This book is absolutely fascinating. In a series of chapters based on each crime - starting with the escape of convicts in Tasmania in 1822
DS Stevie Hooper, recently seconded to the Serious Crime Squad in Perth, is working with her old friend DI Monty McGuire. When the naked, hairless body of a young woman is found, poised carefully outside a Bank in the main part of the city, sprayed totally with bronze paint there not only does not seem to be any reason for the murder, there are also no clues on the surveillance cameras because the murderer seems to have known enough to cover them, firstly when the body was placed there, and secondly when the props used to keep her in the bizarre pose as rigor-mortis set in are removed. The woman's face is an expressionless mask, and the words Easeful Death are printed down the length of her right thigh in black marker pen.
Is this killing connected with the last serial killer in Perth – the Kings Park killer? A suspect for those murders was never really confirmed as he died in a car crash before the police completed their investigations. McGuire's predecessor as head of SCS was forced out of the police under a cloud of suspicion over that investigation and Monty now can't decide if their recent killer is new or if the faulty investigation didn't even id the right suspect.
Stevie is dealing with problems of her own, a full-on, very intense investigation; the difficulties of juggling single motherhood and the time required on a job like this; a threatening and menacing ex-partner; and disturbing feelings for the interstate Profiler called in to help the SCS team.
Then a second victim is found, and the team discover that the paint was purchased in bronze, silver and gold. Can the SCS team stop these murders before there are two more victims?
AN EASEFUL DEATH includes a hefty concentration on Stevie Hooper, her problems with balancing her home life and her job, the difficulties with her ex-partner and her feelings for the enigmatic profiler called into the investigation. In the book blurb she's referred to as young and hard-edged – but to be honest, to this reader there was very little indication of any hard-edges. There's a back story with the ex-partner that is obviously intended to give her character some adversity that she is dealing with, and as a result of that she's got a tendency to be a little bit prickly with fellow team members. There's also a fairly standard romance element.
The plot lines are competently delivered, but predictable. There's some personal elements in Stevie's life that were bordering on the unbelievable and possibly these affected perceptions of the book. Whilst AN EASEFUL DEATH didn't really appeal to this reader, it undoubtedly will find an eager audience in readers who are looking for something on the romantic, less confrontational side of crime fiction.
, right through to the disappearance of Peter Falconio in the Northern Territory in 2001, the author has explored a series of notorious crimes - all of which took place in various locations throughout the bush and remote Australian outback.
Starting out with the escape and subsequent cannibalism of a group of convicts in Tasmania in 1822, we then learn how cattle rustling in 1870 is more successful when you are in an area so remote that it's almost totally unknown. From there to Victoria and the late 1870's - to the time and activities of one of our most famous bushrangers, Ned Kelly. In a more sobering tale, in the early 1900's racism and cruelty led to a violent spree when Jimmy Governor finally had enough and took revenge. In 1940 a mining worker disappeared and it was pure hard work that meant that the police solved that crime and a little later in the 1940's Alice Springs was very much a frontier town when it was rocked by a series of bombs. In 1968 Larry Boy proved that Aboriginal bush skills were extremely formidable as they still were when local Aboriginal people were called in to help in the search for Azaria Chamberlain in 1980. From there it's 1989 and a series of backpacker disappearances that leads to a shocking discovery in the Australian bush, with the book finishing in 2001 with the disappearance of Peter Falconio from the roadside in the middle of the Australian outback.
The great thing about each of this individual chapters is that they are told in a very non-sensational, matter of fact way, that gives the reader a real understanding of the events without the ooh aaa factor that you often get from newspaper accounts (I'm thinking in particular of the story of the death of Azaria Chamberlain here!) Anybody who is interested in some of the real crime stories of Australia over many years will find this book most instructive.