The first time I read a crime fiction novel from cover to cover was when I was 15 years old. It was "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler. I discovered and read a series of other novels by the same author and found that very few went on to be made into films, much to my dissmay. Most people will remember the characters played by Humprey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, it was their first debut together. They had a good script, played real life characters and their chemistry magnified the drama and suspense, a credit to the novel, a great writer and cast.
Twenty one years later I discover Joan Albarella and this time Nikki Barnes and Dr Ginni Clayton, the role models I know exist in our world and which she has now brought to life alongside many other characters you will come across in both of her books. "Agenda for Murder" has all the ingredients of a good read. It communicates,takes you on a journey as if you were there in Nikki Barnes past present and future. The twists and turns that fate and destiny deal her, from her war torn memories to finding out the truth about herself and Trang, her Mama San, who like her is a survivor.Professor Nikki Barnes, a former Vietnam Army Chaplain did not start out looking to reconcile her past, and she finds herself once more in the firing line, for love, truth and justice but most important for the sake of her friends including old army buddy sergent Mullen. She must find the real killer before he or she strikes again.
Will the healing ever begin for Nikki, not until the debt is paid and "Called to Kill" certainly addresses the balance and again keeps you guessing. This time she has the help of "Magpie" like herself a survivor but this time of the Fauklands war. They both become entangled with the mob as the web of deceit unfolds, their past does too. Their lives are in danger as they continue to search for Celine's killer. Unlike Bogart she does get the woman in the end, but does she? The circle is still incomplete and will Trang ever show up again?
I look forward to the next novel and I am sure there will be. I hope those of you out there who appreciate a good read, will in turn support my view and do Joan Albarella justice by agreeing that her novels too are worthy and should be adapted for the screen. She is a writer of real people,of characters that can't help but move you, that one can identify and connect with, and she does so with humour and without alienating her readers.
I hope to see more Joan Albarella novels reach the shelves here in the UK. There is an agenda and I shall be called to cry if you fail to recognise the talent this new writer has to offer.