5 May 2008

Felicity Young, West Australian author

I reviewed Felicity Young's latest book HARUM SCARUM a little while back.

This week over on oz_mystery_readers group, Felicity is our guest on Quiz an Author, a quarterly activity where we put an Australian author in the spotlight. Guests so far have been Brian Kavanagh, Adrian Hyland, Gabrielle Lord, and PD Martin. In September it will be Michael Robotham's turn.

Felicity is one of a group of recent Australian writers who delight in giving their crime fiction an Australian setting. Her 3 published novels are all clearly located in Western Australia.

Here are some quick "reviews"

A CERTAIN MALICE (2005), my rating: 4.5
Senior Sergeant Cam Fraser accepts an appointment to run the police station in a small country town in West Australia to get away from the trauma that he and his 15 year old daughter have experienced in the last 3 years. He was brought up in this town, but his expectations of a quiet life are shattered with the discovery of a charred body after a bushfire in the grounds of a local school. To complicate matters the police at the station are mainly young and inexperienced, apart from Vince against whom there have been many complaints by locals. And what are the school principal and her husband hiding? The story moves at a good pace and the plot is well woven. Young makes good use of the uniqueness of her Australian setting.

AN EASEFUL DEATH (2006), my rating: 4.6
Somebody is killing young women in Perth, Western Australia, and then, post-mortem, posing their painted bodies carefully in relatively public places. The first body is painted bronze, the second silver ... you get the picture. False clues are left stuck to the bodies, and each has AN EASEFUL DEATH written down one leg. This is the second novel by Felicity Young. It features D.S. Stevie Hooper newly seconded to the Serious Crime Squad in Perth. She is young, un-married with a young daughter, keen to do well, and working with a boss who is also a good friend. In this case Stevie is the liaison with the eminent profiler who is helping the squad with the case. Quotes from publications by the profiler appear as tag lines in each of the chapters (but I must confess, didn't always seem significant to me). The action of the book mainly seems to happen over a one week period and comes thick and fast. There are plenty of candidates offered for the serial killer and I must confess I punted for the wrong one!

HARUM SCARUM (2008), my rating: 4.5
The body of the floater in the Swan River doesn't have a lot to identify it - the face is mutilated, the fingertips gone - but Monty McGuire, head of Perth's Serious Crime Squad is pretty sure his team is well on the way to identifying it.
D.S. Stevie Hooper and lifelong friend Tash are now both members of the Cyber Predator Team, charged with tracking down paedophiles who stalk children in internet chat rooms. Part of their job also is to visit schools talking to children about cyber safety. Stevie heads the team but there are times when she finds Tash, an impulsive risk taker, hard to manage.
The disappearance of an 11 year old girl, and the eventual finding of her body in a dumpster, brings Monty and Stevie, already lovers and parents of six year old Izzy, together into a joint operation directed by Monty.
There's a lot to like about this book apart from the fact that it is well crafted and Felicity Young is a more than accomplished writer. It explores themes that are issues for many parents in the western world - the way children use internet chat rooms and cyber technology in general; the threat to children from paedophiles; and effects of a society in which most parents work, on the way their children are growing up and the risks they are exposed to.

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