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Boxed

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When life delivers you gifts you don’t want. Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about When life delivers you gifts you don’t want. Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about him. And then boxes begin to arrive in the mail: boxes that he didn’t order, but ones that everyone around him seems to want desperately. As he tries to find out the secret of the boxes, Dave is drawn into a crazy world of red herrings and wrong turns, good guys and bad, false friends and true, violence, lust, fear, revenge, and a lot, lot more. It’s not a world he understands, but is it the only one Dave can live in?


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When life delivers you gifts you don’t want. Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about When life delivers you gifts you don’t want. Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about him. And then boxes begin to arrive in the mail: boxes that he didn’t order, but ones that everyone around him seems to want desperately. As he tries to find out the secret of the boxes, Dave is drawn into a crazy world of red herrings and wrong turns, good guys and bad, false friends and true, violence, lust, fear, revenge, and a lot, lot more. It’s not a world he understands, but is it the only one Dave can live in?

30 review for Boxed

  1. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Richard Anderson is fast becoming one of the best crime fiction writers to take on the Aussie Outback and conquer it with cleverly crafted tales about hard working average Joe's (or Dave's, as is the case here) who find themselves involved in situations they've only seen on the television during prime time viewing; murder, mayhem, mobsters, and... accidental heroes. Dave Martin is a farmer struggling to overcome the breakdown of his marriage following the untimely and accidental death of his Richard Anderson is fast becoming one of the best crime fiction writers to take on the Aussie Outback and conquer it with cleverly crafted tales about hard working average Joe's (or Dave's, as is the case here) who find themselves involved in situations they've only seen on the television during prime time viewing; murder, mayhem, mobsters, and... accidental heroes. Dave Martin is a farmer struggling to overcome the breakdown of his marriage following the untimely and accidental death of his teenage son. The farm is on the steady decline and his drink is on the steep incline, the only thing he has to look forward to is the mail delivery. However, it's this one highlight in his week that introduces him to lowlifes and dangers not typically seen outside the big city. Boxed is a lot of fun; the characters are great and distinctly Australian, while the place-setting envelopes the reader in a unique rural Australian farming community, complete with cattle, dust, utes, and local firemen. I loved the unassuming hero angle and found myself eagerly turning the pages hoping for light at the end of the darkness for Dave. My rating: 4/5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “All my life I have been anchored here. I have known where I fitted. Wherever I went, people who didn't know me could always place me: because of where I lived, because I was someone's son, grandson, friend, then husband, and then father. Now it is all gone, and I am untethered, unplaceable. If I met myself in the supermarket, I wouldn't know who I was. I never imagined I could be so totally isolated. The farm is the only thing that defines me.” Boxed is the second novel by Australian author, “All my life I have been anchored here. I have known where I fitted. Wherever I went, people who didn't know me could always place me: because of where I lived, because I was someone's son, grandson, friend, then husband, and then father. Now it is all gone, and I am untethered, unplaceable. If I met myself in the supermarket, I wouldn't know who I was. I never imagined I could be so totally isolated. The farm is the only thing that defines me.” Boxed is the second novel by Australian author, Richard Anderson. Dave Martin is basically numb. He’s just going through the motions of life, devoid of any enthusiasm. It’s no wonder. He has never really recovered from the loss of his beloved son in an accident, his wife has moved to the city, and his farm is a mess. He avoids all contact with friends and neighbours, exists on frozen meals and tries not to drink too much. He’s waiting on a mail-order pump to arrive, so isn’t surprised at the box in his mailbox. The contents, though, are a shock: several tightly-packed bundles of $100 notes. Even as he’s deciding that, despite being addressed to him, it can’t be his, he is tucking the box away in a cupboard. Minutes later, his neighbour, Elaine, widow of noted ceramicist, Tito Slade, arrives on the trail of a missing parcel: a box of crockery. Soon after she departs, another neighbour arrives, convinced Dave has his parcel. In the following days, more boxes arrive, containing not cash but even stranger contents, and another Dave Martin of similar address rings chasing a missing parcel. Dave finds that, for the first time in eighteen months, he is actually stimulated to do something. He needs to find out what the boxes are all about. With these initial intriguing events, Anderson launches a plot that keeps even the most astute the reader guessing right up to the final pages. In the lead up to an exciting climax, he manages to include, as well as several red herrings, some very unusual pottery, several thugs, a desecrated grave, an eager cadet journalist, a ransacked house, a slightly crazy postal clerk, broken windows and anonymous cremains. His protagonist is threatened, seduced, shot at, held captive, hit from behind, questioned by police and hospitalised. He also manages to save a life, win on the horses, shoot a couch, relocate his mystery boxes multiple times and completely surprise himself by shooting someone in the calf. Despite his drinking and grief-fuelled depression, and the fact that he sometimes (more than sometimes?) thinks he’s going crazy, this narrator doesn’t come across as unreliable. He does make some choices that defy logic yet is insightful about what seems like his paranoia. More people care about Dave than he realises, even if his pride makes him initially reject their support and kindness. Anderson’s expert knowledge of farming and country towns is apparent in every paragraph. His support characters are likeable and their dialogue is witty and authentic. Original, topical and blackly funny, this is rural crime fiction at its best. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Scribe Publishing Australia

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling

    WOW!!!! What a talent! My View: Last year I read Richard Anderson’s debut Retribution – it was a stunning read – tension filled, evocative…with some thought provoking social commentary set in rural Australia, I loved it. When I was offered an opportunity to read Richard’s latest book “Boxed” I leapt at the chance and I was not disappointed. Boxed is set in another rural small town – mysteries abound and personal tragedies /grief inform the mood of the narrative. (No spoilers here). I love that WOW!!!! What a talent! My View: Last year I read Richard Anderson’s debut Retribution – it was a stunning read – tension filled, evocative…with some thought provoking social commentary set in rural Australia, I loved it. When I was offered an opportunity to read Richard’s latest book “Boxed” I leapt at the chance and I was not disappointed. Boxed is set in another rural small town – mysteries abound and personal tragedies /grief inform the mood of the narrative. (No spoilers here). I love that contemporary issues are woven into this mystery, that there is hope and a wonderful sense of community, that the characters are richly drawn and empathetic and that the mystery element shines brightly. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Richard Anderson has a talent for storytelling that is mesmerising. I cannot wait to read what he writes next.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    [Anderson is] at his best when describing the routines of life on the land ... Anderson’s style makes for easy reading, describing the landscape and probing into Dave’s past in short, unadorned sentences. Margot Lloyd, Adelaide Advertiser Australian author Richard Anderson is a farmer from NSW and his experience of life on the land really shines through in his second rural crime novelBoxed. It's a no nonsense mystery thriller with an interesting premise and fast paced plot … I thoroughly recommend [Anderson is] at his best when describing the routines of life on the land ... Anderson’s style makes for easy reading, describing the landscape and probing into Dave’s past in short, unadorned sentences. Margot Lloyd, Adelaide Advertiser Australian author Richard Anderson is a farmer from NSW and his experience of life on the land really shines through in his second rural crime novel Boxed. It's a no nonsense mystery thriller with an interesting premise and fast paced plot … I thoroughly recommend Boxed by Richard Anderson to crime and mystery lovers everywhere. Tracey Allen, Carpe Librum I love that contemporary issues are woven into this mystery, that there is hope and a wonderful sense of community, that the characters are richly drawn and empathetic and that the mystery element shines brightly. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Richard Anderson has a talent for storytelling that is mesmerising. I cannot wait to read what he writes next. Reading, Writing and Riesling Richard Anderson is fast becoming one of the best crime fiction writers to take on the Aussie Outback ... Boxed is a lot of fun; the characters are great and distinctly Australian, while the place-setting envelopes the reader in a unique rural Australian farming community. Just a Guy Who Likes to Read Boxed is original, idiosyncratic, atmospheric and satisfying. Pile by the Bed This is a clever and accomplished feat of storytelling with a satisfyingly gruesome climax, and a skilful evocation of Australian rural life. Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Saturday Age Written by a farmer from northern NSW, Boxed brings to life rural Australia and all its characters in a rollicking, and at times heartbreaking, mystery. Gail Barnsley, Daily Telegraph As with Richard Anderson’s earlier book Retribution, Boxed is rural crime fiction of the highest calibre. Karen Chisolm, AustCrimeFiction [Richard Anderson’s] really at his best when describing the routines of life on the land. Margot Lloyd, Mercury A carefully and cleverly plotted crime novel centred around the deeper theme of what it is to endure paralysing loss. Andrea Thompson, AustCrime

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    Australian author Richard Anderson is a farmer from NSW and his experience of life on the land really shines through in his second rural crime novel Boxed. It's a no nonsense mystery thriller with an interesting premise and fast paced plot. Dave Martin is a farmer beaten down by circumstances. His wife has left him and he's been neglecting his farm in favour of rattling around his run down house and drinking. Dave likes to order cheap tools online to kill the time but he starts to receive boxes Australian author Richard Anderson is a farmer from NSW and his experience of life on the land really shines through in his second rural crime novel Boxed. It's a no nonsense mystery thriller with an interesting premise and fast paced plot. Dave Martin is a farmer beaten down by circumstances. His wife has left him and he's been neglecting his farm in favour of rattling around his run down house and drinking. Dave likes to order cheap tools online to kill the time but he starts to receive boxes in the mail that he didn't order. The mystery of the boxes and the action that ensues really drives the novel forward and I was quickly caught up in the plot. Growing up in a rural community myself, I could totally relate to the farming district Dave lives in and his movements around the place and interactions with friends and family were 100% authentic Australian. Boxed is for readers who enjoyed the Aussie settings in A Time to Run or The Twisted Knot by J.M. Peace, The Dry by Jane Harper orScrublands by Chris Hammer. These are crime novels set in rural Australia from the perspective of a Police Officer, AFP Officer and a journalist all actively investigating crimes. However, Boxed is from the perspective of a bystander who finds himself in a lot of trouble and we the reader, then follow the choices he makes and the consequences of those decisions. I really began to feel for Dave, and praised and cheered for him when he made a smart decision and cringed in worry for him when he didn't. I thoroughly recommend Boxed by Richard Anderson to crime and mystery lovers everywhere and will be keen to check out his next book. * Copy courtesy of Scribe Publications *

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I know that summer is supposed to be finished, but no one told the sun and its mate, the wind that blisters off the plain, making me feel like a dry frog stranded between water points. But I see the plains grass is still green, the dust is holding low, and the kurrajong tree leaves are shaking their shiny vigour, so perhaps the last few months haven't been that hot. Can't say I've been paying attention. Richard Anderson's latest novel BOXED opens with a series of tableau paragraphs, almost I know that summer is supposed to be finished, but no one told the sun and its mate, the wind that blisters off the plain, making me feel like a dry frog stranded between water points. But I see the plains grass is still green, the dust is holding low, and the kurrajong tree leaves are shaking their shiny vigour, so perhaps the last few months haven't been that hot. Can't say I've been paying attention. Richard Anderson's latest novel BOXED opens with a series of tableau paragraphs, almost photographic in their capture of place, and a man. Right from that start you know this is a man with problems. I don't want to be Dave Martin, loser, parked at his mailbox under the river gum: two beers' drive from Stony Creek Pub, half a state from Sarah, and at least eighteen months past useful. But Dave's not as useless as he thinks he is. Definitely struggling, grieving for a dead son, and a past life, Dave's paralysed by overwhelming loss, distracting himself with online shopping, waiting for the parcels delivered to his mailbox. Those parcels providing (he fully admits) a small moment of joy in what's otherwise a difficult, downtrodden life. Caught on the farm that's failing in part because of him, trapped by depression and an inability to pull himself out out of it, his interactions with the world are driven by those that come to him, but most especially his parcels. Until the day something very unexpected is delivered to Dave's mailbox and things get weird. Packages of something white and large amounts of cash, a neighbour behaving oddly, a mailman who is unforthcoming, a neighbourhood suddenly infested with strange men with violence on their agenda, Dave's world quickly gets a lot more "interesting" than he wants, but it could just be the thing that he needs. As with Richard Anderson's earlier book RETRIBUTION, BOXED is rural crime fiction of the highest calibre. It's not all blood soaked violence (although there is some of that), nor is it necessarily crime and punishment based. It's a character study through the prism of threat, and people outside their comfort zones. Particularly, in this case, a man for whom the problems of his life are pretty overwhelming. Dave Martin is beautifully evoked and whilst he will ring bells with city people, rural dwellers will know him in particular. A man whose life is tied to a place through generations past, the expectation would always be the same of generations future. Until the unbelievable happens and a moment wipes away that future. Then it's a marriage that doesn't survive the loss, but a friendship that remains. It's about somebody who can't bring themselves to step away from the source of so much pain, and yet simultaneously can't bring themselves to thrive in that place. It's about depression ultimately, the scourge of so many rural people where livelihoods depend so much on physical ability, often impaired by mental challenges. BOXED is slower paced than some crime fiction, but there is an intriguing mystery at the heart of this novel, providing the catalyst that could change Dave Martin's life, wrecking it further, or possibly improving it. You won't know until the end of the novel, but I bet you by that time you will find yourself experiencing a connection with Dave and all his challenges.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    “I check the name and address: Dave Martin, Five Trees. It is mine. It has been sent to me. This makes no sense.” Dave Martin is baffled when he finds a box, addressed to him, stuffed with hundred dollar bills by his farm’s mailbox. Even more so when first, nearby property owners Elaine Slade, an attractive widow, and then “self-serving, hard as nails” Ben Ruder drop by, looking for a misdelivered parcel they claim is theirs. Turning the box over would be the right thing to do, but In the wake of “I check the name and address: Dave Martin, Five Trees. It is mine. It has been sent to me. This makes no sense.” Dave Martin is baffled when he finds a box, addressed to him, stuffed with hundred dollar bills by his farm’s mailbox. Even more so when first, nearby property owners Elaine Slade, an attractive widow, and then “self-serving, hard as nails” Ben Ruder drop by, looking for a misdelivered parcel they claim is theirs. Turning the box over would be the right thing to do, but In the wake of a soul crushing tragedy, and a lot of booze, Dave isn’t thinking clearly. The mystery deepens as more boxes with odd contents arrive, yet even as Elaine is assaulted, his own home is ransacked by thugs, and the police start asking questions, and Dave finds himself well out of his depth, he is determined to find answers. “All my life I have been anchored here. I have known where I fitted. Wherever I went, people who didn't know me could always place me: because of where I lived, because I was someone's son, grandson, friend, then husband, and then father. Now it is all gone, and I am untethered, unplaceable. If I met myself in the supermarket, I wouldn't know who I was. I never imagined I could be so totally isolated. The farm is the only thing that defines me.” In Dave, Anderson has skilfully crafted an unlikely hero. A farmer in rural Australia, who is weighed down by grief after experiencing a series of personal losses, Dave feels hopeless, seeking nightly oblivion in a bottle, neglecting the farm, and rebuffing the efforts of friends who reach out with offers of support. The mystery of the box full of cash pierces his shroud of self-pity, and, with nothing much to lose, Dave welcomes the subsequent drama, despite the dangers. “I had been lying to myself about taking the box back to the mailbox. I want to see this to the end. I want to solve the mystery. I want the money — all of it.” Boxed unfolds at a measured pace, driven by Dave’s artless, if well-intentioned, efforts. Elaine is evasive, Ben is vaguely menacing, stalking the mailman proves unhelpful, and the thug’s taking regular potshots at him aren’t interested in talking. As Dave tries to determine who is the rightful owner of the boxes he has hidden in his laundry, the situations in which he finds himself escalate into an almost farcical escapade. The plot is well constructed with red herrings, surprise twists and a dramatic climax. “If I knew then ... maybe none of this would have happened. When those boxes... arrived, I would have taken them straight to the police. There’d be no story to tell. No one would have been shot at, threatened, bashed, knocked out, or hurt...” An engaging character driven mystery, with a sardonic wit that enlivens the plot, and a compelling sense of place, and community, I really enjoyed Boxed. I hope to read more by Robert Anderson soon.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Dave Martin, newly separated, newly bereaved, but not so newly impoverished, is watching his life decline by degrees. There are few routines left to cling to as the family farm decays around Dave and the community who once embraced Dave as part of a family of three are now not sure how to speak to him. There are no labels for parents who have lost their children; it being a suffering so deep that it has never been given a one word descriptive. Hauling himself away from his largely liquid diet Dave Martin, newly separated, newly bereaved, but not so newly impoverished, is watching his life decline by degrees. There are few routines left to cling to as the family farm decays around Dave and the community who once embraced Dave as part of a family of three are now not sure how to speak to him. There are no labels for parents who have lost their children; it being a suffering so deep that it has never been given a one word descriptive. Hauling himself away from his largely liquid diet and out to his roadside mailbox is something Dave is still managing to muster up the energy for. The constant arrival of boxes full of random items all bought online is an event to which Dave has now, likely unhealthily, become rather attached to. The day Dave receives an empty box full of cash though is something of a gamechanger. The box may have been addressed to Dave, but he is certain there isn’t a money fairy out there thinking of him and his dying farm. Soon it seems everyone in the vicinity wants to see if there was a box delivered in error to Dave’s farm. A decision needs to be soon made about how far Dave is prepared to go to mask the origin of his newly found wealth. New boxes are arriving all the time, not full of cash, but instead containing puzzling little clues to someone else’s life. Bush crime, or rural noir if you prefer, is having quite the moment as we all know. The challenges of such extreme geographic isolation in the hostile environment of outback Australia lends itself well to works of crime and dramatic fiction. It’s possible there is going to be no one around to witness the occurrence of a terrible event. No one nearby to help, and perhaps no friends or family about either to observe what a person might be up to. Australian author Richard Anderson knows his rural settings well, being a northern NSW cattle farmer himself. Dave Martin’s small rural community is easily identifiable to anyone who has ever lived or worked in such towns, with there being a sameness to the manner in which they are constructed, regardless of the landscape of bush or sea. There is always the landed gentry, the newly landed, and fringe dwellers seeking a quieter life for fair reasons or foul. Anderson shows respect and offers dignity to the smallest of rituals observed by the bereaved in an isolated location beautifully yet economically illustrated. As Dave Martin’s life goes from meandering to murderous, we’re right there in the passenger seat with him, hurtling around dusty roads and living day to day with what might come next, be it in the form of yet another mysterious box or an unexpected visitor. Dave’s life incrementally picks up the pace as he adapts to each new dilemma, moving beyond the ennui in which we find him wading through at the beginning of the novel, to thinking speedily on the run as he second guesses the motivations of everyone around him. BOXED is a carefully and cleverly plotted crime novel centred around the deeper theme of what it is to endure paralysing loss. This is not to say this is a novel saturated in melancholic regret by any means; BOXED has a self-deprecating character in Dave Martin and he is an interesting work in progress from start to finish of this absorbing book. The setting is almost that of a post-apocalyptic community – everyone is waiting for something to happen, yet quite shocked when it actually does. BOXED is Richard Anderson’s second novel. The first, RETRIBUTION, also deserves your immediate attention. Both novels are standalones and feature realistic characters that are desperate to move on beyond their current circumstances, yet are unsure of exactly how to do so.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    This was an easy read. It is a novel set in rural Australia and Anderson captures that life well. The main character Dave is in a bad way, and this explains some of his responses to the boxes that arrive out of the blue. This was a quirky crime story, interwoven with the consequences of bereavement. A worthy Australian voice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A quirky take on a crime thriller and insightful portrayal of grief. My only criticism would be that it was a bit repetitious.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ranjana

    A highly entertaining book in a brilliant rural Australian setting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Not for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve J

  14. 5 out of 5

    stephen trahair

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mardi

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leona

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Barnett

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barbara bfown

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Hodges

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Orchard

  21. 5 out of 5

    sylvia dewey

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alyson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  25. 5 out of 5

    Averil

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Porter

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jen Pritchard

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jyv

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