review: maggie groff, good news bad news

Sometimes a book comes along that is exactly the right read at the right time. When I read Good News Bad News earlier this year, and became lit-friends with the perky heroine contained inside its pages, they were like a balm for my eyes. I’d just read too much that skated right past gritty into unpleasant and/or had pages filled with violence against women, and I’d almost had enough of crime and was thinking of watching Play School reruns to make myself feel better. Then Byron Bay investigative journalist Scout Davis flew out of her pages to save the day.

A trio of reclusive sisters, much gossiped about in town, hire Scout to find a runaway husband who had (apparently) died some thirty years earlier, but whose handsome face shows up in a current newspaper article. Scout is unsure about the proposition—bossy Hermoine is not her usual cup of chai—but she is far too intrigued by the sisters and the mystery to say no. Alongside Scout as a star is the Bay itself, full of endearing characters more than willing to help Scout out with general assistance, delicious food, and petty crimes: so she rounds up her friends and family to take on the case, one eccentric day at a time. Throw in a boyfriend returning from a war zone to a more metaphorical war with another equally handsome man, and the whole book is a delight: it’s sexy, funny, rollicking and, happily, the literary equivalent of a cold drink on a hot day.

 

A version of this review originally appeared in Readings Monthly.