Thrilling Crime Drama
A great debut novel, the author should be pleased with the result 3.5/5. A detective story centred on the partnership of detectives Gemma Woodstock and Fleet. These characters are distinct and deeply flawed, they work really well together in a believable way. There are a few murders, they get investigated by these two characters as well as the team in the Melbourne office, the other detectives acting as background characters.
Written in the first person perspective of Gemma Woodstock throughout, you really get a feel of how she lives her life. This is gritty stuff, she has a fair amount of self loathing. Her disjointed relationship with her distant young son is mainly sustained by phone calls, she loves him but can’t consolidate this with her life as a detective in a far away city. She has her vices, booze and cigarettes, her sex life is a series of one night stands with poor quality men, while beginning a relationship with a decent chap, who hasn’t seen friends make that same mistake. At work her strengths are her analytical mind and organisational skills. She doesn’t have a lot of emotional strength and disappointingly breaks down and cries in a few too many situations where you would expect a police officer to have a more resilience, but she does recognise this flaw and question if she is cut out for this line of work, but this is a stereotype too often applied to women.
Fleet comes across as a convincing male character, on the surface a misogynistic chain smoking womaniser. But after a tough start he does soften as a character, lending much needed support to Gemma, who feels isolated in a new city after her promotion. He provides a good deal of the emotional support, which Gemma needs throughout, as the stereotypical confident man. Fortunately he does step out of this mould slightly and needs the support of Gemma at times.
If you’re a feminist then don’t expect much from the way the issues of abuse, discrimination and general sexism are dealt with by the characters. This must reflect the author’s research on the attitudes within the environment of the characters, institutional sexism in Police departments in particular is believable.
You can guess who did it, there’s enough in it for a 40% probability guess, the twists/turns keep you guessing up until the end though. This book was 4/5 until the last 30 pages, the many loose ends were dealt with too quick. A lot of the answers you demand are given in the summary in the epilogue, some of these should have been covered in the action ahead of this. Apart from that it concludes well, draws the loose ends together well. The way that the psychological factors were dealt with was off hand, the motivations of characters behaviours and the fixing of some problems are dealt with by waving a big psychological magic wand. The main changes I would want in this book would be to develop some of the criminals/offenders in it some more, this would lead to a more believable ending.