Summer mysteries to read
The Half-Child By Angela Savage
Text Publishing RRP $32.95
Jayne Keeney is a fiesty thirty-something Aussie who has been living in Bangkok for many years. She has been hired to investigate the alleged suicide of a young Australian woman in a seedy Thai coastal town. Maryanne Delbeck was happy and harmless, her father refuses to believe she took her own life.
Jayne immerses herself in the case, navigating the backstreet world of Thai ladyboys, monks, strippers, expats and corrupt officials. Maryanne’s death is not the only mystery awaiting Jayne among Pattaya’s neon signs and go-go bars. While working undercover at the orphanage where Maryanne volunteered, Jayne discovers something far more sinister.
Now her life is in danger, her case is still unsolved and she barely has time for dinner with her handsome new love interest, Rajiv. With love and death both circling, Jayne now has two cases to crack and very little time to do it. The Half-Child is not your standard crime novel, and Jayne Keeney is not your everyday detective.
Not your average PI, Jayne isn’t a straight-forward character – she smokes, drinks and pulls no punches, she is unpredictable, upfront and frequently prickly, there are times when you admire her, and times you want to slap her. Times you think she’s an idiot, and then she’ll be quite cunning. There’s even a little romantic tension – although Jayne seems to be somewhat uninterested and indifferent to it all.
The motivation behind this story is overseas adoptions when dishonest people get involved, people who are trafficking babies to unsuspecting foreign couples, desperate to adopt. Savage has not given herself a particularly easy subject to tackle.
The book has to negotiate a minefield, illustrating the experience for everyone involved, careful to show the impact on all sides, whilst still maintaining an investigative imperative. Great read for those wanting a deeper more layered detective novel without the clumsy bimbo PI!
Sharp Turn by Marianne Delacourt
Published by Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99
Tara Sharp is at it again! Things are finally looking up on the work front, which may just mean she’ll be able to escape living in her parent’s garage.
Not only has the owner of a motorcycle racing team put her on retainer to find out who’s sabotaging his bikes, but a wealthy ‘madam’ (of the bordello variety) wants her ‘girls’ coached on how to read their clients more astutely.
But dark clouds are gathering. The word is that local gang lord, Johnny Viaspa, has engaged a hitman known as ‘the Finisher’ to clean up some ‘unfinished business’. And given her previous history with Viaspa, Tara has reason to be concerned… As if that weren’t bad enough, Wal, her narcoleptic security chief is suddenly homeless and is eyeing off the couch in Tara’s digs while talking about ‘keeping an eye on her’.
Sabotage, murder, kidnap and simmering romance – what more do you want when you are by the pool? A heroine who investigates noises in the night, confronts the dodgy stalker, and breaks into the baddies house at midnight – all on no sleep.
Delacort has invented a Stephanie Plum character who is just as ballsy and loveable but this one lives in Perth and has 2 pet Galahs instead of a hamster. An easy read with multiple story layers, Sharp Turn will keep you guessing till the end, pick it up this summer if you like Janet Evanovich and Val McDermid’s Blue Genes.