An American Editor

March 30, 2011

On Books: Murder Down Under

My reading habits seem to me to be odd. Why odd? Because I read genres in spurts. The spurts may be months or years, but I haven’t read a genre continuously throughout my reading life.

What I mean is this: Many years ago, the only fiction I read were mysteries written by authors like Ed McBain, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Martha Grimes, P.D. James, Mickey Spillane, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I read those books for years, then one day I stopped and moved to another genre and didn’t pick up another mystery — that is, until recently.

Several months ago I bought the ebook of Vicki Tyley’s Thin Blood at Smashwords. The synopsis looked interesting, and several people on another forum remarked positively on the ebook. I thought I couldn’t go wrong at the price. Even if I didn’t like the book, it wasn’t much of an investment.

Thin Blood, which is the story of a reporter’s investigation of a decade-old murder, reignited my interest in the mystery genre. Thin Blood is a compelling story with a twist, and Tyley keeps the reader’s interest with her articulate prose. The writing style reminded me very much of the Ed McBain/Dashiell Hammett style — sentences that have been stripped down to the barebones.

After reading Thin Blood, I had to read the other mysteries written by Tyley, Sleight Malice and Brittle Shadows. In Sleight Malice, the lead character is devastated by what she thinks is the death in a house fire of her best friend. Then she learns that the body found in the fire is male, not female, and she teams up with a private investigator to discover the truth.

In Brittle Shadows, the body of our heroine’s sister’s fiance is found hanging in his closet, presumably death by accident. Two months later, the heroine’s sister commits suicide, an act that our heroine cannot accept, especially when she learns that at the time of her death, the sister was 6 weeks pregnant.

Each of the three books is different, yet all are united by a single characteristic: strong, female leads. Tyley’s characterizations allow the reader to grasp the mental framework of the lead females. The writing is taut, direct, and without waste. Throughout the three books, there were only a couple minor grammar errors, at least from an American perspective. I admit that I am not familiar with Australian style.

What I find particularly interesting is that even with the very high quality of the writing, Vicki Tyley, as is the case with the exceptionally talented New Zealand writer, Shayne Parkinson (see On Books: The Promises to Keep Quartet), remains unsigned by the major traditional publishing houses. Makes me wonder if there is a Down Under bias.

There is no question in my mind that Vicki Tyley is the Australian P.D. James — a writer whose work is a can’t miss read. The writing is outstanding, the stories creative. The one failing is that her female leads are frenetic. Interestingly, although the female leads are as strong a character as any of the males in the story, and often even stronger, they do not comport themselves as well as their male counterparts in stress situations, leaving the impression that they are weaker than their male counterparts. It is almost as if Tyley is suggesting that no matter how strong a woman is, she is still emotionally ruled whereas men are both strong and emotionless, or at least better capable of contolling their emotions and thus more objective under stress.

The significant difference between the Parkinson books and the Tyley books is how the lead female characters — Amy Leith, in the Parkinson books, and Jemma Dalton (Brittle Shadows), Desley James (Sleight Malice), and Jacinta Deller (Thin Blood) — emotionally involve the reader in their story and plight: In the case of Amy Leith, I was greatly engaged, whereas the Tyley characters didn’t rise to that level of reader involvement. My emotional involvement was minimal at best.

That, however, is no reason to not buy, read, and enjoy these books and to anxiously await the next Tyley Down Under murder mystery. On a 5-star rating scale, I would rate each of Tyley’s 3 books as 5 stars. In comparison, for those of you who took my advice and read Parkinson’s Promises to Keep quartet, the quartet’s rating would be 5 stars plus a smidgen more, the difference being the emotional involvement of the reader with the characters.

As I wrote earlier, Vicki Tyley is the Australian P.D. James — a can’t miss read. Her mysteries definitely are in the same class as McBain, Grimes, and James, and like Grimes and James, have that little bit of reserve that distinguishes the English-style mystery from the American-style mystery. And at $2.99 an ebook, the value is greater than that of the better-known but not more capable English-style mystery writers. I highly recommend Tyley’s three ebooks to mystery fans.

11 Comments »

  1. I agree. Vicki Tyley’s books are wonderful, well-crafted mysteries which should not be missed!

    Comment by D.B. Henson — March 30, 2011 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  2. Great post! I love Vicki Tyley. A source for her eBooks is her page at XinXii. I’ve read all of them, and ‘Thin Blood’ is my favorite. High quality mystery!

    Comment by Mary Z. — March 31, 2011 @ 3:28 am | Reply

  3. The Man Who Watched Trains Go By [by Georges Simenon] is one of my favorite novels. In fact, he is my favorite Belgian writer!

    Cheers,

    Mick Spillane

    Comment by Mick Spillane — March 31, 2011 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  4. [...] on: Last week I wrote a review of Vicki Tyley’s murder mysteries, On Books: Murder Down Under. If the review sparked an interest in her Down Under murder mysteries, you can, until April 30, buy [...]

    Pingback by Vicki Tyley’s murder mystery ebooks – special offer at Smashwords | eBookanoid.com — April 7, 2011 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  5. [...] author Vicki Tyley. Regular readers of An American Editor will recall my review of her mysteries in On Books: Murder Down Under. She has 3 books available and you can buy them at a significant discount until May 15, 2011 using [...]

    Pingback by The Editor: A Writer’s Fairy Godmother or Ogre? « An American Editor — May 2, 2011 @ 5:04 am | Reply

  6. [...] author Vicki Tyley. Regular readers of An American Editor will recall my review of her mysteries in On Books: Murder Down Under. She has 3 books available and you can buy them at a significant discount until May 15, 2011 using [...]

    Pingback by Vicki Tyley discusses ebook editing, good advice for authors | eBookanoid.com — May 2, 2011 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  7. [...] you recall, I called her the Australian P.D. James. I last reviewed her books a few months ago in On Books: Murder Down Under. Vicki Tyley has written and published a new book, Fatal Liaison, which is now available at [...]

    Pingback by Worth Noting: A New Vicki Tyley Mystery « An American Editor — August 15, 2011 @ 4:04 am | Reply

  8. [...] and whose books I think are worth reading and buying include Rebecca Forster, Shayne Parkinson, Vicki Tyley, Michael Hicks, and L.J. Sellers. But finding these worthwhile authors is the difficult part, and [...]

    Pingback by The eBook Effect: Buying and Reading More « An American Editor — June 6, 2012 @ 4:01 am | Reply

  9. [...] An American Editor for a while know that I praise the writing of some indie authors, such as Vicki Tyley, Shayne Parkinson, and L.J. Sellers. I would not hesitate to buy one of their books at $4.99, let [...]

    Pingback by On Books: The Agony of Reading Franz McLaren’s Clarion of Destiny « An American Editor — July 9, 2012 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  10. [...] few months. (I also have a list of ebook-only indie authors, like Emma Jameson, Michael Hicks, Vicki Tyley, Shayne Parkinson, Rebecca Forster, and L.J. Sellers, among others, who I consider must-read but [...]

    Pingback by Why Aren’t Publishers Pushing eBooks? « An American Editor — August 22, 2012 @ 4:03 am | Reply

  11. […] “On Books: Ice Blue,” and my favorite indie author, Vicki Tyley, “On Books: Murder Down Under“; other reviews of indie books can be found by searching An American […]

    Pingback by Worth Noting: A Great Book Deal at Smashwords | An American Editor — July 7, 2014 @ 4:03 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,235 other followers

%d bloggers like this: