Books & Literature

The Sleuth Down Under, by Rosemary Ayles

CRIME: Henrietta Copeland accompanied by Compass, her chocolate brown Labrador, begin this fictitious crime tetralogy.

You’ll have to put your sleuthing skills to the test in this fictional crime tetralogy.

In The Sleuth Down Under, we follow the adventures of Henrietta Copeland, a retired scientist-turned-detective, in this fictious crime tetralogy (I’ll save you the trouble of googling a dictionary definition: a tetralogy is a compound work that is made up of four separate works).

After losing her sight in a workplace accident just before she turns 50, Henrietta is starting the next phase of her life. Assisted by her loveable Labrador Compass, she begins to learn what really matters most in life. She had always placed her love of career first, and had sacrificed marriage and children as a result. Now, feeling a little lost and without purpose, she stumbles upon a case to be solved and the course of a sudden tragic event will go on to change the rest of her life.

This journey takes readers on a pleasant trip all around Australia via car, bus and boat; from the hustle and bustle of the busy Adelaide city, the windy roads of the Adelaide Hills to the calm coasts of Goolwa, with many landmarks that local readers will be familiar with and appreciate.

The cast of characters are is mixed bag. The central character, Henrietta Copeland, is a tough, intelligent and independent woman who says what she thinks, which can sometimes offend, but deep down she has a good heart. I found it hard to warm to Henrietta, finding her a little too obnoxious and cold for my liking.

She is supported by her “steering committee”: Forbes Martin, a loyal and dedicated friend whom she has worked alongside as a scientist for many years; the caring and sweet young lady Jasmine, who has admired Henrietta since she helped her as a young girl; and finally her twin nieces, Pearl and Chiffon, along with their significant others, whom we really only get to know on a surface level. The author doesn’t give us much to connect with them beyond that. These characters do develop as we follow them into each connecting story in this series of four.

However, there is also a myriad of other characters introduced in the additional three stories and it becomes hard to keep up and follow who is who. I feel these may be better read as four separate novels with a break in between each rather than one complete work, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

While the ideas of this story are quite interesting and original, it is all a little much and too farfetched for me to take seriously. The author casually glosses over major tragedies without too much explanation, stating them like daily occurrences, then spends too long (in my humble opinion) on more mundane parts of the story, such as garnish on a meal. It makes the pace of the book feel disjointed, far too much happens for one story yet it drags on in parts. It’s not every day one book contains mentions of pole dancing, explosions, knighting ceremonies and an offer of an eye transplant, yet here we are.

The Sleuth Down Under was written by South Australian author Rosemary Ayles, who draws her inspiration by her surrounds in the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula.

Overall, this is a fictitious crime book with a dash of romance that’s a little out of the ordinary and a bit of fun.

Reviewed by Karlie Naulty

Distributed by: Austin Macauley
Released: July 2021
RRP: $6.50 approx. (eBook)

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