HARUM SCARUM
Felicity Young

 


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Fremantle Press, April 2008
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

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.

HARUM SCARUM further develops the relationship between Monty and Stevie, following on from AN EASEFUL DEATH, the first in the Stevie Hooper series. As with both her earlier novels Young clearly locates her story within a West Australian landscape.

I found HARUM SCARUM an enjoyable read with considerable credibility. The glossary of internet slang provided at the beginning was useful in interpreting the chat room conversations. Perhaps some of the threads of the novel finally converged a little too coincidentally, some problems were resolved a little too easily, but this is fiction, and you can do things here that may not happen in real life. The book seems to close a chapter in Stevie's life and I'm ready for the next to open.

HARUM SCARUM is Felicity Young's third published novel in 4 years and the second Stevie Hooper novel. AN EASEFUL DEATH, the first Stevie Hooper novel, was published in 2007. Youngs website is at http://www.felicityyoung.com/ . HARUM SCARUM is available through Fremantle Press: http://www.fremantlepress.com.au

March 2008 review originally posted on Murder and Mayhem

 

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