21 January 2013

Review: COLD GRAVE, Kathryn Fox

  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Published 2012 Pan Macmillan Australia
  • ISBN 978-1-7426-1034-4
  • 337 pages
  • #6 in the Dr Anya Crichton series
  • Source: ARC supplied by publisher

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton needs a break. Cocooned from the world aboard a luxury cruise ship, nothing can interrupt time with her precious six year old son.

Peace is shattered when the body of a teenage girl is discovered shoved in a cupboard, dripping wet. With no obvious cause of death and the nearest port days away, Anya volunteers her forensic expertise.

She quickly uncovers a sordid pattern of sexual assaults, unchecked drug use and mysterious disappearances. With crew too afraid to talk, she is drawn into the underbelly of the cruise line, its dangerous secrets and the murky waters of legal accountability.

Shadowed by a head of security with questionable loyalties, Anya can trust no one. Her family's lives depend on what she does next.
One thing is certain. There is a killer on board.

My Take

What I like in particular about Kathryn Fox's approach to her Anya Crichton series is her willingness to embed community concerns. In the previous novel in this series DEATH MASK the central themes were violence, sexual abuse, and drug abuse, in high profile sportsmen. There were plenty of media examples for her to draw on.

The inclusion of much-discussed community issues gives Fox the opportunity for extensive research 

In COLD GRAVE there are at least two themes both springing from the increased availability and popularity of luxury cruises as attractive holidays. The Dianne Brimble case (2002) highlighted the way cruises can attract particular groups of people out for a good time and how individuals can easily become the victims of these groups. I felt the case of Lilly Chan drew heavily from that case.

The second issue related to cruise liners is their potential for marine contamination, particularly with the building of ships that are the size of a small city, with the attendant outputs in garbage and sewage. These ships are frequently in close proximity to shorelines - no one wants to just stare at an unchanging sea do they? - and there are sometimes accidental or deliberate discharge of contaminants. Attempts to control this behaviour by legislation often becomes snarled in jurisdictional disputes, particularly as stricter controls make running the cruises more expensive for the companies who own and register the ships.

So in COLD GRAVE Anna and ex-husband Martin become involved in the investigations of the death of 15 year old Lilly Chan and the kneecapping of a crew member. The presence of Martin and their son Ben provides a connecting thread to earlier novels in the series, without being overbearing.

My rating: an Australian author well worth looking for. It is one of my top reads so far this year.

Bernadette's Review

Author's website
Read an extract from COLD GRAVE
Death of Dianne Brimble - Wikipedia
Article on Cruise Ship Pollution

Dr Anya Crichton (Fantastic Fiction)
1. Malicious Intent (2005)
2. Without Consent (2007)
3. Skin and Bone (2008)
4. Blood Born (2009)
5. Death Mask (2011)
6. Cold Grave (2012)

I've also reviewed

My mini-review for MALICIOUS INTENT
Dr. Anya Crichton has recently struck out to work on her own as a freelance forensic pathologist. Work is a bit hard to find but she is gaining a reputation as a credible courtroom authority. She is not without friends in the police, the New South Wales State Forensic Institute, and among the criminal barristers. Something about the apparent suicide of Clare Matthews doesn't sit quite right: the fact that, a nun, she disappeared shortly before she was due to take her vows, that she suicided by jumping off the Gap, that she was 6 weeks pregnant, and that she had strange fibres in her lungs. And now another case with similarities crops up: Fatima Deab overdoses on heroine after being missing for some days and her lungs contain the same fibres. Debut publication by Australian author. It is obvious to the reader that Kathryn Fox has a lot to say, lots of issues that she wants to make us aware of, and sometimes this novel takes on a bit of a didactic tone. But the plotting is so good, the tension so well built that by the end I could forgive her anything!  

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin