All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Trouble Is My Business by Lisa Walker

on August 6, 2021

Trouble Is My Business (An Olivia Grace Mystery #2)
Lisa Walker
Wakefield Press
2021, 258p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}: Olivia Grace, recently retired teen PI, has her priorities sorted. Pass first-year law, look after her little sister, and persuade her parents to come back from a Nepali monastery to resume … well, parenting. But after Olivia’s friend Abbey goes missing in Byron Bay, she can’t sit back and study Torts. It’s time to go undercover as hippie-chick Nansea, in hippie-chic Byron Bay: hub of influencers and international tourism, and home of yoga, surfing and wellness culture, against a breathtaking backdrop, a short drive from Olivia’s Gold Coast home.

Olivia’s looking for answers, with the help of her stash of disguises, the PI skills her irresistible ex-boss Rosco taught her … and a nose for trouble. Her suspects include a hard-core surfer who often argued with Abbey in the surf, a charismatic cult leader and an acrobatic botany student. And then there’s Rosco, officially assigned to the case, and proving impossible to avoid.

I enjoyed the first book in this series so I was quite happy to see that there would be another book featuring Gold Coast teen PI wanna be Olivia Grace. When this book kicks off, Olivia was expecting her parents to come home so she could relinquish a lot of the care of her younger sister Jacq and talk to them about her reluctance to start law and move into PI. That hasn’t happened though so Olivia has left her PI job and started her law degree but it’s all a bit overwhelming, especially taking care of her younger sister. When she hears that her friend is missing, she can’t help but get involved, assuming an alter ego and heading to Byron Bay to investigate what Abbey was up to. She can’t see Abbey, who has disappeared during a night surf, doing this deliberately – there’s definitely some foul play somewhere.

Olivia is stretched pretty thin in this book – she’s undertaking a lot of the general care for Jacq, her younger sister as her Nan, who is sort of supposed to be in charge, is enjoying a resurgence in her love life and social life. Olivia is also studying law at university, which she’s not particularly enamoured with, nor does she feel she really fits in there. She’s behind in the readings already and she’s even further distracted by the disappearance of Abbey, her old school friend. They had a falling out the last time they caught up and now Olivia is desperate to find out what happened to her. She doesn’t believe that Abbey would’ve ever done this deliberately and she’s wracked with guilt too, over their last interaction. She’s also struggling with the disappearance of Rosco from her life – after she told him she would have to leave the PI business, he hasn’t responded to her, which has left her confused and hurt and mourning the loss of him.

Byron Bay is a bit of an enigma I think, to those that might have never visited. It’s a very different kind of town. I grew up a few hours south of there, in a town that is pretty similar (although bigger) but one that has not experienced the sort of metamorphosis that Byron has as money from the capital cities moved in and evolved it into a place that’s almost as expensive to buy in as Sydney. It attracts a lot of alternative types as well as laid back surfers and lots of tourists and Olivia runs the gauntlet of pretty much all of these as she pokes around looking for Abbey, who was living there, studying journalism and getting involved and environmental activism. In order to fit in around Byron (and perhaps give herself a shot of confidence) Olivia adapts an alter ego to do her questioning and she hears this alter ego’s voice constantly, encouraging her to keep going even when it seems like she’s not getting anywhere in finding out what happened to Abbey. Olivia is pretty good at stumbling into things, she noses out a lot of relevant information – she has a ‘knack’ for this sort of work.

I really enjoyed the interactions between Olivia and Rosco in this book – in the beginning he’s basically absent but they have this weird way of communicating which is quite funny and then he has a habit of popping up quite often. There’s a lot of confusion about their status and I enjoyed the way everything played out. Olivia got to experiment a bit with who and what she wants and the confusion of their lack of contact is cleared up in a satisfying way.

It’s funny but as I grow older, I often end up identifying with the parents sometimes, in YA novels. I’m obviously not the target market for YA anymore, although I do still really enjoy reading it as there wasn’t a lot of variation in YA when I was that age. However in this novel – firmly in Olivia’s camp. I felt it was quite unfair what her parents did and even though there were reasons, they left far too much on her shoulders. She’s only eighteen and if it had been just her, I think her parents’ choices might’ve been more understandable but Jacq is only seven and it’s neither their grandmother’s job (who has already raised her child/ren and is loving her current stage in life) nor Olivia’s job to devote so much time to raising Jacq, who at that age, really needs stability and her parents around. This is made even more clear when Jacq reveals her actions at the end of the book and you can see why she did it and how much she must be struggling with the current arrangement and how frightened she was.

I thought this was a great second instalment in what looks to be a really promising YA mystery series with a very believable protagonist.


Book #137 of 2021

Trouble Is My Business is book #57 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2021

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