Marion Halligan






Marion Halligan
Allen & Unwin, January 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

A flat tyre strands Cassandra on the side of a busy road. Most cars just whiz by, but one eventually stops and a “he-man” gets out and changes the tyre for her. Something about him makes Cassandra a bit nervous once he has finished. She hastily gives him a business card and drives off. She has an appointment to edit a book written by Colonel Marriott, known as the Apricot Colonel because he wins all the local agriculture shows with his pickled, spiced and conserved apricots.

When Cassandra returns home to Canberra she learns that a close friend, Tamara, has been murdered. It was Tamara’s business card, with her home address and number, that Cassandra had given her rugged rescuer. Could she be the intended victim? Cassandra decides to try to find the murderer before he finds her.

THE APRICOT COLONEL is Australian author Marion Halligan’s nineteenth book. The setting is Canberra in 2003, a time when the bushfires destroyed so much of the outer edges of town. A light-hearted novel, it doesn’t quite make it as a laugh out loud story. The strength of THE APRICOT COLONEL is well rounded characters. There isn’t much of a plot but the author had me drooling with her descriptions of food. The light-heartedness came in the form of witty asides and off-track meditations. But, and for me it is a big but, I struggled with the fact that there was no punctuation for the dialogue - and there was a lot of dialogue. I found it distracting and annoying, especially as the character was supposed to be an editor picking up the punctuation errors in other people’s novels.

Cassandra is a single thirty-something woman, and a likeable character who describes herself as ordinary. She is comfortable with books; it is real life that gives her problems. The events in the story force her out of her self contained little world and adds a romance along the way. Not being familiar with any of Halligan’s previous work, I am unable to comment as to whether this is her typical style. However, the book is worth reading if you want a book that is easy to read – I recommend it as travel reading.

First reviewed for Murder and Mayhem March 2006


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