Glen Davis in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales: the shale oil ghost town and its people 1938-1954 by Leonie Knapman

Book Review (submitted by Kay Shirt)

Massive ruins tower in silence above the scrub of the remote and beautiful Capertee Valley. But 60 years ago, streets in Glen Davis bustled with shopkeepers and schoolchildren. Workers hurried to mines and fire-belching retorts that operated day and night to supply the National Oil refinery.

Leonie Knapman was one of these children…. after years of research, she reconstructs the colourful past of Glen Davis, built on the world’s richest oil shale deposits…..

…..This is not just the history of the community and its characters. It also reveals an industry and the technology behind it: the plants, mines and railways, powerhouse, laboratory and pipelines essential to Australia’s pioneer domestic petrol production. (Knapman, L Glen Davis in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales: the shale oil ghost town and it’s people 1938-1954 back cover)

This is a wonderful book with stories, information and a comprehensive history of the community of Glen Davis. It is made even more special by the extensive donation by Leonie to the library of her research files, maps, posters, notes, and letters from contacts.

These include school records, company records, original land grants and some amazing original and copied photographs from the her Glen Davis biographical research.  Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in local, technical, mining and family history.

Leonie Knapman is one of our future guest speakers and is planning a give a talk on her childhood at Glen Davis and her memories and search for a special car with Royal connections that she finally tracked down to a Bowral car yard.

Be Careful What You Witch For by Dawn Eastman

Book Review (submitted by Miriam Scott)

Have you ever wondered at the irony of the naming of the genre ‘cosy’ murder mysteries? What’s so cosy about poison, psychopathic sect members, and psychic gifts that leave you reeling?

Clyde Fortune left a traumatic police career behind to return to her quiet hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan, but her eccentric family, her runaway ‘Dr Doolittle’ nephew and her ‘please can I have him for Christmas’ almost boyfriend have different ideas of the meaning of the word ‘quiet’.

This second of the Clyde Fortune books sees her settled in her inherited home, with her inherited dog and not at all settled with her inherited powers.

The Crystal Haven Fall Festival provides the opportunity for her best friend’s coven to hold a ritual to try to divine the future in a witches’ cauldron, and for a murderer to strike.

Clyde finds that witches are fair game and that if she is to return her life to its semblance of normality she must focus, not only her psychic but, her sleuthing skills, and catch the killer.

Be Careful What You Witch For

JFK: The smoking gun by Colin McLaren

Reviewed by Sharon Lewis

This book is available to borrow from the Lithgow Library Learning Centre

Like a large percentage of the world I am very interested in the conspiracy theories related to the assassination of JFK. There are so many theories about who killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy on the streets of Dallas on the 22 November 1963, that it is hard to separate fact from fiction. However many believe that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone. There has always been suspicion of a second gun, ranging from the Russian mafia to CIA assassination.  But what if it was purely an accident, the result of circumstances? What then? McLaren presents evidence that is compelling and believable, he gives a new perspective on the event that rocked the world and continues to produce theories even today.

This book takes a fresh look at the large amount of freely available evidence, the Warren commission findings as well as the significance of missing evidence and omitted witnesses from the investigative process that occurred immediately after the shooting.  At times the evidence is repetitive but McLaren has examined it with 21st century knowledge of forensics and crime scene investigation. His perspective and ability to connect dots that were missed or deliberately omitted in the initial investigation, paint a very different theory to the crime of the century.  A very plausible account and while sometimes the evidence is restated a number of times it lends credibility to the theory that McLaren puts forward. Well worth the read if you are remotely interested in discovering who killed JFK and it will leave you thinking that he may just be right.


jfk smoking gun



The Guest Cat

The Guest Cat By Takashi Hiraide

Book review (submitted by Bruce Royall)

The guest cat By Takashi Hiraide ; translated from the Japanese by Eric Selland.


A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again. The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. The book won Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, and was a bestseller in France and America.


I was surprised at the lasting impression this short (140 pages) story made on me. A rewarding read. Recommended ****

The author is a poet whose light touch creates a series of refreshing perspectives into people and other animals.

Published 2014 in paperback by Picador

Copy available for loan from:

Lithgow Library Learning Centre, in the Fiction section at F HIR.

The Guest Cat

The Diggers Rest Hotel (Charlie Berlin #1) by Geoffrey McGeachin

Book review (submitted by Peter Tracey)

The Diggers Rest Hotel (Charlie Berlin #1) by Geoffrey McGeachin

In 1947, two years after witnessing the death of a young Jewish woman in Poland, Charlie Berlin has rejoined the police force a different man. Sent to investigate a spate of robberies in rural Victoria, he soon discovers that World War 2 has changed even the most ordinary of places and people.

An ex-bomber pilot and former POW, Berlin is struggling to fit back in, grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the ghosts of his dead crew and his futile attempts to numb the pain.

When Berlin travels to Albury-Wodonga to track down the gang behind the robberies, he suspects he’s a problem cop being set up to fail. Taking a room at The Diggers Rest Hotel in Wodonga, he sets about solving a case that no one else can – with the help of feisty, ambitious journalist Rebecca Green and rookie constable Rob Roberts, the only cop in town he can trust.

Then the decapitated body of a young girl turns up in a back alley, and Berlin’s investigations lead him ever further through layers of small-town fears, secrets and despair.

The first Charlie Berlin mystery takes us into a world of secret alliances and loyalties – and a society dealing with the effects of a war that changed men forever.

An excellent Australian mystery story, available at the Lithgow Library Learning Centre in paperback and talking book (CD).  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Diggers Rest book cover




















Reading Diggers Rest