This is the third in Melanie Casey’s crime trilogy featuring psychic, Cass Lehman, and detective, Ed Dyson. It picks up with Cass and Ed living in domestic (for now) bliss until the discovery of human body parts at the McLaren Vale dump. Despite being on secondment to the city-based Major Crime Investigation Branch, Ed is called in to investigate because the crime involves his old stomping ground of Fairfield.
Once back amongst his old colleagues, Ed begins to get nostalgic for his previous job (he doesn’t like his new boss much) and this triggers arguments on the romance front because Cass feels left out of his decision-making process. Hence the happily-ever-after status quo is thrown into doubt, and much of the novel is taken up with resolving what seems to be fairly petty grievances, especially for a couple who’ve been through as much as these two.
The novel also delves into the deeper theme of homelessness and the vulnerability of those living rough. It would have been great if there’d been more of a focus on this aspect of the story and less on the contrived domestic arguments. Sadly, it’s also apparent very early in the book who the killer is and what the motives are. Despite Casey’s attempt to distract the reader with red herrings to add mystery to the appearance of the body parts, it’s still, ahem, bleeding obvious what’s going on.
Added to this is a subplot involving the return of Cass’s old psychotic nemesis. This was perhaps the most annoying part of the story as, overall, it added little to the main plot and was quite predictable in how it played out.
The positive aspects of this book are that it reads well. Casey has a good “voice” that makes you want to read on despite the identified difficulties. It also works as a stand-alone if you’ve not read the first two in the trilogy. The negatives, however, are that as a character, Cass is quite annoying. She’s kind of limp and ineffective, perhaps as a result of the trauma of her “gift” (experiencing a murder victim’s last moments of life if she stands where they died, or touches their body) but the result is she’s not terribly likeable as a character. There’s also an inordinate focus on food throughout which is, at times, too much, irrelevant and slightly sickening. And, as already discussed, the murder plot itself is predictable from a very early stage in the novel.
Pantera Press are focused on bringing new Australian talent to the mass market which is admirable in today’s publishing climate and I really, really wanted to like this book more. My verdict is that it’s okay, but when you’re competing with the likes of Liane Moriarty who is blowing the Australian crime genre away, you’ve got to be more than okay.
Reviewed by: Stacey Carvosso
Rating out of 10: 7
Publisher: Pantera Press
Released: February 2016