Books & Literature

Book Review: Trouble is my Business, by Lisa Walker

trouble is my business

YA: Lisa Walker’s second Olivia Grace novel is another rip-roaring excursion into madcap sunshine noir, with nods to Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, and a flavour of Veronica Mars meets Elmore Leonard.

A fast-paced teenage story about murder, personal choices, and surfing.

Lisa Walker is an Australian author who has written novels for both adults and young adults. The Girl with the Gold Bikini was her sixth novel and Trouble is My Business is the continuing story of Olivia Grace. Walker lives on the north coast of New South Wales and uses her knowledge of the area and her passion for surfing in her novels. She has also worked in environmental communication and as a wilderness guide. Her love of the environment is central to this new story. 

In Trouble is My Business, we once again meet 18-year-old Olivia Grace. She has parted ways with Rosco, an old friend who runs a detective agency, and given up any thoughts of becoming a PI. She has sorted out her priorities. Namely: studying law at university and looking after her little sister at her quirky Nan’s place on the Gold Coast while her wayward parents are living in a Nepalese monastery. But when her best friend Abbey goes missing, presumed dead in Byron Bay, she can’t just sit back and hope someone will find her. So Olivia, who loves a good disguise, decides to go undercover as a hippie chick called Nansea. Nansea is tanned, has pink hair, and trains dolphins. 

Throughout the story, Olivia finds herself continually torn between her priorities and finds herself struggling at uni as she decides what it is she really wants to do with her life. Travelling to Byron Bay for the weekend, she meets all sorts of people who seem to be hiding something and she must work out who is telling the truth as time runs out. 

Walker has once again written a story perfect for the older teenager who loves a good mystery, especially those who are already fans of Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars, and Sherlock Holmes. There are lots of Sherlock Holmes references throughout the story.  

Walker has not repeated themes from her previous novel and it is refreshingly new for those who were fans of The Girl with the Gold BikiniWe still meet the same quirky characters but Walker does not dwell on the past. Rather, her characters have grown and changed. The broad theme of the book is finding your true path in the world and the inevitable personal choices we all have to make. 

Written in the first person, Trouble is My Business is not a teenage novel full of violence and sex. Too many teenage novels assume that all teenagers are ready for these more adult themes. It is refreshingly naïve and we see Olivia struggling with infatuation vs love. Olivia is down to earth and struggling with her inner voices.

A very minor problem with the book is when the author refers to lemon juice revealing a secret message. “My spy set had been my favourite toy when I was her age. I was forever sleuthing around looking for clues. Or writing coded messages in ink that only became visible when I squeezed lemon in them.” In actual fact, lemon juice does not reveal a message; it is used to write the message. This error did not deter from the story, but those knowledgeable in science may notice it. 

However, 250 pages, this novel is an easy read, doesn’t keep repeating information and has no long flowery passages. An enjoyable romp.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: 1 August 2021
RRP: $24.95

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