PACHYDERM is the second outing for milliner Catherine Kint and her best friend (strictly platonic) Boris. The novel follows on from JINX although not so closely as to make the earlier one mandatory reading, but they are both definitely highly recommended.
Set in inner hipster Melbourne, littered with coffee shops, bars and pubs, Kint is one of those accidental detectives who has a minor super-power in turning just about anything into a crime scene. Attending a glittering social function at the Melbourne Zoo goes from an opportunity of mixing a bit of business with pleasure, to a sizzling romantic encounter with the enigmatic zoo-keeper Beau Hacska and the sad, sudden death of the zoo's female Asian elephant Dong Zei.
That night escalates to a steamy date with Hacska, an odd encounter with a whistler on public transport, a commission from a demanding, and seemingly psychic client for an impossible hat in masses of green felt, and the supposedly accidental mauling of Hacska by the zoo's African Wild Dog pack. Despite Kint's absolute conviction that the elephant's death, and Hacska's mauling are connected by more than just location, zoo officials refuse to concede. Meanwhile Boris has found love and won't concentrate, the green felt construction has turned into her worst nightmare, and Kint's life is barrelling along in that fast paced, slightly breathless, sod the speed bumps sort of a way that readers of JINX will remember.
McGinlay does a particularly good line in tongue in cheek humour in these books. Never cruel, he's able to poke fun at the high pace, high drama Kint from the outset. Whether it's the way that she does (or doesn't) deal with the client from hell; whether it's her stomping mercilessly into the personal (and potential romantic life) of Boris without a seeming care in the world, Kint is one of those characters that stands out from the page (and would probably be one you'd cheerfully strangle in real life).
JINX created a real sense of the inner Melbourne hipster place that the books are set in, whilst PACHYDERM concentrates more firmly on character development and plot. There's a lot going on in both these books, but at no stage is the reader made to feel overwhelmed or confused (well not more than Kint herself anyway). There's contemplation time, there's sitting around in the pub drinking gin time, and in this novel, some poignant moments both in terms of love lost, love sought and what happens to the famous when they age and fail.
Quirky, fun, engaging and hugely entertaining, JINX, PACHYDERM and Catherine Kint are a really good combo - here's hoping there's more intended in the series.