Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reading a book by a foreign author set in a familiar location PLUS Aussie Author Challenge: Book 10

I like mystery/crime books.  I like them a lot.  There was a time when I pretty much only read books that fell into the mystery, crime, thriller, or true crime genres.  Yes, I've expanded my reading horizons, but a good mystery book is still one that I love to curl up and read.  So, I'd been looking forward to finally reading a book from Michael Robotham because he is an Aussie author that I regularly see him mentioned as a recommendation for this genre. 

When I picked up this book, all I knew was the synopsis from goodreads, that it had a 4.05* review on goodreads, and it was about a guy who escapes prison the day before he is set to be released.  Sounds like my kind of book.  But, I made an assumption.  I assumed this Aussie author wrote his books set in Australian locations. 

Lo and behold, on the very first page, I see a reference to "Lake Conroe".  Uhm.  My dad owned a house on Lake Conroe.  Not to be morbid, but my stepmother lost her battle to cancer in this very house after spending late spring and early summer looking out the window at scenes on Lake Conroe.  Is this my Lake Conroe?  Well, yes, yes it is.  I got even more excited to read this book. 
There were many references to areas and locations that I know very well.  The teenage character in this book goes to the very high school that I graduated from.  My intimate knowledge caused me to stumble across a few edit mistakes.  For instance, there is a massive "master-planned" community called The Woodlands.  That's its name...with an upper case "T"...The Woodlands...not just Woodlands, or lower case "t", the Woodlands.  But, hey, I don't want to be pedantic or pretentious. 

So, I saw a few of these minor mistakes.  Then, I saw another.  As seen in the following picture, a passage mentions some girls at a "honky-tonk" (fine, no problem, there are actually bars in Texas that we call "honky-tonks"), but these girls seem to be at a bachelorette party (Aussie "hen's night").  The author says that the assumed bride-to-be is wearing "an 'L-plate' strung around her neck." 

Hold up.  America doesn't have L-plates.  It is safe to assume most Americans don't know what L-plates are.  And, it is even safer to assume that a bride-to-be in a Texas honky-tonk won't be wearing an L-plate around her neck. 

Am I nit-picking?  Is this book, published at an Australian book publisher, is it edited for Australian readers?   Therefore, are changes made to the book for Australian readers, and the American version wouldn't mention L-plates?  I don't know. 

I asked Kristen (our favorite Aussie expat in America blogger booklover) what she thought.  She said:  "you should apply things to where it is set, regardless of where it is published."  I must admit, I agree with her. 

Rachel mentioned something similar to this about a recent book she read written by an American that was set in London (Lovestruck in London by Rachel Schurig).

Okay...................all the edit questions/comments/concerns aside, I liked this book.  I liked the story.  I liked the characters.  I liked the pace.  It wasn't too fast or "thrilling", but it wasn't slow either.  It was good story-telling of a crime & mystery book.  I liked that the author gives the reader some nuggets of clues throughout the book, as if he wants you to figure some things out on your own, and others he wants to still remain a mystery.  In the end, all of the stories are tied together and resolved, and I liked that too.  I will definitely read more from Michael Robotham, and I'd recommend him to others.

One more example, Americans call it a "tank top", not a "singlet".  In fact, it took me a good month or so living here before I even knew what Aussies were talking about when they said "singlet".  If the book is set in Australia, call it a "singlet". If it's set in Texas, call it a "tank top". Am I right?  

Okay.  I'll stop now.  My point was already made, right?  Now, I know I am nit-picking.

Two more to go; I got this!


It's the 7th year for the Aussie Author Challenge, and my 2nd year participating (click on the picture/link to take you directly to the site for more information).  My working book list is as follows:

Female Authors:

Male Authors:

Authors New to Me:


  1. I think that I would totally be nit picky about the book that gets little things like that wrong, especially when I know the material. I think that I agree with Kristen that you have to edit books for the region that they're supposed to be representing. I'm wondering if I'd like this book that much with the little mistakes, especially since I'm from Houston too.

  2. good review! i totally agree that a book should stick to the setting in which it's supposed to be. the back and forth would really annoy me. but i'm glad you liked it!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  3. i really liked that book as well. when you read that book and nit-picked at all those little details, that's pretty much how all canadians feel when we see something about Canada on an US network LOL

  4. Things like that sometimes throw me. I wonder the same thing - if a book is published in America, should it have American slang? I don't know, sometimes to me that makes more sense, because when I come across something that I don't have a reference for, it takes me out for a bit. I just read In a Dark, Dark Wood and that was the first time I'd come across a "hen's night." That one wasn't too confusing once I got used to it, though.

  5. I feel that to maintain credibility, the author should be full ensconced in the setting. From the actual location to the manner of speaking.

    And I have no idea what an L-plate is.

  6. I absolutely believe the language should mimic the setting/character. Otherwise, it immediately takes you out of the story and can become a huge pet peeve. I don't know what an L-plate is (or a singlet until you told me) and would have been very confused. When I read I Let You Go, I had it stuck in my head that story was set somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, so when they referred to a detective or someone as a Guvernor, I was all what the what? I really need to get better at reading book flaps. :)

  7. I read Nelson DeMille books and he references Long Island all the time. Since he lives there, there aren't any inaccuracies, which is nice. I have read a few that allude to or take place in Delaware and it's full of all the wrongs.

  8. I am with you 100%, as you may have guessed from my comment about Rachel Schurig's book! As good as any book is, with clumsy (and really, I think lazy) errors scattered about like that I rapidly lose my patience and I find I really can't enjoy the book at all. How hard is it to find an editor who can proof read for you? Especially if you've been published through an actual publishing house? I'm no expert but surely they have that sort of resource to hand.

    So, I have to ask. What do you put on your cars in the states to show you're a learner driver??

  9. Hmmm this does sound like an interesting book and it is cooled that it is an Aussie writing about an area you knew! What a coincidence! But I agree with you and Kristen....it should be written from where it takes place and those mistakes shouldn't be made. I have no clue what an L Plate is?

  10. I have ran into this when reading books set in America but American authors but being the English releases. They will switch things like mom to mum and sweater to jumpers!

  11. well, you know how i feel about this. the thing is, on top of what i already said, this is just plain confusing. i know what a singlet is, and what an L plate is. and i know americans read australian books all the time, or books set in the UK, so they might know these things, but then there is also american slang in there like honky tonk (the only person i've ever heard use this is Trace Adkins, so..... okay then), so it's like a weird marriage of the two. I just don't get it. Surely there was an editor or someone reading this? like if you wrote a book set in Oz, but you lived in the US, you'd likely ask an Australian to read it? Maybe? I don't know. It just bothers me. I think it bothers me more because someone would read that and be like okay Americans call all bars honky tonks! haha. same goes with weird australian characters in books that all say g'day. *rolls eyes*.

  12. I love that this ended up being set in a location that you are super familiar with! I definitely think you should adapt the language to the location in which the book is set. If it's edited for the audience then they never have the chance to get a real picture of what it's like in the setting.


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