Jodi Picoult had better look over her shoulder - she's got a new contender by the name of Charity Norman. Second Chances charters the same territory frequented by Picoult as it delves into messy familial relationships and the repercussions of misguided loyalty. This is Norman's second novel and she does a good job exploring the erratic behaviour of characters under stress.
Michael Joseph, A$29.95
Kaitlyn Scott has a new identity and has moved to Queensland to escape memories of a bushfire that claimed several lives, including that of her father. The arsonist responsible was allegedly her husband, who also perished. Kaitlyn soon crosses paths with another name-changer, Ryan O'Donnell, an undercover cop masquerading as a fireman to catch a firebug (rather easily detected, as it turns out). While the narrative is driven along by strong characters, the book is marred by too many coincidences.
That China is Australia's most important trading partner is little disputed, and here David Uren teases out the links in the often-fraught relationship between the two countries. The book covers the past 40-odd years of interactive history, dealing with topics including the wealth generated for Australian mines by China's industrialisation. Uren's tone is measured: ''China is neither the source of endless super-profits, nor the wolf at the door.''
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