GOOD MONEY by J M Green (Stella Hardy Novel #1), Book Review

In Good Money, J M Green introduces fabulous leading lady Stella Hardy – a wisecracking social worker with a thirst for social justice, good laksa, and alcohol.

Good Money Book Synopsis:

Good Money J M GreenStella’s phone rings. A young African boy, the son of one of her clients, has been murdered in a dingy back alley. Stella, in her forties and running low on empathy, heads into the night to comfort the grieving mother. But when she gets there, she makes a discovery that has the potential to uncover something terrible from her past — something she thought she’d gotten away with.

Then Stella’s neighbour Tania mysteriously vanishes. When Stella learns that Tania is the heir to a billion-dollar mining empire, Stella realises her glamorous young friend might have had more up her sleeve than just a perfectly toned arm. Who is behind her disappearance?

Enlisting the help of her friend Senior Constable Phuong Nguyen, Stella’s investigation draws her further and further into a dark world of drug dealers, sociopaths, and killers, such as the enigmatic Mr Funsail, whose name makes even hardened criminals run for cover.

One thing is clear: Stella needs to find answers fast — before the people she’s looking for find her instead.

Set in the bustling, multicultural inner west of Melbourne, Good Money reveals a daring and exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction.

(Scribe Publications)

Genre: Crime-Detective, Thriller, Romance

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That J M Green’s debut novel Good Money was one of three titles shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript comes as no surprise to me. This award has helped unearth some fantastic talent over the years, recent notables include Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project winning in 2012 and the shortlisting of Emily Bitto’s The Strays in 2013 which went on to win this year’s Stella Prize.

Although Miles Allinson’s avante garde Fever of Animals ultimately took out the award in 2014, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award judges identified the special qualities present in Green’s compelling brand of crime fiction.

… An energetic whodunit with a distinct Australian voice, this manuscript features a mélange of characters that jump out from the page.

I was impressed by the cracking pace of Good Money and the tangled and sophisticated nature of the crime and corruption that unfolded.

There were a few connections/associations that seemed a little bit of a stretch, but for me this was a worthy trade-off for an entertaining plot.

All too often marketers use the phrase ‘Australian voice’ and then readers find themselves assaulted by cliches. I revelled in the authenticity of Good Money’s characters and their actions. They are diverse and multi-dimensional, all shaped by variants of ‘the modern Australian experience’ – that of recent immigrants and second-generation Australians, the changing fortunes in rural communities, those caught up in the illicit drug trade and the political and corporate nouveau riche.

Stella Hardy is a narrator and protagonist I look forward to following. Her baggage is heavy (yet entirely plausible) and expectations low. She forgives herself for the occasional error in judgement, lets her curiosity guide her and backs herself in a fight. Her grittiness, guile and resilience, in a similar vein to Shane Maloney’s ‘Murray Whelan’ and Peter Temple’s ‘Jack Irish’ will hold great appeal, particularly for a slightly more mature audience. The humorous observations are understated, typically Australian.

J M Green’s Good Money, is a worthy edition to the list of quality contemporary crime fiction on offer from home grown talent right now.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Get your copy of Good Money (Stella Hardy #1) from:

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This review counts towards my participation in the 2015 Aussie Author Challenge and the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015.

About the Author, J M Green

JM Green studied professional writing at RMIT. Her work has appeared in Overland and she received an honourable mention from the Sisters in Crime Scarlett Stiletto Short Story competition. Good Money is her debut novel. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne and divides her time between writing in her backyard studio and working in public libraries in Melbourne’s west. Find out more at Green’s website and connect with her on Twitter.

* Receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.

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