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Monday 6 November 2023

‘A Certain Malice’ by Felicity Young

Published by Crème de la Crime,
5 May 2005.  
ISBN 0-95476344-0 (PB)
(Issued on Kindle
1st October 2015,
under the title Flashpoint)

Senior Sergeant Cam Fraser has returned to his home town with his daughter to recover from the death of his wife and son in a house fire.  Coping with a belligerent teenager and the less than ethical Constable Vince Petrowski, the last thing he needs is a suspicious death involving a charred body.  To make matters worse, the body is found on the grounds of his late wife’s old school, Glenroyd Ladies’ College.

Fraser’s methods are methodical, compartmentalising everything to maintain his professional detachment.  While this helps him in putting to one side any similarities between his current case and the death of his wife, it puts a barrier in communications with his daughter.

Felicity Young does a good job of creating a small community atmosphere.  It’s easy to imagine the author in the midst of it and she demonstrates an easy knowledge of the situations she describes.  She gives equally effective pictures of the local pub and stock feeder’s shop as of the charred remains of the body and the clinically gruesome process of the autopsy. 

Fraser’s fleeting visualisation of the faces of his wife and son in place of the dead caretaker offers a clever insight of the sensitivity he is anxious to stifle.  The descriptions are just as picturesque with characters as with scenes.  Vince’s obnoxious behaviour demonstrates an element of insecurity and even the relatively minor figure of the victim’s brother stands out.  His hopes of financial gain from co-operating with the police investigation are not easily forgotten.

The plot unfolds well, with a number of avenues suggested in terms of a solution.  Tension builds progressively and while the pieces of the puzzle are there for the attentive reader, they don’t stand out in obvious fashion. ------   
Reviewer: Mary Andrea Clarke

Felicity Young settled with her parents in Western Australia in 1976, became a nurse, married young and had three children. Not surprisingly, it took ten years to complete an Arts degree (English lit) at UWA. In 1990 she and her family moved to a small farm 40 kilometres NE of Perth where she established a Suffolk sheep stud, reared orphan kangaroos and embarked upon a life of crime writing.      

Mary Andrea Clarke writes a historical series set in Regency London featuring Georgina Grey.  Her first book The Crimson Cavalier. Published in 2007, grew out of a desire to explore the challenges faced by an intelligent, independent woman in an era before equality of opportunity between the sexes became the norm.

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