Shoot Through by J M Green, Book Review: Dark & deadly humour

In Shoot Through, J M Green’s third book in her highly successful crime series, Stella Hardy the wisecracking social worker, is back to tackle crooked private contractors, an exotic cattle scam, and a delicious Mushroom Jalfrezi.

Shoot Through - J M Green, Stella Hardy 3Shoot Through (Stella Hardy #3) Synopsis:

All Stella Hardy wants is a romantic country getaway with her artist boyfriend, Brophy. Instead, she must head to the Athol Goldwater Agricultural Prison (aka Arsehole Bogwater) to visit her jailbird brother, Ben, and sort out some ‘urgent’ family paperwork. But Stella has barely set foot in the prison when a prisoner, Joe Phelan, is found dead.

Before she knows it, Stella finds herself tasked, against her will, with investigating Joe’s suspicious death away from the eyes of police, including her best friend, Detective Phuong Nguyen. Her old nemesis Minister for Justice Marcus Pugh is pressuring her from above to save his election-year bacon, and Joe’s old friend and former gang member, Percy Brash, is providing a much more chilling form of pressure from below, promising to reduce her to mush and bone fragments if she doesn’t give him the name of Joe’s killer, and soon.

As the clock counts down, Stella becomes embroiled in a story of corruption, conspiracy, and high-tech cattle-wrangling, all while trying to manage her brother’s pregnant girlfriend, Loretta, get to the bottom of Brophy’s increasingly strange behaviour, and evade the murderous intentions of a shadowy mercenary. And then things get really crazy. It’s Stella’s last hurrah, and she’s going out with a bang.

(Scribe Publications, 2019)

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I have been a huge fan of J M Green’s Stella Hardy crime series. I was thoroughly entertained by her debut novel Good Money and felt she lifted the bar even higher with Too Easy (Book 2).

In our interview with Jenny back in 2015, she spoke of her lead character:

In terms of her traits, Stella burst into my psyche as an angry and disruptive influence, in much the same way as she appears in the novel. I often describe her as burnt-out and frustrated and in early days of writing, I imagined myself pitching the novel to publishers saying: you’ll love it; it’s about a middle-aged woman who is tired and emotional – pause – who solves crimes!

I have always thought of Stella Hardy as a ‘modern Australian’ diamond in the rough. She forgives herself for the occasional lapse in judgement, lets her curiosity guide her and is quick to back herself in a fight (quite literally). She exudes guile, resilience and grit, in a similar vein to Shane Maloney’s ‘Murray Whelan’ and Peter Temple’s ‘Jack Irish’.

The night was not exactly young, more middle-aged, but with great skin and a positive attitude.

But in Shoot Through those historic lapses in Stella’s judgement are haunting her. Ghosts of the past are coming out of the woodwork to settle old scores. Could Stella have finally met her match?

Dark and deadly humour

Green has written another edge of your seat thriller. A crime thriller peppered with the desert-dry dark humour I’ve come to love — it is almost as sharp as the knives (and the plethora of other deadly weapons) Stella finds aimed at her back.

But, Shoot Through‘s plotting was looser than I would have liked on occasion, this novel’s execution not reaching the lofty heights of Too Easy.

While not a title I’d necessarily recommend reading in isolation,  Shoot Through is an action-packed conclusion to a much loved Aussie crime series.

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

Get your copy of Shoot Through (Stella Hardy #3) from:

Book Depository | Booktopia(Aus) | AmazonKobobooks | B&N

Genre: Crime-Detective, Thriller, Mystery, Drama, Action-Adventure

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2019 and the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

About the Author, J M Green

J.M. Green is a crime writer based in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Her debut novel, Good Money, the first hardboiled-crime novel featuring Stella Hardy, was shortlisted for a 2016 Ned Kelly Award, the Sisters in Crime’s Davitt Award for best debut, as well as the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. She divides her time between writing in her backyard studio and working as a librarian. Shoot Through is the third in the Stella Hardy series, following Too Easy.

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