Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Ten Great Books set in Canberra
7th March 2021
Canberra is the latest location for us to visit in our Great Books series. Ten Great Books set in Canberra. Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia’s largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. Unusual among Australian cities, it is an entirely planned city.
“Kangaroos loose in the top paddock” = Intellectually inadequate – Canberra saying
The Corrieva Contract by Jai Baidell
A country girl with city problems…
Joanne was notorious for tackling problems head-on during her teenage years in Yass, but she has left her home town behind to pursue a stable marriage and career in Canberra instead. It was too good to last. Her husband Stephen is missing, embroiled in a mess of spy trouble. She turns to her brother for help, but Rhys has problems of his own. Who are the Corrieva family, and is it a coincidence that both father and son are complicating Joanne’s life?
Joanne is prepared to sacrifice plenty to get Stephen back, but the price is getting higher all the time. Friends, family, her finances, the career she fought so hard for, are all in danger, and even her life might be on the line. Enemies lurk in Canberra, in Melbourne, and even in quiet Yass, but so do unexpected allies. As Joanne uncovers layer upon layer of Stephen’s decade of lies in the world of espionage, she survives by becoming harder and more ruthless, but will that be enough to defeat the secret forces arrayed against her?
Book 1 in the Bargains and Trades series is a suspense mystery recommended for mature readers interested in spies and espionage. The Corrieva Contract is set in contemporary Australia
Christmas in Canberra by Nicole Taylor
At 28 years of age, Louise finds herself the last of the girls in her family to have a family of her own – and she is the eldest! Finding herself excluded from family events, she decides to develop other friendships, and her career, and look for a nice man. But her boss has other ideas and does not see a promotion in Louise’s future. And her friends don’t seem any closer to achieving grown-up goals than she is. In fact, none of them even want to get married! There are three men who interest Louise. Gorgeous Gordon from Sydney; cranky Chris at work; and alluring Aidan from – the “other side”! Louise is an accountant with the Australian Tax Office while Aidan is an accountant in a public accounting firm. Professionally they are adversaries so any alliance looks doomed. While Louise is trying to sort out her life, the people around her are having problems of their own. The family is forced to unite for a meal and the Christmas of 1988 is set to be a memorable one!
Snake Bite by Christie Thompson
Jez is seventeen and lives with her alcoholic single mum in in a government rental in Canberra’s outer-suburbs, with little money or future prospects. As well as suffering from terminal boredom, Jez has got epic First World Problems: where is her next pill coming from, what will her first tattoo be, and how will she ever lose her virginity? Recently Jez has been having weird feelings about her best friend, emo kid Lukey – is she just bored or does she really want him? And if she makes a move on him (how to make a move on him?), will that endanger their friendship? So when effervescent hipster Melbournite Laura moves to town and starts making moves on Lukey, what is Jez to do but seek guidance from sexually experienced next-door-neighbour stripper, Casey? At the same time, Jez’s mum hooks up with a local bartender, placing a strain on their already fragile relationship. Over the course of one blazing summer, Jez runs a gauntlet of new experiences and discovers the real meaning of home. Filled with humour, brilliant observations and raw revelations, Snake Bite will sink its fangs into and inject you with its intoxicating venom.
Dead Cat Bounce by Peter Cotton
A federal election campaign is thrown into chaos when a popular government minister goes missing and then turns up dead on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
With Detective Darren Glass and the Australian Federal Police on the case, the investigation into the minister’s murder quickly becomes entangled in a game of high-stakes politics. And all the while, the body count mounts.
Glass’s suspects include some of the most powerful people in the land. With the nation in shock and wanting answers fast, Glass has to negotiate a murky world of shifting allegiances, half-truths, and finger pointing, where everyone has a motive for murder.
And no one is safe — not even the prime minister. As election day nears, Glass risks everything for a breakthrough in the case, and his life is soon hanging by a thread. But if he thought he’d hit rock bottom, he was wrong …
Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra
She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast-food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen—blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched—though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.
Eleven years later she is replaced.
The Apricot Colonel by Marion Halligan
A beautiful man, and all she can do is tinker with his prose
For Cassandra, an editor, books are easy. It’s real life that’s the challenge: it doesn’t sit quietly and let itself be fixed. Right now Cassandra’s life seems far too heavy on the suspense, while the romance is distinctly unconvincing.
But that was before the murders started. And before she suspected that her own name was on the killer’s hit list
Murder, match-making and the dark arts of book editing: The Apricot Colonel is Halligan at her light-hearted best.
Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall
Kate and Harriet are best friends, growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. As daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community. When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. But one moment in McPhail’s hut will change the course of their lives forever.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a stunning debut novel about friendship, love and loss, one that questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.
‘Kate Mildenhall’s impressive debut novel takes an historical case and re-imagines it with such sensitivity and insight that we feel this must be how it truly happened.’
The Point by Marion Halligan
Themes of destruction, loss, and desire are explored in this intricately crafted novel. On a cliff overlooking a scenic lake and city skyline rises an elegant glass confection that is home to the best restaurant in town—The Point. Here, in lamp-lit art deco splendor, the city’s elite come to dine on the delicious concoctions of its celebrated chef. Nearby, in a ferry shelter that no ferry has ever visited, Clovis, an elderly homeless man befriends Gwenyth, a young heroin addict. Clovis and Gwenyth are not part of life inside the posh restaurant—until a man is brutally murdered and the paths of the “haves” and the “have-nots” cross. This entrancing book goes much deeper than surface perceptions, revealing the complexities of human relationships.
Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson
‘All in?’ Kieran pulled me up, and the others followed. We gathered around the bigger tree. No one asked Matty – he just reached up and put his right hand on the trunk with ours.
Kieran cleared his throat. ‘We swear, on these trees, to always be friends. To protect each other – and this place.’
Finding those carved trees forged a bond between Jay and her four childhood friends and opened their eyes to a wider world. But their attempt to protect the grove ends in disaster, and that one day on the river changes their lives forever.
Seventeen years later, Jay finally has her chance to make amends. But at what cost? Not every wrong can be put right, but sometimes looking the other way is no longer an option.
Dead Set by Kel Robertson
Australian Federal Police officer Brad Chen is having a bad time. Recently injured in a hit and run attack, he’s having to lean on crutches and painkillers. The Federal Immigration Minister, Tracey Dale, is having an even worse time. She’s been found brutally murdered in her Canberra flat.
Together with his chauffeur, Kate Malone, Chen travels from Canberra to Sydney and Melbourne investigating the murder and interrogating a series of ex-lovers, estranged friends, collegues and neo-nazis, having the crap beaten out of him by skinheads and mysterious assassins along the way.
Enjoy your literary trip to Canberra! Any books we have missed? Add them in the Comments section below…
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