Review: The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey

 

Title: The Bombay Prince {Perveen Mistry #3}

Author: Sujata Massey

Published: 1st June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Bombay Prince is the third book by Sujata Massey to feature Perveen Massey, India’s first female solicitor, working alongside her father, a respected lawyer. It’s not strictly necessary to have read the previous novels, A Murder on Malabar Hill and The Satapur Moonstone, to enjoy this though I believe the experience is better for it.

Taking place in November of 1921, Massey sets the story of The Bombay Prince against the unrest in India between British loyalists and those agitating for India’s independence as Edward VIII, Prince of Wales arrives to tour the sub-continent.

Perveen meets with a young university student worried that if she refuses the school principal’s directive to attend the parade welcoming Prince Edward that she could be expelled. Freny Cuttingmaster is anxious that she not disappoint her parents by jeopardising her education but staunchly opposes British Rule and wants Perveen’s assurance that her future will not be compromised by taking a stand. Perveen isn’t able to provide Freny with a definitive answer, suggesting she return with her college handbook, but she doesn’t see the young woman again until, on the day of the parade, Freny’s body is found in the courtyard of the school.

The Bombay Prince offers a well crafted mystery that plays out against the backdrop of protests which divides the city of Bombay along political and religious lines. Perveen is deeply distressed by the young woman’s death, especially when it becomes clear that Freny didn’t simply fall from the gallery as the scene was staged to suggest. Not able to trust that the death will be properly investigated for a number of reasons, including the college’s wish to avoid scandal, general dismissive attitudes towards women, and the escalating violence related to Prince Edward’s visit, Purveen insinuates herself into the case to ensure the killer is brought to justice. The challenge Purveen faces in navigating these issues is fascinating, probably more so than the mystery itself at times, especially when she is noticed by the men looking for collaborators in a plot to assassinate Prince Edward.

Purveen is a complex character, presenting an uneasy mix of progressive and conservative traits. Though she has defied societal expectations by becoming a solicitor, and in separating from her abusive husband, she is very conscious of the need to behave in ways that protect both her and her family’s reputation, and tends to be braver when acting on behalf of her clients than she is in than her defence of herself. This is particularly evident in her interactions with men, which makes her continued connection with Colin Sandringham, who was her government liaison in The Satapur Moonstone, an intriguing element of the story.

Rich in historical detail and cultural interest, offering a discerning mystery and a hint of romance, The Bombay Prince is an engaging novel, and I hope the series will continue.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

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Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart


Title: Digging Up Dirt {Poppy McGowan Mysteries #1}

Author: Pamela Hart

Published: 2nd June 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Harlequin/Netgalley

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

There’s a real dearth of Australian cosy mysteries so I’m delighted by the publication of Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart, introducing television researcher, and amateur sleuth, Poppy McGowan.

Poppy McGowan is nearing the end of renovations of her terrace house in inner Sydney when her builder discovers bones buried in the dirt under her living room floor. To determine if the are animal or human, the Museum of NSW sends Dr. Julieanne Weaver, with whom Poppy has an antagonistic relationship, who arrives with her boyfriend- the handsome visiting archaeologist Bartholomew ‘Tol’ Lang. Weaver quickly agrees the bones aren’t human, but she won’t release the site, declaring the bones may belong to a rare breed of sheep that arrived with the First Fleet. Poppy is frustrated but decides to make the best of the situation, as a researcher for an educational television show on the ABC, at least footage of the dig can be used for a upcoming program. Two days later, Poppy finds herself in front of the camera after the body of Julieanne is discovered in the hole in her house. The police consider Poppy to be a prime suspect so using her research skills and media contacts, Poppy sets out to prove her innocence.

Poppy digs up no shortage of suspects, Julieanne wasn’t well liked among her colleagues at the Museum, and then there is her surprising involvement with the right-wing Australian Family Party and the Pentecostal Radiant Joy Church. Hart provides plenty of red herrings for Poppy to be sidetracked by, creating an interesting ‘whodunnit’ plot.

I wasn’t keen on the involvement of religion and politics in the story, simply because both subjects tend to distress me. That said, it allows Hart to raise some topical issues including feminism, domestic violence, the status of LBTQIA+, Aboriginal heritage, and obliquely comments on Australia’s current political climate. Poppy uses the media credentials bestowed upon her by the ABC news desk desperate for an exclusive, to involve herself in the two conservative groups, suspecting one of their leaders may be responsible for her death.

Smart, resourceful and quick-witted Poppy is a likeable, well rounded character. As she is living with her staunchly Catholic parents while her home is being renovated we are briefly introduced to her family giving us a sense of her background. I found her work as a researcher to be interesting and think it lends itself well to the practicality of amateur sleuthing.

There’s a touch of romance in the novel, though Poppy is involved with an accountant named Stuart, and Tol is dating Julieanne, the attraction between the pair is obvious from their first meeting. As it turns out Stuart is a prat, and well Julieanne dies, so the situation is not quite as awkward as it could be. I liked the will they/won’t they nature of the relationship, however given that Tol is expected to leave for a long term position in Jordan in a few weeks, there is no guarantee he will become a series regular.

Offering well crafted intrigue, appealing characters and a uniquely Australian setting, I found Digging Up Dirt to be entertaining and engaging cosy mystery. I hope there will be more.

+++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

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Review: Mirror Man by Fiona McIntosh

 

Title: Mirror Man {DCI Jack Hawkesworth #3}

Author: Fiona McIntosh

Published: 1st June 2021, Michael Joseph

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

It’s been more than a decade since I read the first two books to feature DCI Jack Hawkesworth, Bye Bye Baby and Beautiful Death, so I picked up Mirror Man with only a vague memory of the storyline, however it’s not necessary to have read either to enjoy this third instalment of the series.

Mirror Man begins when DCI Jack Hawkesworth is reassigned from his role as a Counter Terrorism International Liaison by Martin Sharpe, the Acting Chief Superintendent of the Homicide and Serious Crime Branch at Scotland Yard, to investigate a possible link between three bizarre murders. Given a promotion to Detective Superintendent and a small team to command which allows him to reunite with DI Kate Carter, DI Malek Khan and analyst DS Sara Jones, Jack is tasked to figure out if there is a serial killer loose in London targeting recently paroled criminals.

The reader knows who is responsible for the deadly string of crimes from the outset of the novel but Jack and his team have to find evidence to first prove they are linked before they even begin to search for a suspect. As a police procedural, Mirror Man works well. The murders offer little in the way of forensic evidence, the killer has been careful to leave no trace of themselves behind, so the taskforce must painstakingly investigate every possible piece of information. The killer’s goal is more obvious, a vigilante seeking his own form of justice, though his exact motivation is not known to the team.

It’s rare to be ambivalent about the capture of a serial killer, but when his victims include an unrepentant, violent rapist; an abuser who beat his wife to death; and the drunk driver who annihilated the man’s wife, daughter and granddaughters you can’t help but feel a little conflicted. I liked that McIntosh explores this morally grey area, as well as issues surrounding sentencing, rehabilitation, early parole and how they impact on the victims of crime.

Once again Jack finds himself blurting the line between his professional and personal life when journalist Lauren Starling gets wind of Operation: Mirror Man. Much is made in this series of Jack’s good looks which leaves women swooning in his wake, including Kate whose crush on her boss is still as florid as ever.  At Kate’s suggestion, Jack also seeks advice from Anne McEvoy, his former lover, and serial killer, who is serving several life sentences after Jack exposed her in Bye Bye Baby. A psychologist and criminologist, she provides a profile that offers some insight into the case.

Though the reader is led to believe they have all the answers the police are searching for, there are several well placed surprises in Mirror Man. The pace and tension accelerates as Jack grows closer to identifying his quarry, and the lives of several characters are at risk.

With its provocative theme and well crafted plot, Mirror Man is a gripping police procedural, sure to entertain crime fiction readers.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

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Blog Tour Review: Nancy Business by R.W.R. McDonald

 

Title: Nancy Business {The Nancy’s #2}

Author: R.W.R. McDonald

Published: 3rd June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

The Nancy’s are back in R.W.R. McDonald’s fabulous sequel to his fabulous 2019 debut, Nancy Business.

It’s been four months since The Nancy’s solved the case of the slain schoolteacher and Tippy Chan’s Uncle Pike and his boyfriend Devon have returned to the small New Zealand town of Riverstone for the first anniversary of Tippy’s father death. Tippy, now twelve, is delighted they have returned though disappointed she is yet to find a new mystery for them to solve. That’s soon remedied however when a car bomb explodes outside Riverstone’s town hall in the early hours of the morning, killing three people, including the alleged bomber, and wounding two. Tippy is at a loss to understand the horror and wants to know who would do such a thing, and why? Though the police seem to have all the answers, when Tippy learns of a letter threatening to blow up the town bridge in five days she convinces Uncle Pike and Devon that the Nancy’s need to investigate.

Whereas I wasn’t quite sold on the mystery in The Nancy’s, I don’t have the same issue here. Though still a rather spectacular crime to occur in a small country town, this time the entire thing feels less Scooby-Doo-like and more grounded in possibility. Establishing The Nancy’s HQ at the ‘murder’ house Pike and Devon have bought on the outskirts of Riverstone, the threesome attempt to figure out if the threat of a second bombing is real, after all, the police have been wrong before. Their usual sources are a little less cooperative this time but that doesn’t stop The Nancy’s nosing around, leading to a jealous husband, a bitey dog, bad smells, and a car chase down Main Street. Solving this case also leads to an unexpected twist with surprising implications for Tippy and her family (and the joy of a third book to look forward to).

McDonald conjures the same magic he created in The Nancy’s with Tippy’s charming narrative, and the witty, often outrageous, dialogue from Pike and Devon, though it has a sharper edge in Nancy Business. The pair don’t seem to be getting along very well, making Tippy anxious about the possibility of further loss. There’s more pathos on show all round in this novel as McDonald continues to explore the theme of grief. Naturally the anniversary of Joe Chan’s death evokes sadness and regret in those who loved him, emotions which are amplified when Tippy learns the truth about her father’s accident. McDonald’s portrayal of Tippy’s devastation in the wake of that revelation is heartrendingly authentic.

Though it’s not strictly necessary to have read The Nancy’s to enjoy this, I would strongly recommend you do. Brilliantly balancing poignancy with hilarity, family drama with mystery, Nancy Business is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining read.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

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++++++

 


Review: Still by Matt Nable

 

Title: Still

Author: Matt Nable

Published: May 2021, Hachette Australia 

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“They killed him because he saw.”

 

Still is an atmospheric noir crime fiction novel from Australian Matt Nable, a former professional rugby league footballer turned film and television broadcaster/actor, and novelist.

Set in Darwin in 1963, Nable exposes a barely civilised, nascent city plagued by racism, violence and corruption. It’s mid summer, the tropical weather alternates between searing and brooding, as oppressive and threatening as the work it takes to survive in the Territory.

When Senior Constable Ned Potter finds the body of a man beaten and shot twice in the marshland of Darwin’s outskirts, he resents being told to stand down by his venal boss, Senior Sergeant Riley, who promptly declares the the death a suicide. Ned is quietly furious but resigned to doing nothing until he stumbles upon the bodies of another two men buried in a shallow grave. They too have been beaten and shot, and yet again Riley, this time backed by the Mayor, presents Ned with a fair accompli. But this time Ned can’t let it go.

Ned is a well-realised, complex character. Nable portrays a man wrestling with conscience, caught between what he knows is right and the risk of consequences, not only to his career, which he expects, but to his wife and newborn daughter. Burning silently at the injustice, he punishes himself for his perceived lack of control and courage, drinks excessively, not sure whether he is trying to forget his principles, or his fear.

Meanwhile, on her way home from visiting her father in his nursing home, Charlotte Clark finds a bleeding, broken man who begs her to hide him. Charlotte sets him up at her father’s empty property, instinctively concealing the man from her firefighter husband, who shares a cosy relationship with Senior Sergeant Riley.

For Charlotte, caring for the badly injured Michael is not only the right thing to do, despite society’s prevailing derogatory view, supported by her husband, of Australian aboriginals, but also provides her with a sense of control in a life where effectively she has none. Charlotte is a women representative of the era, a restless housewife with no practical means of escape from an unhappy marriage. The consequences of being discovered are dire not only for her, given the propensity for violence of her husband, but also for Michael, whose life is at risk.

The stakes are high for just about every character in Still, and with lives, and livelihoods, under threat the tension rarely wavers. While I do think the pacing was perhaps a little slow, my only real complaint with the novel relates to the timeline. There is a lack of immediacy in the resolution, which was necessary for one specific element of the plot, but I feel it didn’t work particularly well overall, and resulted in the conclusion losing some of its impact.

Nevertheless, Still has a lot to recommend it. I found it to be a compelling novel – superbly atmospheric, with nuanced characters and a strong mystery.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia 

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Review: The Nancy’s by R.W.R. McDonald

 

Title: The Nancy’s {The Nancy’s #1}

Author: R.W.R McDonald

Published:3rd June 2019, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

I’ll be honest, as a preteen I much preferred Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew but I would leap at the chance to join The Nancy’s who feature in this delightful debut from New Zealand-born Australian author R.W.R McDonald.

Eleven year old Tippy Chan lives in a tiny town in South Otago. Her mother, Helen, a nurse at a local hospital, has won a two week cruise and so Tippy’s Uncle Pike, and his boyfriend Devon, have flown in from Sydney to look after her. It’s been a difficult year for Tippy after the death of her beloved father, and Tippy is a little anxious about her mother’s absence, increasingly so when first one of her best friend’s is badly injured in a fall from the town’s single lane bridge, and then her teacher’s naked headless body is discovered nearby. Tippy, a fan of the Nancy Drew mystery series, has the idea to investigate both incidents, a pursuit Pike and Devon indulge with a murder board written on a living room window in permanent texta, a mantra (Everyone’s a suspect), and matching t-shirts designed by Devon (after several attempts).

Calling themselves The Nancy’s, the three rely on their charm, insider’s knowledge (Pike grew up in Riverstone) of the town and its residents, and a little luck to try and solve the mystery but investigating a murder isn’t quite as easy as Nancy Drew makes it seem. The closer they get to finding the truth, the less Tippy is sure she really wants to know. I’m not sure how I feel about the mystery element of the novel, I thought the manner of death and the behaviour of the killer was unnecessarily outlandish, and it wasn’t as strong overall as I expected it to be, though it was satisfyingly resolved.

Whatever weakness there may be in the plot, I adored the main cast of The Nancy’s. Tippy is a delightful narrator – bright and quick, but still appropriately childish. She admires Nancy Drew for a number of reasons, so it’s no surprise she wants to emulate her. Still grieving the sudden loss of her father, the investigation is a way for her to gain some control over her life, and the things that scare her.

Uncle Pike, who looks like Santa Claus, only with tattoos, and Devon, described as Ken wearing Barbie, are outrageous characters with larger than life personalities. Irreverent, with a penchant for drink, swearing and innuendo, they are not really appropriate guardians for a child, but are warm, supportive, and fun which is exactly what Tippy needs. I found them absolutely hilarious, though I recognise their potential to offend.

There is variety in the supporting characters from elderly neighbours Mr and Mrs Brown and their granddaughter Melanie, an unctuous real estate agent, and a toothy tv presenter (who is also Pike’s ex-boyfriend), to a hard nosed journalist, a closeted policeman, and Tippy’s other best friend, Sam, and his family. The tiny community of Riverstone allows McDonald to explore the ironies of small town life, particularly as Pike and Devon make over goth girl Melanie to enter the annual beauty contest.

A murder mystery laced with mirth, The Nancy’s is a witty, warm, and wildly entertaining novel. I can’t wait to read about The Nancy’s next adventure in McDonald’s Nancy Business.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

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Review: The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin

 

Title: The Girl Remains {Detective Emmett Corban #2}

Author: Katherine Firkin

Published: 4th May 2021, Bantam Australia

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Girl Remains is the second crime fiction novel to feature Detective Emmett Corban from Katherine Firkin, following her debut novel Stick’s and Stones (2020).

When human bones are discovered on a beach in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular, hopes are raised that they will reveal the fate of fifteen year old Cecilia May who vanished from the small coastal town of Blairgowrie two decades earlier after she’d become separated from her two best friends during a late night walk. Detective Leading Senior Constable Emmett Corban is tasked with re-investigating the crime, sifting through old evidence while searching for new leads. The local community are certain the girl’s killer has already been identified – a neighbour with a previous charge of child sexual assault, but Emmett soon suspects that Cecilia’s friend’s have yet to tell the whole truth about the night Cecilia missing.

Firkin creates an intriguing, complex plot with this cold case murder of a teenage girl at its centre. Though Emmett agrees Warren Turton is the main suspect, and is under some pressure to wrap up the case quickly, he and his team must still do their due diligence. As the police begin to discover new information the focus of Emmett’s investigation subtly begins to shift and more potential suspects enter the frame. I thought the murder mystery was well crafted and comfortably challenging to piece together.

While the investigation moves forward, the reader is given insight into the thoughts and behaviours of some of the case’s key players including Cecelia’s friends, Scarlett and Gina aka Gypsy, Scarlett’s father, the wife of the local priest, and an enigmatic young drifter whose interest in the town, and Cecilia’s case in particular, seems oddly intense. Firkin manages the large cast quite well,  and the additional perspectives provide tantalising pieces of information, adding depth to the storyline.

Emmett’s wife, Cindy, also becomes tangentially involved in the case as she continues to pursue photography as a career. There is still some tension between the couple after the events in Firkin’s debut, and it spikes again when her desire for an exclusive threatens to interfere with Emmett’s investigation.

A confident sequel to Sticks and Stones, though it can be read as a stand alone, The Girl Remains is a clever and absorbing crime novel.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

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Review: You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll

 

Title: You Had It Coming

Author: B.M. Carroll

Published: 13th May 2021, Viper

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy Viper/Netgalley UK

+++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“Someone else must hate him as much as we do.”

As paramedic Megan Lowe loads a patient suffering gunshot wounds into her ambulance she is stunned to realise she recognises the man. Twelve years previously William Newson was the barrister who successfully gained the acquittal of the two men who raped her, by labelling her and her best friend Jess as liars. Homicide Squad detective Bridget Kennedy is suspicious of the coincidence, but she quickly learns that plenty of people thought he had coming, defending sexual predators has won the dead man few fans, including among his family.

You Had It Coming unfolds from the alternating perspectives of Megan, Jess and Bridget. Instinctively on learning of Newson’s death, both Megan and Jess feel that he deserves his fate, still angry about his role in their trial. While the women were victims of the same crime, their reactions in the aftermath have been quite different. Jess has arguably coped better in the intervening years, but then the fall out could be said to have been more dramatic for Megan, regardless both are living quite different lives from what they had planned at 17. I admired Carroll’s portrayal of both women, who come across as complex, authentic characters.

Carroll offers us a glimpse into Bridget’s personal life, and the effect her work as a detective has on her family. With a teenage daughter and son of her own, Bridget can’t help but be affected by Megan and Jess’s experiences.

I also appreciated the authenticity of Bridget’s investigation. She and her colleagues follow up on all the information that comes their way, sifting through evidence, leads and suspects. Carroll provides the reader with a number of potential suspects, and does well to keep many of them in play ensuring suspense is maintained, the stakes rising when the body of another man related to Megan and Jess’s case is discovered in suspicious circumstances.

Carroll explores a number of themes such as trauma, justice, shame, guilt and revenge. She also exposes the flaws of the justice system, particularly when it involves sexual assault, and illustrates how the consequences of the crime is rarely confined to just the perpetrators and victims. I felt her portrayal of all the issues was sensitive and respectful.

A blend of domestic thriller and police procedural, I found You Had It Coming to be a suspenseful and thought-provoking novel.

+++++++

Available from Serpents Tail

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Book Depository I Booko I Amazon

and Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Review: Vanished by James Delargy


Title: Vanished

Author: James Delargy

Published: 5th May 2021, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy Simon & Schuster Australia

+++++++

My Thoughts:

“A family was missing. They had been in the town and then they weren’t. What they were even doing therein the first place wasn’t yet known. No one should have been there. No one had for close to fifty years.”

James Delargy has followed his impressive debut novel, 55, with another compelling thriller set in Australia’s unforgiving outback, Vanished.

Tasked to investigate the disappearance of the Maguire family, Lorcan, his wife Naiyana, and their six year old son, Dylan, from Kallayee, an abandoned town on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert, Major Case Squad Detective Emmaline Taylor is puzzled by what she finds left behind – a home on the brink of collapse, its contents ransacked; blood smears, though not enough to suggest a fatality; a tunnel littered with chocolate bar wrappers, a dead end, like all their leads seem to be, until she finds a body being savaged by a pack of dingo’s on the outskirts of town.

Unfolding from multiple perspectives, shifting between before and after their disappearance, it soon becomes apparent that the Maguires left Perth to set up home in the remote West Australian ghost town not in the spirit of adventure, but because they had few alternatives available to them.

Though the Maguire’s tell themselves they are in Kallayee to become closer as a  family, the cracks in their marriage are obvious. They lie to themselves as much as they lie to each other and eventually neither Lorcan nor Naiyana are particularly sympathetic or even likeable. If not for the presence of Dylan I’m not sure I’d care much what happened to them. I liked Emmaline a lot though, she’s smart, determined and interesting.

Clever plotting ensures there are several possibilities, from the benign to the ominous, that may explain the family’s disappearance. Even though we are privy to information Emmaline is not, Delargy doesn’t share everything with the reader, subtly undermining what we think we know, allowing for surprising twists.

Short chapters ensure a good pace, and the author effectively builds the suspense in both timelines. The desolate, broken landscape creates a claustrophobic, hostile backdrop to the story that adds to the tension.

Vanished is a gripping, atmospheric thriller with an unexpected but satisfying conclusion.

++++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

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Review: The Chase by Candice Fox


Title: The Chase

Author: Candice Fox

Published: April 2021, Bantam Press

Status: Read April 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

It’s clear from its opening pages that The Chase by Candice Fox, is going to be a tense, fast paced, exciting thriller as a sniper threatens the lives of a bus load of innocent civilians unless the warden of the Pronghorn Correctional Facility releases not just one inmate, but all 653.

Captain Celine Osbourne is horrified as her colleagues, some of whom have family on the bus, open the cells and prisoners stream from the facility into the Nevada desert, including the men under her supervision on Death Row -every one a monster. Celine is more than willing to help track them down, but her focus is on recapturing John Kradle, a man whose crime haunts her.

In the five years since his incarceration, John Kradle has made preparations just in case a chance at escape presented itself. He doesn’t plan to live it up in Vegas nor flee to Mexico though, John just wants to stay ahead of law enforcement long enough to be able to prove himself innocent of the murders of his wife, son and sister-in-law.

As Kradle makes his way to his hometown of Mesquite, trailed by a terrifying psychopath, Celine teams up with an ex-inmate in her desperation to find him. Both of the main characters grew on me as the story unfolded. Fox uses flashbacks to provide information about them, and illustrate their shocking connection. Celine is a sympathetic character despite her flaws, and some foolish decisions. Kradle too earns sympathy as he endeavours to find whomever is really culpable for the deaths of his family, while trying to avoid capture by the law, a serial killer, a reward hunter, and Celine.

While many of the escapees are quickly recaptured, Fox highlights the adventures of a handful of prisoners on the loose,  including Kradles’s unwanted shadow, Homer, a serial killer known as The North Nevada Strangler; the elderly Raymond ‘The Axe’ Ackerman; and white supremacist Burke David Schmitz, as they make their bids for freedom. The actions of each men contribute to the tensions in the novel, though in very different, and disturbing, ways.

For the agent in charge of the extraordinary fugitive hunt, the largely unlikeable, bad-ass Marshall Trinity Parker, the priority is finding the man for whom the breakout was orchestrated, before he enacts whatever deadly event she is sure he has planned. She makes no apologies for her agenda, ruthlessly leveraging the inside man, Celine, and whomever else she deems necessary to identify her quarry, and track him down.

There are obviously a lot of moving parts to The Chase given the multiple characters and story threads, but Fox deftly integrates them into a compelling whole. The story unfurls at a fast pace, offering plenty of action, suspense and drama. The author’s quirky sense of humour is evident throughout, helping to balance the the impact of the violence.

Gripping, exciting and entertaining, I recommend you pursue a copy of The Chase at your earliest convenience.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

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