Longueville Media/MacMillan, Oct 2006
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Australian doctor Tom Hackett arrived in New Orleans as a Paediatric
Surgery Fellow full of joy at his perfect life. Three months later he is
back in New South Wales, wifeless. Tom's wife Olivia has been murdered in
New Orleans, and Tom has returned home to learn to live without her. Tom
is living in Sydney but commuting to Sanctuary, a small town on the South
Coast where he has a clinic in the local hospital.
The first sign that Tom's past is following him comes when a dozen black
roses are left on his Sydney doorstep. "Hell has found you", says
the note nestled among the roses. In Sanctuary that morning a husband
finds his wife dead on the kitchen floor, battered to death with a frying
pan. Senior Sergeant Jack Maguire, a homicide detective demoted to
Sanctuary because he has followed his instincts once too often, feels that
there is something odd about this murder, although he can't put his finger
on it. Tom Hackett, on the other hand, knows that there is something
strange, when he reads the local newspaper report about the murder, and
realises that not only has he met the murdered woman, but her murder bears
considerable similarity to his wife Olivia's.
THE PERFECT SUSPECT is author Vincent Varjavandi's first novel. It reads a
bit like a first novel, too - complex and tangled plot, some unlikely
scenarios, and a relatively "all's well that ends well" ending. But for
all that it is not bad; the tension builds well, and the mystery element
is well teased out, and I think Vincent has potential.
The relationship between Jack Maguire and his assistant, newly promoted
Detective Constable William Tucker, is interestingly described and could
provide the basis for future books. The novel is very firmly set in
Australia by the author's inclusion of Australian colloquialisms in
dialogue, and in his references to New South Wales place names and events.
That said, I don't think it will reduce its appeal to non-Australian
Vincent Varjavandi is a Sydney-based paediatric surgeon. He uses his
medical knowledge sparingly in the novel but it does emerge on occasion in
the description of murder scenes and in autopsy reports. Without doubt Tom
Hackett is Varjavandi's mouthpiece and his alter ego. Tom feels strongly
about child abuse, paedophilia, and child pornography.
October 2006 Review First published on Murder and Mayhem
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