20 February 2022

Review: CROCODILE TEARS, Alan Carter

Synopsis (publisher

Detective Philip ‘Cato’ Kwong is investigating the death of a retiree found hacked to pieces in his suburban Perth home. The trail leads to Timor-Leste, with its recent blood-soaked history. There, he reunites with an old frenemy, the spook Rory Driscoll who, in Cato’s experience, has always occupied a hazy moral terrain.

Resourceful, multilingual, and hard as nails, Rory has been Canberra’s go-to guy when things get sticky in the Asia-Pacific. Now Rory wants out. But first he’s needed to chaperone a motley group of whistleblowers with a price on their heads. And there’s one on his, too.

Part espionage thriller, part police procedural, Crocodile Tears shows powerful forces, at home and abroad, determined to keep their secrets buried. At any cost.

My Take

Cato Kwong is has moved to of Perth's Major Crimes Unit ( I have to admit that I haven't read the last two novels in the series), he is married, and has a small child. He is recently wounded while on duty, and close to burn-out. His wife Sharon works with the airport police, and they lead busy and demanding lives. Something's got to give.

This is a novel that keeps you on your toes, with two narrative streams: one for Cato, and one for Rory Driscoll, ex-spook, who is introduced in a prologue with an incident 14 years earlier.

In Perth a retiree is found dead, multiple slash wounds, missing an ear. He is an ex-cop and Cato is convinced the missing ear is a clue. This murder is followed with that of an ex-teacher, eyes gouged out. What connects these two?

Meanwhile a passenger, apparently Timorese by birth, has a meltdown on a plane landing at Perth airport, and comes to Cato's wife's attention.

So, a complex plot, made more complex by the introduction of Rory Driscoll, former spook, aboriginal. His ex-employer, nick named Aunty, Canberra intelligence mandarin, wants Driscoll to make sure three whistle blowers are able to report to a meeting of a committee from the Hague in Darwin in three weeks time. Their names are on a hit list and so is Rory's. Timor-Leste appears to connect the other three, but Driscoll can't think what has put his name on the list.

I think I suffered a little from the fact that I had not read books #3 and #4 in the series, although CROCODILE TEARS works pretty well as a stand-alone. Plenty to think about. Quality Australian writing.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

Alan Carter - Awards

Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel (Winner 2018)
Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction (Winner 2011)
UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award (Shortlisted 2010)

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