If you are a previous reader to this series, you will know that Darian Richards operates under the direction of his own personal moral code, as determined solely by him. He is not one of those battered and brooding protagonists – it is more that he has given up caring about the larger world and has contented himself with the concerns of his small circle of people. Once he commits, he commits.
Invited back into the force by his old boss for a special assignment, Darian just can’t say no. Darian has had a long time out of the police brotherhood so to speak, and he is quite determined that this foray will be merely an instance of repaying an old friend for help given in the past. Twenty-five years ago a young Melbourne woman died after hosting a party which was attended by four up and coming police officers. One of the officers is now running for a higher office and the Commissioner confirms to Darian that the new investigation needs to show without any doubt that the death of Isobel Vine was not anything to do with Victoria’s finest.
Darian enlists the help of cop and friend Maria Chastain for his investigation and then it’s back to his old beat – urban Melbourne. Not much has changed since Darian has been away but it’s almost comforting to be there again. It’s clear the force would rather that Darian make a quick and safe determination to his tasked case but that is never going to happen. The victim’s father, all these years later, is still convinced that someone in power murdered his child and Darian finds no reason to disagree with him.
Author Tony Cavanaugh has had a long and illustrious career in film and tv and thus brings that excellent crafting of place and character to his crime novels. All of his creations are wholly convincing and though sketched with typical Australian economy, they are entirely recognizable in their landscape.
KINGDOM OF THE STRONG is strongly anchored to the Melbourne setting and the reader is very much travelling along the streets with investigator Darian Richards. The same themes do thread through the novels in this series; loss, redemption, loyalty and betrayal and KINGDOM OF THE STRONG gives a little illumination to the before, as in what Darian was like when he was operating, albeit loosely, within the parameters of the Victorian police force.
Darian Richards is one of those crime fiction characters that you want to know more about with each series entry. Darian’s world is familiar yet his slant on it is not. KINGDOM OF THE STRONG is another strong novel in a compelling series that powers forward with Darian’s insight into what is visible on the surface, and the underside which perhaps might not be seen, but is always present.