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Thursday 17 September 2020

‘Hermit’ by S R White

Published by Headline,
17 September 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-7758-9 (HB)

Australian detective Dana Russo is already having a bad day struggling with her past when a homicide’s called in: a stabbing in a store, with the perp in custody. Except that this perp is like none she’s ever met, a silent man who’s apparently disappeared off the face of the land for fifteen years.

This compelling Australian PI is a stunning debut. We’re drawn straight away into Dana’s world: she’s introspective and hag-ridden by a past we’re given only flashes of, but we also admire her determination that her odd suspect, Nathan Whittler, who isn’t going to be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Nathan is also sympathetically drawn, and the main narrative force of the book is the interviews between him and Dana, where she’s driven to give out her own inner pain in order to draw him out. However the moving intensity of this duel is balanced by the wonderfully-drawn cheerful banter of Dana’s colleagues as they do the ‘leg-work’ outside, interviewing other suspects, like the dead man’s wife and Nathan’s unpleasant brother. There’s Mike, the family man, Bill the boss who’s an A-team fan, and the fantastic Lucy, whose riposte to a recalcitrant lawyer made me want to high-five her. The plot’s cleverly spun, the solution satisfying, and just for once I forgive the slightly cliff-hanger ending, because it promises a sequel. I can’t wait.

A taut, page-turning Australian PI which balances an intense duel between the main detective and the suspect with well-described side investigation and a lively cast of characters.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

S.R. White worked for a UK police force for twelve years, before returning to academic life and taking an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.


Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book Death on a Shetland Isle 

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