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Murder on the Apricot Coast by Marion…

Murder on the Apricot Coast

by Marion Halligan

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Marion Halligan is a Canberra author, and this book is set in Canberra and down the coast where Canberrans go. I love recognising it all. Her writing style is gentle and lyrical, though I do wish she would be a little more conventional and use quotation marks for dialogue. Her character is an editor, she should know better!

This mystery is based around the death of a young woman who has a memoir of working in a brothel ready to publish. Politicians may be implicated in child prostitution and people smuggling. And there's jam to be made, and bad books to be edited, and book launches to attend. It's sweet but not at all saccharine. ( )
  cajela | Jan 16, 2011 |
Recently married to Al, the "apricot colonel", Cassandra Travers is a freelance editor living in Canberra. At a local newsagent, Cassandra meets up with Briony, a pal from university days. When they meet up again a few days later Briony tells Cassandra about her new lover, the love of her life, who just happens to be a married man. He is the father of one of the girls that Briony teaches. And then the girl attempts to blackmail Briony, threatening to tell the headmistress of her father and Briony's affair, unless Briony gives her good grades. And then - you've guessed it - the girl is found dead of a drugs overdose, which begins to look like murder.

I nearly didn't finish reading this. Just when I was on the point of giving it the heave-ho, the plot would take a little turn for the better. The improvements turned out to be illusory, and in the long run I hated it. However if you like chick-lit it may be just your cup of tea. And Marion Halligan has apparently published over 20 books, so I'm prepared to concede that her writing may be well be beloved by others. Perhaps I just missed the whole point of this book.

Near the end Cassandra says " I have this theory, about reading books, it's all to do with rhythm. Sometimes you find yourself in prose that has a rhythm that sometimes suits yours and so you are carried along with your reading of it, it chimes beautifully with your own sensibility. It's like what they call chemistry with a lover. It explains why some people love books that others can't stand." She's so right! - that must be the reason I hated this one. I just don't march to the same drum that Marion Halligan does.

The frustrating thing is that at times, Halligan makes some really insightful comments, mainly of the philosophical kind, that I heartily concur with.

But what in particular did I not like?

* there were side stories that made almost no sense to me. Some were very trivial and added almost nothing to the plot.
* new husband Al likes cross-dressing, passing himself off as woman
* I got sick of the Al loves me and I love him stuff.
* the writing had a gossipy, "I'm telling you a secret", tone to it
* the "apricot colonel", "apricot coast" thing feels like an in-joke - perhaps I would understand if I had started with the first book THE APRICOT COLONEL, which I haven't read, and now have no intention of reading.
* Somewhere along the track Marion Halligan decided to do away with the punctuation conventions of dialogue. You know, those little " things which give you the clue that someone is actually speaking. I don't know whether it is something she has recently decided to do or whether she has been practising it for a long time. But it annoyed the hell out of me and made distinguishing speech from inner thoughts almost impossible.

If you want to "suck and see" before you buy or borrow the book, then you can locate on the Allen and Unwin site. There's also biographical details for Marion Halligan, and a list of 7 other titles available from Allen and Unwin. ( )
  smik |
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"Marion continues to excel at cosy crime in this eagerly-awaited sequel to her bestselling novel, The Apricot Colonel. We pick up the story with Cassandra and the colonel happily ensconsed in a state of newly wedded bliss. Cassandra is editing the latest buzz book about a woman who runs away to Germany to start a white asparagus farm, while the colonel slips off periodically on his secret business. Their domestic idyll is suddenly shattered by the news that the daughter of a dear friend has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose, but neither are convinced her death was an accident. By chance they discover a manuscript on the girl's computer revealing that she financed her university studies doing escort work. When it turns out that the text is in fact an explosive expose of the local child prostitution scene, our detectives don't have far to look for a motive for murdera With characteristic panache and a magnificent wardrobe of women's clothes (his), Cassandra and her colonel set out to find a killer, immersing themselves in the seedy side of our nation's capital. Along the way they also learn a great deal more about each other, revealing new depths to this delightfully unconventional relationship."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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