and Cass Tuplin, local take away shop owner, knows just what to do on both fronts. However, as she finds out more about Clarence, his family and connections in near by Muddy Soak (have you ever heard such great names for towns?), Cass suddenly wants Clarence and his lot out of town and far away. This proves considerably harder than it might sound. Throw in a missing body, a mystery man and his dog and a few ferrets and you have yourself a story.
In many ways the plot is fairly standard of these small town mysteries with a self-appointed investigator, but in a very quirky, very country Australia kind of way. It’s also chock full of slap stick humour, in-jokes and classic red-headed fish and chip shop owner references. It’s written about Aussies, for Aussies and I think a wider audience than that would struggle to understand a lot of it, especially the humour. The characters are great. Besides the sassy but slightly obtuse Cass, there are her two sons, the local cop trying his best to not let his mother completely destroy his career prospects, and the sometime environmental activist under estimated by everyone. There is the one-armed randy general store owner, always looking for a merger with Cass’s shop (and perhaps Cass herself), a dodgy detective and even dodgier love interest and finally a millionaire family.
This is the kind of book you pick up on a lazy Sunday and finish before dinner (if you don’t have two ever demanding small beings around). It’s easy to read and suspenseful enough to keep you turning those pages. And best yet, it’s not pretending to be anything else. For me it had the added appeal of being set in the area (or close enough to it) that I grew up in. Truly an enjoyable read.
Now one more important item before I wrap up. I’ve been enjoying writing these Wednesday Read posts, but as you can imagine my reading has slowed after the summer break and I’m running out of books I’ve read recently to review. So I want to open these up to guest reviewers. It doesn’t have to be long, a brief synopsis, a bit about the writing style and what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about it. You could give it a rating, add a couple of quotes (which can easily be found by searching on Good Reads for most books) and a picture of the cover. Have a think about it and leave me a comment here or a message on the Facebook page if you’re interested.