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BLACK SKIESArnaldur Indridason, trans. Victoria Cribb, Harvill, $32.95
Nanjing Night Net

Indridason is perhaps the best crime writer alive. His beat is Iceland and, for the past two books, he has banished his detective, the gloomy Erlendur. The subordinates take centre stage: here, it’s Sigurdur Oli. A favour to a schoolfriend results in a murder case; at the same, time a parallel plot of child abuse unfolds. It ends with foreboding. Masterful as ever.

IGNORANCEMichele Roberts, Bloomsbury, $29.99

Roberts is one of the most skilled authors in expressing the world of the senses. This new novel, of village France, is full of textures and tastes. Two girls, Jeanne and Marie-Angele, grow to adulthood and different fates during World War II. Jeanne has Jewish ancestry, Marie is bourgeois. They share convent school life and its sexual prudery. When war comes, the pair find themselves in a world where betrayal and survival become intertwined. Roberts presents a past so vividly recalled it is almost tangible. A feast.

EVOLUTION IN A TOXIC WORLDEmily Monosson, Island Press, $49.99

Once, oxygen was toxic to life on Earth. The planet evolved and now the element is essential. Scientist Monosson considers toxins, how they affect DNA and how the response has powered evolution. Humans are now the biggest influence on the planet. Industrialisation has flooded the biosphere with new toxins and evolution may be unable to adapt. A wake-up call, but more for the science specialist than the general reader.

BOOK THAT CHANGED ME: Gabrielle Williams

SEAN AND DAVID’S LONG DRIVESean Condon

Sean’s a good friend of ours, and I was working with him at the time that Lonely Planet gave him an advance to write his first book. It made me realise that real people write books (I’m not sure, exactly, who I thought wrote them before this point: author fairies, I suppose). Seeing Sean’s hilarious sense of humour laid out on the page was very inspiring to me.

Gabrielle Williams is a Melbourne young-adult author who has worked in recording studios, advertising and television. Her latest novel is The Reluctant Hallelujah, Penguin, $19.95.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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