Book Review – Eco Worrier

Eco Worrier: A very funny adventure for 9-13 year olds (Marty Marsh Book 1) by [Ian Slatter, Paul Winward]

Eco Worrier by Ian Slatter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

12 year-old Marty hates politics; it’s all so very boring. And with his mother as the Prime Minister of the UK, he’s surrounded by it. Not only are politics boring, but so is living at 10 Downing Street, especially when you can’t come and go as you please. When the head of security tells Marty about a secret passage leading to the outside, Marty decides his home might not be so boring after all. Especially if he can leave. When Marty accidentally leaves a pen in the Cabinet Office (which also happens to be a listening device) he overhears some interesting plans. Now he has some decisions to make.

Eco Worrier by Author Ian Slatter is a fun and engaging story. While it is for children between the ages of 9-13 years, adults will enjoy it too. It is well written and comical. The characters are likeable and the villain is unscrupulous. I certainly recommend this book to pre-teen readers and to adults who like a clever story.

View all my reviews

Recharging with Nature

It has been awhile since I posted anything other than a book review or an interview. I’ve thought about posting something, anything, but haven’t gotten around to it. I am trying to balance work life, with home life, and writing life. With the pandemic, it has all rolled into one, and the lines have blurred.

Since the end of March, I’ve been working from home. I don’t mind it. The commute is short. I don’t have to get up as early, and I can wear whatever I want. But I miss my co-workers, going out for lunch to my favourite places, and a few other things.

I am grateful though that I live in a rural area. In the summer, I spent my lunch hour in the garden. This fall, taking pictures of the birds visiting the feeders brings me peace, and the chickadees are now feeding from my hand.

So, while I’ve procrastinated with all things to do with writing, I’ve been enjoying nature and recharging my soul.

Book Review – Yield by B.J. Tiernan

Yield by B.J. Tiernan

Yield by B.J. Tiernan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yield is the story of Marley Cover, a young woman living her teenage and adult years in Florida in the 60’s and early 70’s.

Sexually abused by a babysitter before Marley is even school-aged, the tragic event sets the stage for her promiscuous teenage years. Later, Marley marries Peter. He is handsome and good to Marley. She loves him, but she’s not in love. She’s not even sure what that feels like, until she meets Peter’s best friend, Warren. And when Peter is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, he asks Warren to take care of his family.

Secrets abound in this wonderful story by B. J. Tiernan, and I loved every page. Had I the time, I could have easily curled up, shut out the world, and read it over a weekend. Everything about this story is captivating from the details to the characters.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about love, loss, and strength.

View all my reviews

Book Review – Moonshadow by Joy Lynn Goddard

Moonshadow by Joy Lynn Goddard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After learning about her grandfather’s, Albert Cowden, failing health, budding journalist, Lauren Prescott and her mother, spend the summer at the Cowden’s residence. But when Lauren arrives, her grandfather has more than just household duties planned for her at the sprawling 6000 square foot lakeside home. Albert wants Lauren to find his long-lost love, Rose Hill, an indigenous girl he fell in love with when he was in high school. Armed with nothing but Rose’s diary and the stories her grandfather has told her, Lauren has a mystery to unravel. What became of this young woman who’d once saved her grandfather’s life and then escaped the abuse she suffered at a residential school? And what other secrets lie hidden?

It has been some time that I’ve read a story that I could not put down, that made me angry, that had me utter “Wow!” at the end of chapters, and that brought tears to my eyes. Moonshadow is that story. Though a work of fiction by author, Joy Lynn Goddard, the story about the suffering, abuse, and mistreatment of indigenous peoples in Canada at residential schools is all too real.

This is a well written, fast paced novel, with characters you will love and others you will hate. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, turning the pages, as you learn the truth. I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

Book Review – Death Most Wicked by Suzi Albracht

Death Most Wicked by Suzi Albracht

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Homicide detective, Mikael Ruskov, has his hands full with two cases. First, there’s the gory murders where all that remains of the victim is a goopy mess. Then there’s the kidnapping of young girls who sadly end up dead. But as Mikael digs deeper, he soon realizes the cases are linked.

This book starts off with a creepy vibe, and I wondered if it was something I should read at night. But the further along I read, the more I got wrapped up in the story, and it turned out to have just the right amount of horror (if that makes sense). I quite enjoyed this supernatural, crime thriller. It is well written and has an interesting story line. The characters are well developed and their personalities came through in the writing. I could easily visualize (though sometimes wish I couldn’t) the scenes described in the book.

Death Most Wicked is the first book of The Devil’s Due Collection by Suzi Albracht, and the first book I’ve read from this author, but it won’t be my last. I need to know what happens next as the story continues in the next book of this series.

View all my reviews

Book Review – Enlightened by Billie Kowalewski

Enlightened by Billie Kowalewski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

Harmony is a soul, and like her classmates, she travels to Earth, leaving her memories of home behind. While on Earth, she and her classmates are born into humans to learn their lessons. For them, Earth is school. But Harmony has just figured out something about herself and the connection she shares with Kaleb, another student. For as long as she can remember, she and Kaleb have always found each other on Earth. If only Kaleb would discover their bond before something terrible happens.

I was immediately intrigued by the unique premise of this story. And the following quote within the first few pages caught my attention “A wise person once told me: All good things must come to an end. Respectfully, I have to disagree. All stories have a beginning, but the best stories start at an end.” The story is well-suited for young adults, and there are few spelling or grammatical errors. Chapters are short making for a quick read.

While I enjoyed the story, there were some technical issues which interrupted the flow. There were two or three chapters devoted to Harmony and Kaleb expressing their love for one another. I felt one chapter was enough to get this point across. About three-quarters through the book, the POV changed from first person told from Harmony’s perspective to first person POV told through Kaleb. The change was a bit jarring, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Kaleb’s head and not Harmony’s. This change was only for one chapter and reverted back to first person as told by Harmony.

Despite these issues, this was a sweet story with likeable characters and good world building. I will read the next book in the series as I need to know what happened.

View all my reviews

Book Review – The Himalayan by Ronald Bagliere

The Himalayan by Ronald Bagliere

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In April 2014 an avalanche on the Khumbu Icefall, a section located between Everest Base Camp and Camp 1, killed sixteen Sherpas. One of them was Da-wa, Frank Kincaid’s expedition lead guide and friend.

Over the years as an Everest Expedition operator, Frank has made some bad decisions, but this last one cost Da-wa his life. Frank has to live with the guilt, but maybe there’s something he can do to help Da-wa’s family and the others.

When Sarah Madden calls, a woman Frank fell in love with three years earlier, she suggests a fundraiser. And not only does she suggest it, she’s going to come to Nepal and organize the event. While Frank is happy for the help and thinks the fundraiser is a good idea, he also wonders if having Sarah there is such a good idea. When Sarah arrives, Frank is suddenly unsure of their relationship.

The Himalayan is the second book of the The Hearts of Nepal series by Ronald Bagliere.

As with the first book in the series, I very much enjoyed this story. It is well written and the author has a way of making you love his characters. This story made me laugh and cry. If you enjoy books with adventure, amazing detail, wonderful characters, and an emotional journey, you will enjoy this story.

View all my reviews

Book Review – Earthbound (Chronicles of the Maca #1)

Earthbound by Mari Collier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars

Zebadiah L. MacDonald is Irish, and he’s an alien marooned on Earth in 19th Western US just before the Civil War. After a brawl in a frontier town tavern, Zeb befriends a German man named Rolfe. Together the two of them make plans to head to Texas. After all that’s where the spaceship, The Golden One, is buried and Zeb has plans to purchase the land so he can keep the spaceship a secret. But Rolfe tells Zeb that to travel to Texas will be dangerous. And before Zeb can purchase any land, he will need to make money. Rolfe offers him a job helping him trap and trade fur until they have enough money to travel.

Earthbound is the first book of Chronicles of the Maca a sci-fi western series by Mari Collier. The concept of this book is interesting. It is well written and the chapters are short, which makes for a quick pace. While I enjoyed this story, there were dialect issues that pulled me a way. I found the “twill” in Zeb’s Irish accent inaccurate therefore distracting as well as the ‘mitt’ for the German accent for the word with. This would have been better written as ‘vis’ as in “come vis me”. The rest of dialects/accents were well done. The book also fell a bit flat for me in the last few chapters, but I will admit that I had put it down for a number of weeks before resuming the story so this may be because of that.

I will definitely read the second book as I do want to know what will happen next.

View all my reviews

New Release from Author Pete Adams

Author Pete Adams joins me today to discuss his upcoming release Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun.

SJJ: Thanks for joining me, Pete. Can you tell our readers what genre(s) does your new book fall under?

PA: Crime thriller, but really is:

An au courant, romantic comedy, crime thriller with scary bits. A droll and saucy insight into the Middle Class, Haute Monde and, Geography. Tales of a reclusive England with: The Journalist, The Professor, The Synchronised Swimming Instructor, The Fish Wife, The Dame, The Actress (really Jack Austin), The Geography Teacher, The Gossip Columnist, The Spy, The Police Inspector, The Man from the Council, The Priest, The Knight, The Super-grass (deceased), The Gangster, and, The Lady Blanche.

SJJ: Wow! That’s quite the list of interesting characters and obviously a multi-genres novel.

Are these genres ones you usually write under or are you trying something new?

PA: My books are crime thrillers – The DaDa series is essentially this but with brass knobs on. An idiosyncratic development of the miniseries ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ (5 books)

The DaDa Detective Agency is a cosy crime series with amusing notes:

Dadaism was an arts movement that flouted the conventional by producing works marked by incongruity.

The DaDa novels have an idiosyncratic narrative, the intention being to create a DNA spiral of the real and surreal narratives, but there is a rational design with a significant and satisfying, ending.

The central protagonists in the Kind Hearts and Martinets, miniseries, an elderly DCI, Jack (Jane) Austin and Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce, have a growing following and, it was suggested I develop them into a new series. It has also been said, more than once, that Mandy and Jack are akin to a modern day Jeeves and Wooster; not intentional, but too tempting to ignore. Jack Austin (a cockney Wooster), and the more adroit and decorous and, definitely stronger, Amanda (Jeeves), retire from the police and establish the DaDa Detective Agency.

Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real”, and the DaDa Detective Agency books are strangely, real.

SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?

PA: It is for readers who enjoy crime stories that have intricate plots with a satisfactory conclusion, but also develop a thread to continues over several books – this is book 1, I have written book 2 (to be published soon) and book 3 is at the editing stage, book 4 – the start is sketched.

I am currently writing my 13th book and although there are various different series, all can be related to each other. In other words, there are familiar characters and plot references so readers will get that ‘Oh yeah’ feeling – an alternative angle on narratives elsewhere, previous support characters now in lead roles etc.

SJJ: When do you expect your new book to be released?

PA: This book is out on 19th August 2020.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

PA: Blurb:

Cataclysmic events have occurred in the decorous upper middle class enclave within Southsea, Portsmouth, on the south coast of England.

But what were the circumstances that contributed to this violent clash involving a Sherman tank and a bazooka? The strange occurrence is investigated by Lord Everard Pimple, a naive, upper class twit who not only inadvertently opens a can of worms, but has an introduction into the world of womanly wiles.

Everard’s life is about to blow up like an atom bomb… he just doesn’t know it yet. But after the dust settles, will he still be standing?


Here is a response from a beta reader who has also read and reviewed all 5 books of the Kind Hearts series:

Road Kill marks the first book as we step away from Pete Adams’ ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. In some ways it is a big step, in other ways small. Imagine a person with long legs taking small steps – that’s the kind of thing!

The first thing you note is a gentle shift in the characters. No longer are we are in the orbit of Jack/Jane/Dick Austin and the Community Policing department in Portsmouth. We are certainly in the same universe, the same city in fact but our points of reference for the majority of this book are new characters. Pimple is as inadvertent a main character as you will ever meet, a court reporter for the local Portsmouth newspaper, given a tip-off about a big story and following it in the hope of his big break.

The one thing that you will not get in this book is travel. The author cleverly sets almost three-quarters of the book in a single house in Frisian Tun; the road Jack and Amanda Austin reside on and saw so much military firepower in the previous series! The story unfolds as the occupants of the house try to explain to Pimple and his glamorous colleague, Cecilia Crumpet what has happened and their part in it. This approach to storytelling is great fun, with the personalities of the different storytellers becoming more pronounced throughout the story.

Everyone will have their own favourite. Whether it’s Aedd, the geography teacher with the wandering accent, the wandering hands of Georgiana Lovebody – the synchronised swimming teacher, the Professor daydreaming about goatherds, or Dame Pimple herself! In truth, the bickering, the personal relationships and slow destruction of the room add a huge amount to the story and make it a fun read.

One other change I would comment on is that Pete Adams has utilised a different writing style for this book compared to the previous books in the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. Throughout the book the author makes asides to the reader directly. Whilst this starts as a surprise, it almost becomes its own subplot allowing the author to ponder on characters and their behaviour without interfering with the story’s narrative.

This is the first book of Pete Adams’ DaDa detective agency (Jack/Jane/Dick and Amanda/Duck’s) retirement venture, and it feels like we are in for another fun ride. If you enjoyed the first series then DaDa should be savoured.

Ryan (Debs)

SJJ: This sounds like an interesting read!

Where does the story take place?

PA: Portsmouth – south coast of the UK

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

PA: It is a natural sequel the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets series’. The real and surreal narratives enable me to stretch plots but always with the reader seeing it in ‘reality’ – in other words, it is believable; just. This is what I like to do as an author – to expand comprehension but not to slip into ‘fantasy’ – well, maybe a little bit?

SJJ: What kind of research was involved in writing this story?

PA: None – It comes out of my head – not sure what that says about me?

SJJ: (Smiles) A great imagination.

Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

PA: I find all of my writing a challenge / difficult – it requires immense concentration to control complexity of the storylines I create and over many books but, I love it. I am almost obsessed by it.

Alison Baille, author said this “Pete Adams writes clever twisty tales, eccentric characters, crackling dialogue, a talented writer who has complete control of his material”

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

PA: I love titles. I more often than not have the title before I start the book. The title inspires me. With ‘Road Kill’ it was the following on from an unlikely (but believable) pitch battle in an upper middle class street. The sub-title: The Duchess of Frisian Tun – is an elusive character, in the ilk of John of Gaunt’s wife, ‘Lady Blanche’ from the Kind Hearts series – for those perceptive enough, you may see that it is also an extrapolation of Chaucer’s Pilgrims Progress, but in a story where the characters do not go anywhere; it is mainly set in one room of one house.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

PA: My Publisher uses Mint – I love it

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

PA: From the Prologue:

Before and After – What follows is before, and then, afterwards, is after. Not afters, as that would be a dessert, say, apple crumble and custard. Suffice to say this is a scary story when you get to the after bits, especially if the custard has gone cold. You, the innocent reader, will be lured into a sense of a secure world of haute-monde and geography and, when you are least aware – Bam!

Warning – What was lovely, could turn ugly. Not Jack Jane Dick Austin, because he was already ugly. However, his wife, Mandy, Duck, Austin, well, she is lovely but, can turn ugly even when Dick had done absolutely nothing wrong, like say, blow up an idyll, kill some gangsters an shit…

SJJ: I can see why that would be one of your favourites

Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

PA: I often think about this and it is difficult to select something that was special to me. I do find that with all of my books, scenes and especially the emotions I felt when I wrote them, return and I relive them in my head. For instance in book 12, there is a scene that even now makes me cry.

Road Kill is largely humorous but as Peter Ustinov said, “Comedy is a funny way of being serious.”

However, in Road Kill, I do love the innocent posh junior reporter being lured into taking on a dynamite story by the luscious sex bomb journalist Cecelia. In many ways the story is about the growth of this boy into manhood but in all of my stories, as in all of my life, it is the strong female characters that drive the plot and this scene, and this book, is no different.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

PA: All of my books have a message of social justice, fairness. This book not so much, because it is tee’ing up for the sequel, where the messages are built into the narrative; I love it when you find a book that you read and know you have to read the next one and the next…

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

PA: This is difficult to say. I can never work to a deadline and I am always 2 or 3 books in front of my Publisher. I have 3 books written and submitted and now under contract with my publisher. I have 3 further books completed (I continually return to edit and rewrite sections) and another 2 books that are started and at various stages – again they are linked back to the previous 3 and so, it is a mobile feast.

Whilst writing this book one of the part characters, ‘The Man from the Council’, suggested himself as a lead in the DaDa book 3, just completed and editing, called ‘Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport’.

If I had to guess, I would say Road Kill took about a year, but during that time I was also pushing on with the sequel ‘Rite Judgement’.

SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?

PA: I have done this before and invariably I forget it. In my 3rd book the editor removed a whole chapter and when I objected, she showed me how it didn’t work and suggested I make a short story of it.

I find that nowadays, as I have become more experienced, I edit in a tougher way myself, before the publisher’s editor input, as I am writing and so, I can say, in Road Kill, there are no scenes that were not, in my view, important. I also write a sequel as I am going along and because I am under no deadline pressure, I can go back a book, or even two, and change things so the storyline tee’s up something that happens in latter books and, I have to say, I love it when that happens, when it all starts to hang together.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

PA: Oh that is tough. I have a male central protagonist, but as I mentioned above, the female characters I use are strong and I love developing those. What is interesting is that not everyone picks up on the fact that the female characters play such a big role in the plotting.

If I had to choose, then Amanda Austin, the wife of Jack Austin.

I do not have a least favourite because even the villains I enjoy writing and, every character plays a part. It is because of this that I commence a new series with previously sidelined characters playing a more central role.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

PA: I have been asked this many times and my feelings change, but for the character Jack Austin, I would choose Geoffrey Rush. For Amanda Austin, this is difficult but often I settle for Abigail Thaw.

SJJ: As this book is part of a series, can you please provide a list to the other novels.

PA: Here is the list: as I have mentioned, all the books are interrelated in plot references, even Larkin’s barkin’ which is set in 1966, has references that aficionados of my books would read as an ‘oh yeah’ moment, as something happens that recurs at a later date and in another book

Books by Pete Adams – Published or, written and under contract or, completed and editing or, commenced

The Kind Hearts and Martinets mini-series (5 books): all published

Book 1 – Cause and Effect – Vice Plagues the City

Book 2 – Irony in the Soul – Nobody Listens like the Dying

Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – In dead Flat major

Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll – Spectre or Spook

Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins

The Dada series:

Book 1 – Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun – Published 19th August 2020

Book 2 – Rite Judgement – Heads Roll, Corpses Dance – submitted and under contract.

Book 3 – Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport – written, Publisher aware – editing.

Proposed Book 4 – Hosanna (sub-title to be decided) – commenced

The Rhubarb Papers series:

Book 1 – Dead No More – Rhubarb in the Mammon – submitted and under contract

Proposed book 2 – A Misanthrope’s Toll – Spanish Practices – Sub Rosa to be started.

The Larkin’s Barkin’ series:

Book 1 – Black Rose – A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah – submitted and under contract.

Proposed book 2: A Deadly Queen, 4 Wars – George George and George are deadLong live Queenie – commenced.

The Avuncular Detective series:

Book 1 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar PART ONE – Seven Fingers – written, publisher aware.

Book 2 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar – PART TWO – A Choir of Assassins – Commenced

PS – I’m loving writing this series and the term ‘an Avuncular’, is used by Agatha Christie – the word avuncular meaning, an advisor or a consigliere in this context

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?


SJJ: To learn more about Author Pete Adams and his newest release, you can follow him on his blog tour.

Author Bio

Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some ten years ago and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his thirteenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales (seeking a publisher).

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete’s Links:

My Facebook book Page:

The Kind Hearts and Martinets series:



Beyond the Story – Black Cloud

Black Cloud

How many lives can one incident shatter?

For one Daylesford cop, this will be their last callout. Another may not make it. A third will call it quits.

Black cloud on a winter’s morning signals what nobody could’ve seen coming. An anything-but-routine welfare check by two Daylesford police officers at a farm in Korweinguboora. A fatal house explosion that leaves a rural community reeling.

Local cop John Franklin and Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey are among the first responders at the property. The crime scene is compromised by fire and tonnes of water, and speculations run rife. Murder–suicide? Accident or sabotage? An isolated incident or just the beginning?

As lives hang in the balance, Franklin seeks answers and someone to hold accountable while Georgie investigates her toughest story yet. But will one of them crack?

I am happy to have a visitor today from the crime thriller novel Black Cloud by Sandi Wallace. Let’s find out a little about our guest.

SJJ: Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

JF: Hi! Most people just call me Franklin, but for the record, I’m Senior Constable John Franklin, thirty-eight years old, and I live in Daylesford in Victoria, Australia. That’s an inland country town in what’s known as the spa or mineral springs region about an hour and a half from Melbourne. We have a permanent population of 2000-odd people, but that number regularly swells with influxes of tourists.

SJJ: It’s nice to meet you, John… Franklin. Thanks for taking the time for this interview.

How would you describe your personality?

JF: Words are more my girlfriend Georgie’s thing—she’s a journo—but I’ll give it a go. I’m a country bloke. A cop. Some people call me maverick because I am inclined to investigate and handle things my way, rather than necessarily toe to bureaucracy. I guess I am loyal, tough and enjoy a beer, but I don’t fit the dysfunctional hard-bitten, hard-drinking stereotype of a cop, though I can be cynical. I’m single dad to my teenage daughter, Kat, which complicates life, and I probably show my softer side mostly to her and Georgie. Like everybody, I’m flawed and make mistakes.

SFF: So, as you’ve already mentioned, you’re a cop, but can you give us a little more detail about your current occupation.

JF: I’m a senior constable with Victoria Police and currently on secondment with the crime investigation unit (CIU) in Bacchus Marsh. Whether or not I’ll ever be offered a permanent gig as a detective remains to be seen. But I’ve been keen to trade the blue uniform for plain clothes for several years now.

SJJ: Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

So, what do you think is the biggest obstacle preventing your from achieving your goal?

JF: Last September, some of our local kids went missing from a camp in Mount Dandenong that I’d organised, along with my sarge, Lunny, and our proby officer, Sam. It was a life-and-death situation, and these were our kids and our responsibility. Without disclosing any further details of that case (you can find out more in Into the Fog), it’s been a push me–pull you with my district inspector and his ideas for my future ever since. At the start of the day on Wednesday 13 June, if he offered me a permanent gig with the Ds, I would jump at it. By the end…

SJJ: Tell us, Franklin, are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

JF: Plenty—good and bad. It’s the worst times that make us or break us. This case is the worst ever, it’s personal, so it’s going to be one of those defining moments you mention.

SJJ: What about regrets? Do you have any?

JF: Marrying young and ending up a divorcee with sole responsibility for our baby and an unrenovated cottage with a huge mortgage wasn’t how I wanted things to turn out with my first wife. But if we hadn’t gone there, Kat wouldn’t be here. Really, I try not to get bogged down with regrets, but aim to avoid the same mistakes and do better. Sometimes easier said than done though, isn’t it?

SJJ: Most definitely.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

JF: Rather than one moment, can I just say the birth of Kat and her achievements, and her intention to follow my footsteps and become a cop, though it also terrifies me?

SJJ: Of course you can say that. Being proud of your child is wonderful and what parent isn’t terrified at times?

What’s your idea of the perfect day?

JF: The opposite to Wednesday 13 June. On that day, two of my old colleagues from Daylesford Police are at a farm in the small town of Korweinguboora when they get caught up in a gas explosion and house fire. Me and Marty Howell, my partner in CIU, are first responders to the callout. It’s a horror day. These two are my mates. And there’s a family of four and a nurse also involved. Worse still, we don’t know what we’re dealing with yet. Murder–suicide? Accident or sabotage? An isolated incident or just the beginning?

SJJ: Wow! I think any day would be better than that.

What do you do for fun?

JF: Time with Kat and Georgie comes first, though the job has a tendency of getting in the way. But among my other interests, I tinker with or take a ride on my Kawasaki Ninja, hit the local boxing studio, down some beers or shoot pool with my mates at the pub, and watch the footy, either local level or Aussie Rules. Throwing a line in at my favourite fishing spot always softens the edges—though catching a fish is a bonus.

SJJ: And finally, Franklin, what are your plans for the future?

JF: I can’t think beyond this case right now. My focus is to find the truth, answers for those left behind, and someone to hold accountable for this tragedy.

Bio Sandi Wallace

Sandi Wallace’s crime-writing apprenticeship comprised devouring as many crime stories as possible, developing her interest in policing, and working stints as banker, paralegal, cabinetmaker, office manager, executive assistant, personal trainer and journalist. She has won a host of prizes for her short crime fiction including several Scarlet Stiletto Awards and her debut novel Tell Me Why won the Davitt Award Readers’ Choice. Sandi is currently at work on a psychological thriller. She is still an avid reader of crime and loves life in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne with her husband.

Sandi’s Links