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Monday 13 November 2023

‘The Corpse With the Opal Fingers’ by Cathy Ace

Published by Four Tails Publishing,
10 November 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-99055015-0 (PB)

Cait and Bud Anderson are enjoying a break away from their usual lives as a criminal psychologist and a retired homicide detective and are hoping that for once they can have a holiday that avoids all matters criminal. The couple are in Australia, visiting Cait’s sister, Siân, and her husband, Todd. On their first few days in Sydney Todd had been occupied with an annual mining conference while Siân, Cait and Bud have gone sightseeing. Now the conference has finished, and Todd is free to join the others and they celebrate by going on a sunset dinner cruise.

As the cruise draws to an end Cait and Bud listen to a group of men telling stories. They are known as the Mob and their company specialises in making roads through wild terrain for mining companies to access new mines. The first yarn is told by a man called Lennie who claims that when he was a boy he discovered a rifle in a waterhole but his grandfather took it away from him and he only found it again years later after his grandfather’s death. Lennie took it to the police and they established that it was used to murder a young aboriginal woman called Lowanna Swan and the owner of the weapon was convicted of murder. Another man, Shorty, tells a story about seeing a man stabbed; then one of the youngest members of the Mob, who is known as Ditch, says that he knows about a man who got away with murder because nobody realised it was murder.

A diversion occurs and Ditch does not tell the rest of his story. Cait hopes to find out more about it later, but she is aware that his claim could have been that of a drunk young man boasting in an attempt to impress his seniors. She is also intrigued by the details of Lennie’s story about the murder of Lowanna, twenty years ago. Lowanna was known as the girl with opal fingers because she could look at a map and locate places where opals could be mined. Originally there was a very cursory investigation because the authorities assumed she had been murdered by her father and they believed this was confirmed when her father committed suicide. When the rifle was given to the police they accused the weapon’s owner, Philip Myers, of murder, he was convicted and is still in prison. Cait is shocked when she realises that her brother-in-law, Todd, had worked for Myers and been very close to him; in fact, Philip Myers and his wife had attended Siân and Todd’s wedding in Wales.

Even though the conference is over, Cait and her family keep encountering the Mob. Ditch refuses to talk further about his claim, but Cait becomes increasingly concerned about the young man’s mental health. Even when Cait, Bud, Siân and Todd move to the Blue Mountains, on the next stage of their holiday, the Mob turn up again, also on holiday. Then tragedy strikes and people die.

Todd becomes increasingly convinced that his life is in danger as well as that of his family because of threats he has received concerning his connection with Philip Myers. When Bud reaches out to a colleague to ask for assistance the woman confirms that Todd’s fears are justified and that he and his family are in grave danger. This seems to tie the source of danger into the present-day mining industry but Cait is still convinced that the deaths are connected to the murder of the girl with the opal fingers. Cait engages her eidetic memory and psychological skills in a determined and increasingly desperate attempt to discover the truth before tragedy engulfs the people she loves.

The Corpse With The Opal Fingers is the thirteenth book in the series featuring Cait and Bud Anderson. It has a complex, well-constructed plot and magnificent descriptions of the Australian scenery. It also has a cast of fascinating characters, who are beautifully drawn and skilfully developed, as the book explores, with subtlety and insight, the near impossibility of taking a person totally away from their roots, both in speech and thoughts. The protagonists, Cait and Bud, are engaging and likeable, while the peripheral characters are often flawed but all develop in interesting and often positive ways throughout the book.
The Corpse With The Opal Fingers
is a page-turner which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. With a successful career in marketing having given her the chance to write training courses and textbooks, Cathy has now finally turned her attention to her real passion: crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Two of her works, Dear George and Domestic Violence, have also been produced by Jarvis & Ayres Productions as ‘Afternoon Reading’ broadcasts for BBC Radio 4. Cathy now writes two series of traditional mysteries: The Cait Morgan Mysteries (TouchWood Editions) and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (Severn House Publishers)

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin
click on the title

1 comment:

  1. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to read and review this book so thoughtfully, and thanks, too, for the great shout-out and support!