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Sharp Shooter, Marianne Delacourt, Tara Sharp, Australian crime, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books, Twelfth Planet Press

Published: May 2016 by Deadlines
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Tara Sharp #1
Genres: Crime, paranormal
Source: Publisher
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~Kobo ~ Smashwords

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tara Sharp can see auras, and its ruining her life.

When she tries to turn her inconvenient secret into a paying gig, her first job lands her in the middle of a tug of war between the biggest, baddest crime lord in town and the hottest business man Tara has ever met.

With only a narcoleptic ex-roadie, her pet galah and a vanilla slice for back up, Tara is ready to take on trouble with a capital T.

WINNER of the Davitt Award 2010 Best Crime Novel and nominated for Ned Kelly Award 2010 Best First Crime Novel

Sharp Shooter is an action-packed crime novel with a dash of the paranormal. It’s a quick, fun read that will particularly appeal to Australian readers.

The paranormal elements are light, restricted to Tara’s ability to see auras. However, the book carries the feel of urban fantasy. Tara has all the necessary feistiness but is more scruffy than polished. In the beginning, she’s a bit of a mess. She recently lost her job, caught her boyfriend in an affair with her flatmate, and is now broke and living with her parents. She is also struggling with her psychic powers. It turns out that the ability to see auras doesn’t automatically come with the ability to interpret them. I loved that Tara still has to find a mentor and learn.

She’s also surprisingly bad at people. Even with her psychic abilities, she misreads intentions. Diplomacy is not her strong suit and she often makes bad decisions. However, while she’s not always the best at respecting other people’s boundaries, she is good at setting her own. This was something I appreciated, particularly during one scene in a limo.

Despite being a reasonably fast-paced book, the story doesn’t launch straight into the action. It takes time to establish Tara’s situation and put her through some training. The beginning feels like a bit of a disaster–appropriately so, as Tara reels from one disaster to the next. It verges on disjointed, but never quite crosses the line, and by the end everything has pulled together.

I was delighted to discover the story was set in Perth and is filled with Australian idioms and cultural references. For example, the story makes reference to the proper way to eat vanilla slice. I don’t think it would be inaccessible to international readers, but I’m not in a position to make a good judgement on that issue. Likewise, I couldn’t say how faithfully Perth was represented, even though it felt authentic to me. The story respected its setting, rather than using it as vague background colouring. I especially appreciated that, unlike some Australian urban fantasy, the story didn’t feature an overabundance of guns.

Readers may want to be warned that the story features a love triangle… and one that so far seems weighted in one direction. However, it was counterbalanced somewhat by Tara’s friendships. She has two childhood friends: one male, one female. It was nice to see a platonic friendship portrayed between the sexes. The female relationships in this book run the gamut from antagonistic to loyal friends, which was nice to see, though I was a little disappointed it tended more towards the former than the latter. Similarly, although the gender balance between the characters was reasonable, virtually none of the women in positions of command. While this may be somewhat reflective of Australian culture, it remains a little bit of a let-down.

However, these are mostly just nitpicks. Overall, I enjoyed Sharp Shooter and found it a refreshing piece of Australian crime.

In celebration of the launch of Too Sharp, the third book in the series, Sharp Shooter is available for free across most platforms until 11 April.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Date: 2017-04-08 03:49 am (UTC)
bunny_m: (raven black)
From: [personal profile] bunny_m
I'm glad you pointed out that the start is rough, because I nearly gave up multiple times. Now that I seem to be getting into the actual plot, things seem to be improving.

It's very clearly a first novel, and the early part, at least, seem to be a strange mix of overly explaining/detailing bits that didn't need more than a passing comment, and skimming over parts that really could have done with more attention.

The grounding of the story in Perth is also a very uneven mix, for this native Perthite, at least. On the one hand, some of it is really firmly set in reality, but then a paragraph or sentence later it goes haring off into unreal details.

Either her descriptions of the geography needed more proof-reading, or it's some uncanny valley version of Perth, different in just some of the details, which makes it even more jarring.

Not least of which are the frequent references to 'Euccy Grove', instead of Peppy Grove*, the actual old-school-upper-upper-class section of Perth, but that's only the most egregious example.

For international readers, I think they'd really miss out on a lot of the character insights into a privileged scion of the Upper Class driving such a revhead/working class car as a 70's Holden Monaro.

I'll try to remember to post my final thoughts once I've finished the book.

(*) Named for all the Peppermint trees. Calling a place here 'Eucalyptus Grove' would be rather like calling it 'Tree Grove', given how ubiquitous they are. It's a bizarre choice.

Date: 2017-04-20 12:50 pm (UTC)
bunny_m: (maglark green speak)
From: [personal profile] bunny_m
Right.

I finished reading Sharp Shooter just before Easter, but was busy Swanconning.

Overall, I felt it was an okay, if still rather rough and patchy first novel, leaving aside the bizarre mix of absolutely grounded-in-reality-details and the randomly made-up-for-no-clear-reason parts. This was exceptionally baffling and annoying for a Perth native.

I find it rather telling that the real places are all in the Western/upper-middle-class to upper-upper-class sections of the city, whilst the made up and massively exaggeratedly poor, and crime-ridden parts are described as, and clearly set in some distorted version of the Eastern/lower-middle-to-dirt-poor section.

And this is even more puzzling, because the main divisions here in Perth aren't eastern/western parts of the city, they are almost all North-of-the-River vs South-of-the-River. Of course, both of those have their own dirt-poor/crime ridden areas, but none are nearly as bad as the book claims.

Then I get to the end of the book and discover that not only isn't this a first novel, (only a pen-name in a new genre for an existing author), but I have read *and enjoyed* some of their other books.

Furthermore, the author's blurb at the end states that the author 'grew up in Perth' but now lives in Brisbane.

Ms de Pierres: You can and have done so much better. Also, your privilege is showing. Perhaps, in future, don't try to ground a modern-day novel in a place you clearly haven't lived in in 40 years.

Grade: F. I am very disappointed in you.

Twelfth Planet Press, and particularly whoever 'edited' this... 'effort': I will be taking this up with you in person, later. And your parents, be assured.

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