Bitter Nothings


Fiction - Mystery - Murder
235 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2014
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Author Biography

Based in rural Victoria, Australia, bestselling author Vick Tyley writes fast-paced mystery and suspense novels in contemporary Australian settings.

Born and raised in New Zealand, she moved to Western Australia with a single suitcase when she was nineteen years old. She has travelled extensively, spending a year touring the world before terrorism was an influencing factor. She has lived in the central business districts of large cities, suburbia, idyllic seaside locations, rural areas, bushland, and remote desert mining camps.

In the lead up to her writing career, Vicki worked in a multitude of different industries including banking, stockbroking, importing and wholesaling, human resources, mining, hospitality, civil engineering, and toys, in predominantly accounting, IT and management roles.

All these life experiences are brought to bear in her writing.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Julia Hopkinson for Readers' Favorite

In Bitter Nothings, Vicki Tyley presents another complex and thrilling tale of dysfunctional families, determined women, and mysterious deaths and disappearances. Graphic designer, Dervla Johns, and her brothers, Gabe and Emmett, are still missing their mother, following her suicide two years earlier. Several years before that, their father, Warren, had left home to move in with his mistress, Lucinda, and had since had two more children. At the start of the book, the siblings are now shocked by the news that, not only have Lucinda and her children been found dead in their beds, shot as they slept, but that Warren is missing and has become the police’s number one suspect. Dervla appears to be the only one to doubt their father’s guilt, and starts to investigate who else might have had reason to want Warren’s new family dead.

I absolutely love Vicki Tyley’s suspense books, and Bitter Nothings is certainly no exception. Her skill in weaving the various strands of the story together, and in dropping just enough hints and clues to keep you on both the tips of your toes and the edge of your seat, is immense. Each time you think you've got a handle on the plot, it veers off in a new direction and throws you a curve ball. Yet again I did not see the end coming, and her ability to consistently mislead and blindside her readers is remarkable. I think I suspected every single person at one time or another. Her characters are always vivid and realistic and she often sneaks in a bit of humour and a smidgen of romance. Once again, I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending this book.

Book Boogie

Graphic designer Dervla Johns' half-sister and half-brother are found dead in their beds, along with their mother, Lucinda. The police have a prime suspect – her father, Warren. Dervla tangles with the investigating officer, Det. Sr. Sgt. Todd Gleeson, more than once before they settle into an uneasy truce.

Characters keep popping up, making it a little difficult to keep track of who's who, unless one pays attention. In fact, I had to make a list as I went along. Get ready to be introduced to a list of suspects galore: Warren, of course, but there's also Lucinda's ex-husband, Warren's secret lover, his personal assistant, Dervla's druggie half-sister and her "toxic" boyfriend, or perhaps, another of Warren's secret lovers.

As if that weren't enough, Dervla has to cope with others – her two warring brothers who are constantly at each other's throats, her sleazy ex-fiancé whose zipper is always open at the ready, her father's PR consultant who's a good friend in an abusive relationship, and a freelance reporter who's playing her for an exclusive.

Unable to reconcile answers she's given (or more accurately, not given) to the myriad questions effervescing in her mind, Dervla plays detective on her own. She juggles matters and her thoughts, and finds out a few things for us to mull over.

Once again, Vicky Tyley had me guessing, right from the start, trying to figure out whodunnit. I've enjoyed reading all her books, paying particular attention to her maturing style. And in the process, I've learned quite a bit about contemporary Australian society.

BigAl's Books and Pals

I’ve read all of Vicki Tyley’s books and they all have some qualities that keep me coming back starting with well constructed plots with multiple “suspects” to choose from. I’ve yet to figure out whodunit until just before the climax, often getting completely blindsided. (I then think back to the clues and realize they were all there, if I’d only seen them.) The tension tends to be high, like a thriller, with the protagonist often in danger (or at least feeling they are). The protagonist is always someone I like and find myself pulling for them to solve the mystery. The Australian settings and characters add a little spice, setting them apart and giving me a change of pace from the norm.

Bitter Nothings has all of these qualities which leaves me feeling that I don’t have anything new to say (other than “buy this book, you’ll like it”). So, buy this book, you’ll like it.


The story starts off with the gunshot in the prologue, and the plot doesn’t stop or detour until the denouement in the epilogue. This isn’t to say there aren’t subplots or that the novel is nothing but darkness and murder. There are three minor subplots, one of Dervla’s best friend Sophie, dealing with her ex-husband Martin, which intercedes in Dervla’s story at just the right points. The next largest is a romantic thread. It never gets in the way of the story, but I wish I had gotten a bit more closure with it by the end. The third is very small and largely tied into the main plot and involves Dervla trying to keep track of her half-sister Alana, who lives with her boyfriend Toxic. Dervla’s relationship with her siblings and surviving half-sibling works out very well. Her brothers love her and each other, though they sometimes have difficulty showing it past all the arguing they do (which was very well written out and not at all typical sibling banter), and Dervla clearly does love Alana, even if Alana is too bitter to accept it. Each sibling has a distinct personality, one that feels real rather than simply like a type, i.e., the protective older brother, the delinquent, etc.