Peter Graham’s Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century (2013)
If you like true crime, you’ll probably really enjoy this full-length book about New Zealand’s most infamous murder case–the story of how, in 1954, two teen-aged girls (one of whom grew up to be famous crime writer Anne Perry) conspired together to murder one of the friend’s mothers in a desperate bid to prevent their parents from separating them after concerns about the unhealthy effect the friendship was having on the two girls. I read this book last year after we had a conversation about the case at the library–we have all sorts of strange but engrossing conversations at work. Overall, I thought Graham did a good job of presenting the facts in the disturbing case, starting with each girl’s respective childhood up to the murder itself while also covering their very different lives afterward. After you read it, you can always watch or rewatch the 1994 movie made about the case–Heavenly Creatures, which is also noted for providing Kate Winslet’s film debut.
Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds (1977)
If you enjoy multi-generational family epics, give this one a try. Undoubtedly one of Australia’s most famous works of fiction, The Thorn Birds tells the story of the Cleary family and their ranch in the country’s rugged Outback in the early 20th century. Its particular focus is the family’s daughter, Meggie, and her thwarted love for the local Catholic priest, Ralph, who shares her affection but feels unable to reciprocate, partially because of his profession and also partially because of his own ambition.
Markus Zusak’s I Am The Messenger (2005)
I read this quirky YA book from Australian writer Markus Zusak a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely. I am the Messenger follows a bizarre and mysterious set of tasks that deadbeat Australian cabbie Ed must perform. He’s never sure what awaits him every time he receives a playing card with a mysterious address and time written on it–nor does he know who is giving him these cards–but he does know that he is getting obsessed with the whole game, despite his natural inclinations to resist being a hero or really doing much of anything. I really enjoyed this book because I thought Ed was an engaging protagonist and also because the book itself is strange and funny. I will concede that Zusak’s more famous novel, The Book Thief, is probably a bit better quality-wise, but this book is nowhere near as heartrendingly depressing and it is very good in its own right.