Author: Karen M Davis
Simon & Schuster RRP $24.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Former police officer Karen M Davis has delivered crime lovers a cracking read with her debut novel, Sinister Intent. This is one of those spot-on examples of “write what you know” – and after 20 years’ in front-line policing, investigations and undercover operations it’s a safe bet that Davis would have some ripping yarns up her sleeve.
The story starts with a flashback, which is pretty standard for this genre. Eight years on, the subject of the flashback is revealed as detective Lexie Rogers. A former uniform cop in Sydney’s red light district, Kings Cross, she has survived a violent knife attack and witnessed far more than most cops her age. Now she’s back at work as the newest member of the Bondi Junction detectives’ office and ready to start again. Her arrival is greeted with a mix of interest, suspicion and something else. Detective Josh Harrison, who she is partnered with after her assigned partner is injured, cannot deny there is something about Lexie that draws him, despite his vow never to mix work with pleasure.
In Sydney, two bikie gangs are at war: The Devil’s Guardians and The Assassins have a long-standing hatred of each other and some grudges to revenge. When Lexie is asked to help execute a search warrant at one of the bikie clubhouses, she gets far more than she bargained for. The world she’s entering is vicious and dangerous; the bikies’ twisted loyalty is firmly against anything or anyone to do with the police, so their job isn’t going to be easy. She can accept that – it’s her job; however, personally, the case challenges her far more than she lets on to her colleagues. One of the bikies bears a strong resemblance to the man convicted of murdering her brother. Her body may have recovered from the attack on her, but her mind is taking longer. Flashbacks and nightmares are just part of the post-traumatic stress she is dealing with, while trying to appear professional and calm. As the case progresses, one of the bikies forms an unlikely alliance with Lexie after realising his family is in danger, but the move puts Lexie at a greater risk. Will this case be too much for her? Is it too much, too soon? And is Josh a distraction or something good to hold on to?
Fast paced and exciting, Sinister Intent mixes police procedural with a good touch of romance to make an enjoyable read that’s much character driven as plot driven. It’s well-balanced and has some good twists that will keep most readers guessing, and corruption, homicide, drugs and arson keeping the cops on their toes. There are also plenty of interesting characters – good, bad, foul-mouthed and sweet – to keep readers interested and wondering who’s harmless and who’s not. In particular, I’m keen to see how Lexie develops in future books (there will be future books, I hope) as she strengthens following her setbacks; her fragility and the rawness of her experience made her interesting and authentic – she’s more than just her job. I think, no, I hope, Josh has a part in making her a stronger person. It’s always good if a book leaves you wanting more of the characters and that’s exactly what Sinister Intent did.
Available from good bookstores and Simon & Schuster. This copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Bookish treat: Chocolate is always good for your mental health … right?