Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is award-winning writer Alan Carter.
Alan was born in Sunderland, UK, in 1959, and immigrated to Australia in 1991.
His debut novel, Prime Cut, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction in 2010. It was also shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. I reviewed it on Sunday and can see why it was so lauded: it’s a first-rate police procedural.
His second novel, Getting Warmer, was published in the UK by Michael O’Mara Books in February.
Alan works as a television documentary director, and lives in Fremantle, Western Australia, with his wife and son.
Without further ado, here are Alan’s choices.
This is not a single book, but a series. Graham Hurley’s Faraday & Winter series, set in Portsmouth, has been compelling reading (and re-reading) for me since it was recommended by Australian reviewer Graham Blundell. In particular, the paragraph introducing the character of Paul Winter in Turnstone is a classic and I was in – hook, line etc.
Hurley’s evocation of punchy martial city during the New Labour era, the brutal crimes and personalities, the rigorous attention to police procedural detail, the witty dialogue, and the tight plotting captured me for the entire series – I was in virtual mourning when it all came to an end, until I came across the Jimmy Suttle offshoot books. Whenever I’m preparing for another round of crime writing I devour a Hurley book or two as a way of getting into the “zone”.
Cloudstreet was the first novel set in Western Australia that I read after I emigrated here in the early 1990s. It’s a sprawling saga of two working-class families – the Lambs and the Pickles – in a post-war Perth emerging from a small-town delusion of innocence into a realisation of the darkness beneath its surface. In this case, the darkness is embodied by Perth’s first known serial killer, Eric Edgar Cooke, who terrorised the wealthy western suburbs in the 1960s. Both families always at the mercy of the fates – Winton’s “hairy hand of God”. But it’s a book of love, sentimentality, humour and resilience and through it runs Winton’s beautiful flowing prose, his ear for dialogue and his eye for landscape. To have my description of place in Prime Cut described as “Wintonesque” by one reviewer was a particular personal honour.
I read Benang when I was living in Hopetoun and writing Prime Cut. Kim Scott’s novel is set in that same area on WA’s south coast and is about the history of his people who have always lived in that area. Benang captures that haunting, beautiful and sometimes brutal landscape and its people like no other, and the rhythm of the prose gives us a glimpse of another way of experiencing the world. From the sealers kidnapping Noongar women and girls, through to the massacres committed by the settlers, the genocidal eugenics of A.O. Neville, and the casual insults and humiliations of day-to-day existence, it’s a tale of survival which swings between heartbreaking lament, mordant humour, anger and celebration.
Thank you, Alan, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’ve not read the Joe Haraday series but think I need to investigate it — the books sound right up my street; Cloudstreet is an old favourite (and due for a re-read); and I loved Benang when I read and reviewed it about 18 months ago.
What do you think of Alan’s choices? Have you read any of these books?